Coverage restricted to judge’s sentencing remarks
Broadcast news channels are now able to air judges’ sentencing remarks in crown courts across England and Wales.
No victims, witnesses or jurors will be shown in the footage that will broadcast judges summarising the facts of the case in question and explaining the reasons for the sentence they have given the defendant.
Following a successful pilot scheme, the Lord Chancellor Dominic Raab has used the Crown Court (Recording and Broadcasting) Order 2020 to enable broadcasters to apply for permission to film and broadcast sentencing remarks.
Crown courts handle serious criminal cases and appeals passed up from magistrates’ courts. They usually consist of a jury who decide whether the defendant is guilty or not and a judge, who is responsible for sentencing.
The most famous of these courts is the Old Bailey in London from where Ben Oliver, who pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of his grandfather David Oliver, will become the first defendant to have his sentencing remarks broadcast live. The footage will be hosted by Sky News on a dedicated YouTube channel.
The Lord Chancellor said:
“Opening up the courtroom to cameras to film the sentencing of some the country’s most serious offenders will improve transparency and reinforce confidence in the justice system. The public will now be able to see justice handed down, helping them understand better the complex decisions judges make.”
The move has been broadly welcomed by broadcasters and the Law Society. Lubna Shuja, vice president of the Law Society of England and Wales noted: “Providing it is done in a sensitive manner, the broadcasting of sentencing remarks can be a valuable tool for educating the public. It can also raise awareness of what the rule of law means and why it is important”.