Published: 14:01, 06 September 2011
by Paul Francis
Plans to allow some court proceedings to be televised have come under fire from Herne Bay MP Roger Gale.
Mr Gale said he feared the plans would turn court hearings into another form of showbusiness.
Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said televising some parts of proceedings, such as sentencing, could help demystify the process.
Under the proposals being considered, trial proceedings and jury verdicts would not be filmed but sentencing could.
But Mr Gale, a former TV producer, said he feared that broadcasters would treat court hearings in the same way they covered the House of Commons by cherry-picking the most newsworthy items.
“Televising the closing speeches in law courts and the passing of sentences will create the same effect, as thrusting barristers seek to impress the media with fee-improving performances and the more eccentric members of the judiciary use the TV platform to address the nation.”
“This is not about transparency or democracy it is about television showbusiness and we do not need our law courts to be turned into yet another reality TV show.”
Mr Clarke said he acknowledged concerns about the risks of turning courts into theatre but there was no good reason not to allow limited filming.
He said: “I think what we need is public information, public confidence and above all transparency in the way the system works.
"There’s a lot of misunderstanding on how the criminal justice system works.
"What we don’t want is theatre and we don’t want to alter the behaviour or the conduct of the trial.
"We want to encourage people to have confidence in it.”