UK Still Reticent About Cameras in Court
David Cameron may have recently championed cameras in court and greater transparency may be something which many people aspire to but UK judges are still extremely unhappy about the prospect of any cameras in their courtrooms, be they television, press or an unlucky member of the viewing gallery who might decide to take a photo on their camera phone as happened this week in Luton crown court.
A rather silly (and now no doubt sorry) nineteen year old boy this week was the subject of a rather severe lesson on civics and the rules of the law courts when he took a photo of the courtroom he was sitting in. After getting a text from one of his friends asking where he was, the boy decided that because he could not speak, he would send a photo of the courtroom. Unfortunately for him police in court noticed him taking that photo on his Blackberry, his phone was seized and he was taken down to the cells and placed under arrest.
When he reappeared in court later the judge charged him with contempt of court and the young lad was sentenced to 2 months in prison. For those who think this unduly harsh here is what Judge Mensah told the young lad:
There are clear notices everywhere around this court building regarding not taking photographs anywhere in court. It is a very serious offence and clearly this message must get out that people are not allowed to take photos.
It is perhaps to the boys misfortune that Judges across the board have recently been expression their frustration at how to deal with contempt of court via the seemingly endless methods of filming, streaming, tweeting and other ways of communication. Of most concern to the judges is that modern forms of communication could be used to pass messages either to the jury or from the jury to the outside world and consequently they have been cracking down on any perceived infraction of the rules. When it comes to taking photographs in court, perhaps they have decided that locking everyone up is the only way to go!
Alex is a journalist and freelance legal blogger. He loves to write about everything from international news to international law. He is an expert on Illinois injury law.
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