Video camera

BBC, ITN and Sky want 'timely progress' on televised courts

Credit: jsawkins on Flickr. Some rights reserved

The BBC, ITN and Sky have stepped up their campaign for the ban on cameras in courtrooms to be overturned.

The three broadcasters have sent a co-signed letter to the three main party leaders calling for legislation allowing televised cases to be included in the Queen's speech this May.

Justice secretary Ken Clarke announced last September that the government was keen to overturn the ban on TV cameras "to improve transparency and public understanding of court".

The letter, signed by the BBC's Helen Boaden, ITN's John Hardie and Sky's John Ryley said: "We hope that timely progress can now be made to ensure that the bill lifting the prohibition on cameras in court is included in the Queen's speech.

"The administration of justice is a key part of a democracy. It shapes and defines a civilised society. The ability to witness justice in action, in the public gallery, is a fundamental freedom. Television will make the public gallery open to all."

If the campaign is successful, it will still be some time before the first televised cases would be screened – and guidelines drawn up about what can and cannot be shown.

The letter continues: "Each of our organisations fully accepts that there must be limitations on what can be broadcast and we agree that the presiding judge should have complete control of what is shown from the courtroom. We recognise that concerns have been raised about the impact television coverage will have, particularly in controversial cases. However, we believe that the outcome can only be positive.

"Everyone who believes in transparency should support this proposed change in the law. This is a long-overdue reform. For too long the UK has lagged behind much of the rest of the world on open justice. The time has come for us to catch up."

Media select committee chairman John Whittingale MP is leading a debate on the proposal in parliament on Wednesday (8 February).

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