UK to Allow Cameras at Criminal Court Trials

The United Kingdom announced Wednesday it would allow broadcast news channels to air criminal court trials for the first time following a change in the law.

The UK has extended the contract from previously airing Court of Appeals cases to broadcasting sentencing remarks from the Crown Court.

The Ministry of Justice said the broadcasters could only film the judge giving the sentence to protect the privacy of victims, witnesses, and jurors.

Broadcast news channels Sky, BBC, ITN, and Press Association are allowed to apply for the filming and broadcast of sentencing remarks, with the judge deciding whether to grant the application.

Deputy Prime Minister Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Dominic Raab said the move would give the public a better understanding of the court’s decision-making process in handing sentences.

In a joint statement, BBC, ITN, and Sky News said lifting the camera ban in courtrooms is a “historic reform” crucial for democracy and open justice.

“This is a landmark moment for open justice. This reform reflects the public’s right to see justice being done in their courts. It will promote better public understanding of the work of the courts and greater transparency in the justice system,” said John Battle, Head of Legal and Compliance at ITN and chairman of the Media Lawyers Association.

The case of Ben Oliver, who pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his grandfather, is expected to be the first broadcast case on Thursday.

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