In a bid to improve public understanding of the UK justice system, the Queen's Speech has outlined a legislative programme to introduce TV cameras into some courts in England and Wales.
The first filming in a UK courtroom occurred on 31 May 1993, when a shoplifting and assault case was filmed by Nick Catliff and the BBC in Edinburgh’s Sheriffs Court. This was under Scottish law, not the law and jurisdiction of England and Wales.
The Trial was shown on BBC2 as a one-off example of a documentary type programme which included in-court television footage of a real case. This is reported as the first such in-court broadcast in Britain.
It was shown in five episodes and contained footage of criminal trials.
One of the reasons why this was permissible was that the footage was from Scotland, which was not subject to the England and Wales Criminal Justice Act 1925 prohibition. Mark Stephens, a media lawyer, feels that the participants in The Trial acted up and were ‘playing to the unseen gallery’.
It is also noted that there were reported to be three cameras with camera operators used in the filming of The Trial. That is a significant amount of potential in-court distraction.
Convicted murderer, David Gilroy, did not get the chance to 'play to the unseen gallery' during his recent televised sentencing; the first to be televised in Britain. Gilroy was tucked safely out of shot; sentencing judge, Lord Bracadale, being given centre stage. In-court destraction is evident as Lord Bracadale can be seen to glance fleetingly at the camera on one or two occasions.
"A timely and engaging assessment of a rapidly changing media landscape, and how it might impact for good or bad on justice." Alastair Campbell, 2011
"The book is a useful contribution to the ongoing debate on these two important subjects." Journal of the Commonwealth Lawyers' Association, Vol 20, No. 3
"... the demand for a comprehensive book on the subject has never been higher... written in an engaging and accessible style, (the book) goes a long way to meet this demand not only by an interested public and members of the legal profession but also by academics and students of varying subjects." Thorsten Lauterbach, Law Lecturer at Robert Gordon University, 2011
Courting Publicity: Twitter and Television Cameras in Court is the first book in the UK to analyse the media’s current freedom and their use of social media and technology in court, taking a much-needed look at the impact that such broadcasting has already had on our legal and judicial process and investigates further effects that could follow.
Focusing on the debates that have resulted from growing access to court hearings and looking particularly at super injunctions, social media such as Twitter and television cameras it considers the balance between media interests and third party rights and the debate surrounding the impact that new forms of technology will have on our legal system, the individuals involved in each case, and the wider public audience.