News crew gets green light to film in court

A television news team has been given access to film in a Scottish court for the first time.

The Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Ross, recently allowed a television crew to film the sentencing of two armed robbers who had pleaded guilty.

Filming in Scottish courts has been possible since 1992, when Lord Hope issued guidelines giving limited court access to television crews for educational or documentary purposes. Prior to this, cameras were not allowed within the precincts of the court.

The latest move comes at a time when Lord Chief Justice Taylor is opposing the use of television in courts in England and Wales.

Speaking earlier this month on the rights of witnesses, Lord Taylor said: “There is one very important thing which should emphatically not be done. That would be to admit television cameras into our criminal courts. I am very concerned about the effect it would have on witnesses.

“Giving evidence in court…is in itself a very stressful experience. Adding to this the stress and anxiety which being televised would involve is in my view wholly unjustifiable.”

Although Scottish judges have taken a more liberal attitude to televised trials, they will probably remain rare. Peter Anderson, a solicitor advocate and partner at Edinburgh firm Simpson & Marwick, said: “We are still a long way away from treating television access to the courts as something automatic.”