TV camera records Old Bailey hearing in English legal history first

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By Thomas Connelly on

But you can’t watch it


English legal history was made today when a television camera was allowed to record a criminal hearing at the Old Bailey for the first time.

As part of a three-month pilot unveiled by the government earlier this year, the sentencing remarks of Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC were captured on film.

Hilliard QC was delivering his remarks in a case involving Muhaydin Mire (also spelled Muhiddin Mire), who cut the throat of a stranger at Leytonstone Tube station back in December 2015. Mire was found guilty of attempted murder last month, and today was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of eight and half years. He will spend the first part of his sentence in Broadmoor Hospital, and will serve the remainder of his sentence in prison when he has been deemed fit enough to be released.

Despite today’s footage not being broadcast due to it being a pilot, many hope the move will eventually lead to live broadcasts of crown court proceedings.

Speaking at the launch earlier this year, the then justice minister, Shailesh Vara, said:

My hope is that this will lead to more openness and transparency as to what happens in our courts. Broadcasting sentencing remarks would allow the public to see and hear the judge’s decision in their own words.

Eight crown courts across England and Wales are involved in the new scheme: Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Leeds, Cardiff, Southwark, and, as of today, the historic Central Criminal Court otherwise known as the Old Bailey.

Despite being a first for the Old Bailey, cameras in court isn’t exactly a new development, with the Supreme Court allowing cameras to film its proceedings ever since it opened in 2009. Proving popular, Lord Neuberger & co launched their own on demand channel last summer allowing viewers to watch them in action at a time that suited them.

Speaking at the time, Neuberger said:

Now justice can be seen to be done at a time which suits you. The archive will help people see the background to decisions made in our highest appeal court. It will also be useful to the legal profession and serve as an informative tool for those considering a career in the law.