President of the Supreme Court Lord Neuberger has called for cameras to be allowed into courts, stating that there is a “strong case for saying that court hearings should be televised”.
Speaking at the Hong Kong Correspondent’s Club this week, he described the move towards filming in the courts as “merely the modern extension of enabling the public to enter the courts physically”.
Neuberger believes that allowing cameras into the courts is now a necessary part of open justice, “an essential feature of the rule of law”, and something that is no longer “just about the courts being open to visitors physically”.
He used the decision taken to grant cameras access to the UK Supreme Court in 2013 as an example of televised courts avoiding many of the problems and concerns that prompt suggestions that cameras should remain out of court; issues such as the likelihood of the intimidation of witnesses and juries and the possibility of witnesses and lawyers playing to the gallery. Neuberger claimed that these issues did not apply to appeals but had to be addressed where other trials and hearings are concerned.
Despite his assertions that there are strong arguments in favour of allowing cameras into the courts, Neuberger acknowledged that their addition has the capacity to be flawed.
He referred to the trial of OJ Simpson as an example of how televised trials can have a negative impact, describing the filming of the trial as “a lesson in how not to do it”. However, he stated the recent Oscar Pistorius trial is a good example of the opposite, saying that he “found the filming of the Oscar Pistorius trial impressive”.