Live on TV: Supreme justice

Transparency in the justice system reached a new level this month with live streaming of proceedings in the Supreme Court.

Hearings and judgments can now be watched live over the internet, via Sky News, at www.skynews.com/supremecourt. The courts normally sit between 10.30am and 4pm during legal terms.

The Court, which has four cameras installed in each of its three court rooms, is exempt from the prohibition on filming court proceedings in England and Wales and Northern Ireland. However, broadcast footage has so far been limited to news and documentaries such as Channel 4’s ‘Britain’s Supreme Court’, in February.

Viewers will be able to follow links to the Court’s summaries and background material on each case. Live streaming will be suspended where deemed necessary by the Justices. Jenny Rowe, the Court’s chief executive, said: “We hope that making available live video of the court’s hearings and judgments will help the legal profession, and inspire and educate the next generation.”

TV cameras were first allowed into an English courtroom, in the Royal Courts of Justice, in 2004, in a trial run for wider broadcast rights. The former Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, argued for TV crews to be given access to Court of Appeal hearings and Crown Court trials. However, his proposals were later dropped by his successor, Jack Straw, and a ban on television cameras remains in all court rooms apart from the Supreme Court.

TV cameras have been allowed, in theory, in the Scottish courts since 1992. However, this has rarely happened in practice (such as in the appeal of Abdelbaset Mohmed Al Megrahi, who was convicted of the Lockerbie bombing) since all parties involved must give their consent. 
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