Sky News calls for courtroom TV cameras
Monday, December 6 2010, 13:47 GMT
By Andrew Laughlin,

John Ryley, the head of Sky News, has today called for TV cameras to be allowed in courtrooms to help tackle the "growing public dissatisfaction with the judicial process".

Ryley used the trials of six parliamentarians accused of fiddling their expenses as an opportunity to push the case for courtroom cameras, which he believes would stop the suspicion that "something is rotten behind those closed doors".

Writing in The Guardian's Comment Is Free section, Ryley claimed that the UK was now "at a crossroads" on the issue of courtroom cameras, especially in regards to cases of important public interest.

"We call on our political parties to support the introduction of cameras into courtrooms before the next cases of similarly compelling public interest reach the courts," he said.

"Parliament says it wants transparency and honesty - justice must be done. We wait to see whether it will also be seen to be done."

In January, Sky News confirmed plans to launch a campaign to get the ban lifted on TV cameras being placed in courtrooms.

The broadcaster has previously tried to circumvent the ban with various initiatives, such as using 3D digital graphics to reconstruct 2003's Soham Murders trial of Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr.

Ryley believes that it is essential for broadcasters to get full access to courtrooms so that the judicial process comes under the same scrutiny as the legislature.

In today's editorial, he said: "By banishing cameras from the courtrooms...the public suspects, probably wrongly, that something is rotten behind those closed doors.

"As for the parliamentary defendants, what may happen as the cameras are excluded from these cases? The public might understandably feel that, yet again, the politicians have closed ranks, relying on secrecy. In contrast, by welcoming the cameras in, parliamentarians would be illustrating very directly their new commitment to openness and transparency.

"As a starting point, there is no reason why sentencing remarks in criminal cases and judgments in civil cases could not be televised. This would have allow judges to explain their decisions direct to a sceptical public."