Broadcasting from Court: BBC R5 Live speaks to media law expert Christopher Hutchings

Radio 5 Live’s Breakfast show asked partner Christopher Hutchings to give his view on the Government’s decision to allow the broadcast of certain Court hearings from today.

Christopher explained that this is in line with the Courts’ approach to open justice. It was first trialled back in 2004 including in the case Christopher conducted for HELLO! magazine, brought by Michael Douglas and OK against his client.

Presently, filming will be restricted to hearings in the Court of Appeal but it is intended that this will be extended to allow the broadcast of sentencing remarks of barristers and the Judge in the Crown Court. The fear that filming would inhibit those giving evidence, such as victims of crime, or that it will allow offenders to use their trial to create a media circus (as happened in the US case involving Hollywood actor O.J. Simpson) is, Christopher explained, ill-founded, since the new regulations explicitly prohibit filming of evidence being given.

The fact that “Superinjunctions” have, effectively, been killed off was an illustration of the movement by the Courts to encourage open justice and allow the public to scrutinise the legal process. Sections of the press were keen to criticise certain decision of judges and the move to allow filming would enable the British public to make up their own minds as to whether such criticisms were justified.

Christopher compared the introduction of TV cameras to courtrooms to the filming of Parliament and speculated that, whilst it would not lead to ratings-busting shows, excerpts from high-profile or controversial cases would now find their way onto news programmes.

To listen to the interview in full click here.