Court of Appeal calls in the cameras

Television cameras have been granted access to the Court of Appeal after a near 90-year ban on filming was lifted.

Broadcasters will be allowed to film the legal arguments and the final judgment in criminal and civil cases at the Court of Appeal from today (31 October). Victims, witnesses, defendants and jurors will not be filmed.

Courts Minister Shailesh Vara called the step a “landmark moment” that will enable the public to see and hear the decisions of judges.

“It is another significant step towards achieving our aim of having an open and transparent justice system,” she said in a statement today. ”We are clear that justice must be seen to be done and people will now have the opportunity to see that process with their own eyes. It will also help further the public’s understanding of the often complex process of criminal and civil proceedings.

“While this marks an opening up of the court process we will always balance the need to make the justice system more accessible with the needs of victims and witnesses. That is why we will ensure that throughout the court process, they will not be filmed.” 

The move follows years of campaigning by broadcasters BBC, Sky, ITV and Press Association. Each media organisation will cover the costs of filming, with each only able to film proceedings from one court room on any given day.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas also praised the new rules. He said today: “My fellow judges and I welcome the start of broadcasting from the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal has, of course, been open to the public and to journalists for a long time.

”The change in the law which is now coming into force will permit the recording and broadcasting of the proceedings of the Court of Appeal.  This will help a wider audience to understand and see for themselves how the Court of Appeal goes about its work.”

Filmings in courts other than the Supreme Court has been banned since the Criminal Justice Act 1925. Broadcasters in Scotland have been able to film in court since 1992, but only with the consent of all parties involved.

The public gained a rare insight into Scottish courts earlier this year after Channel 4 broadcast a real-life murder trial. Read how Ch4 in-house lawyer Dominic Harrison negotiated with the Scottish High Court in All 4 one