Clause 28 - Enabling the making, and use, of films and other recordings of proceedings

Crime and Courts Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:32 pm ar 31 Ionawr 2013.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Damian Green Damian Green Minister of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office) , The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice

I beg to move amendment 70, in clause 28, page 30, line 18, leave out from ‘In’ to end of line 20 and insert

“the case of any particular proceedings of a court or tribunal, the court or tribunal may in the interests of justice or in order to ensure that a person is not unduly prejudiced—”.

Clause 28 provides for the current bans on photography and sound recording in courts to be lifted, under conditions to be set out in secondary legislation. Allowing the public to see first hand at least part of the court process will help to increase their understanding of the justice system, make it less opaque and increase public confidence. However, while it is important for justice to be seen to be done, it cannot be at the expense of the proper administration of justice. The courts deal with serious matters that can affect the liberty, livelihood and reputation of all the parties involved. It is vital therefore that safeguards are in place to protect the rights and interests of individuals connected with proceedings, and the interests of justice.

To that end, we propose that clause 28 should be amended to strengthen the judiciary’s veto to stop or suspend filming or to prohibit the broadcasting of filmed material. The clause currently allows the court to decide that particular proceedings should not be filmed or broadcast, where necessary to ensure the fairness of the proceedings or that any person involved in the proceedings is not unduly prejudiced. Those tests should be broadened to allow the judicial veto to be used when any person may suffer undue prejudice as a result of filming or broadcast. As it stands, only individuals who are party to proceedings are protected. However, the court should be allowed to consider the impact on other individuals not party to proceedings, for example the families of victims and offenders, when considering whether to use the judicial veto.

Furthermore, the court should be able to stop or suspend filming or prevent broadcast in the interests of justice, rather than just to ensure the fairness of proceedings. That will enable the judiciary to look at the wider impact of filming and broadcasting, beyond the direct impact on the proceedings in question, when deciding whether to permit filming or broadcasting. While the tests broaden the factors that the court is entitled to consider when deciding whether to allow the broadcasting of proceedings,  we believe they still carry a presumption in favour of broadcasting. As such, I commend amendment 70 to the Committee.

Photo of Jenny Chapman Jenny Chapman Shadow Minister (Justice) 3:00, 31 Ionawr 2013

We welcome the clause and are in favour of the principle that open justice will enhance understanding of our justice system and increase confidence in sentencing. We welcome in particular the amendments introduced by the Government in another place to make any order made by the Lord Chancellor under clause 28 subject to an affirmative resolution procedure. There is precedent for broadcasting certain elements of proceedings in the Supreme Court and that is working well. The number of people using the service shows that there is some public appetite for it and that people may engage with the courts process in this way.

We agree with the measured proposals put forward by the Government to allow judgments and legal arguments in cases before the Court of Appeal to be broadcast, with the proposal to take those forward in time and, with much scrutiny and care, to the High Court. We support the safeguards in the Bill that leave discretion with the court to stop filming, or refuse to allow broadcast of recorded footage, where it is concerned that it would interfere with the proper administration of justice.

We know that the Government intend that victims, witnesses, jurors and defendants would not be filmed in any circumstances. That requirement is not in the Bill but is expected to be included in secondary legislation.  Is the Minister happy to put on record that the safeguards against the filming of those parties will be placed in statute? We can support the proposal but we would like the Minister to update the Committee on the work the Government intend to do to ensure that victims and witnesses are properly protected. In which case, I expect we can support the provision.

Photo of Damian Green Damian Green Minister of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office) , The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her initial remarks. As she says, we believe that justice should be seen to be done. We also believe there clearly need to be protections. I am grateful for her support for the extension of protection offered under our amendment.

The hon. Lady asked specifically about the secondary legislation. Our current plan is that it should be inclusionary rather than exclusionary. In other words, rather than specifically delineating groups of people who cannot be filmed, it will say who can be filmed. The current plans are that they will be judges and advocates. I hope that meets her consideration; it has just been done in a different way.

Amendment 70 agreed to.

Clause 28, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 29 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Ordered, That further consideration be now adjourned. —(Mr Syms.)

Adjourned till Tuesday 5 February at five minutes to Nine o’clock.