Journalists protested when some courts announced they would no longer supply the media with lists of cases that were due to be heard – including charges and details of defendants – because of the General Data Protection Regulation. The Ministry of Justice quickly corrected the “misunderstanding”. Read more.
Media law trainer David Banks wrote a provocative blog post on the affair, in which he also asked why the lists are not available to the public.
Journalists don’t have the same freedoms in the family court as they do in others, but in a test-run aimed at improving transparency, lawyers who also blog are to be allowed to report cases. But they must prove their credentials. It’s only for a trial period. Read more (August 2018).
Journalism students spent a week monitoring 300 cases at Bristol magistrates’ court and found 50 of them to be newsworthy, but only saw a professional journalist on the third day of the exercise. They found deficiencies in the justice system – some of them pointed out by a magistrate. Read more in The Justice Gap.
A reported proposal to test “digital trials”, with hearings held online, would be a threat to open justice and could confuse some defendants into pleading guilty, say critics and academics. Elsewhere, concerns have been expressed about local journalists having access to the court. Read a piece in The Guardian here.
As part of a billion-pound modernization of the court system, a panel was set up in January 2018 to help the media have better access to the courts: partly to counter a decline in court reporting. Proposals included training staff to understand the media’s needs. Read more
Parents and even editors are afraid to talk about what goes on in the family courts, a freelance journalist declared at a debate on privacy versus accountability in this sensitive area. “A sense of fear pervades the system,” said Louise Tickle. Democracy suffered, the audience was told. Read more from The Transparency Project here.
A media law lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University has criticised England’s courts for being forbidding places for student journalists and members of the public – and says that undermines open justice. Click the pics to read his piece.