BBC, ITN and Sky lobby for television cameras in court

“The ability to witness justice in action is a fundamental freedom” claims a letter to MPs

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The BBC, ITN and Sky have sent a joint letter to MPs calling for the lifting of the ban on television cameras in British courtrooms.

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The letter, co-signed by director of BBC News Helen Boaden, head of ITN (Independent Television News) John Hardie and Sky News chief John Ryley, claimed the move would improve public understanding of the justice system and provide a “fundamental freedom”.

“The ability to witness justice in action, in the public gallery, is a fundamental freedom,” said the letter. “Television will make the public gallery open to all. The administration of justice is a key part of a democracy.”

The Ministry of Justice announced last September that it intended to allow the limited televising of courtroom proceedings, with an adjournment debate – a House of Commons debate that does not require a vote – set for Wednesday 8 February.

However, Boaden, Hardie and Ryley are keen to speed the process along. They want to ensure legislation to overturn the ban is included in this year’s Queen’s Speech ahead of the state opening of Parliament in spring, arguing that subsequent discussions as to the limit and logistics of filming in court are likely to be detailed and long-winded, meaning the first case would not appear on television for some time. 

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The letter dismissed concerns raised over the potential lifting of the ban, saying “we believe that the outcome can only be positive”.