Monday, May 29, 2023
HomeWorld NewsFirst Televised Sentencing at English Court Makes Legal History

First Televised Sentencing at English Court Makes Legal History

Television cameras have been allowed in an English court for the first time following a change in the law that will allow broadcasters to film judges’ sentencing of serious crimes.

Judge Sarah Munro QC made legal history on Thursday as she sentenced 25-year-old Ben Oliver to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 10 years and eight months in front of cameras.

The move will open up some of the most high-profile courts across the country, including the Central Criminal Court, which is more commonly known as the Old Bailey, where cases against people accused of serious crimes are tried by a judge and jury.


Cameras have been prohibited in courts in England and Wales since 1925, which is why there haven’t been any televised trials in the same vein as those of O.J. Simpson in the United States, Amanda Knox in Italy, and Oscar Pistorius in South Africa. Previously, proceedings were only broadcast from certain Court of Appeal cases.

On Thursday, the government said that the new rules mean it “will allow the public to see and hear judges explain the reasoning behind their sentences, giving a better understanding of how these decisions are reached. Only the judge will be filmed during any sentencing that is broadcast to protect the privacy of victims, witnesses, and jurors.

The footage was broadcast on news channels and made available online through Sky News, the BBC, ITN, and the PA news agency.

The sentencing of Oliver took place in Court Two, one of the Old Bailey’s oldest courtrooms.

Oliver had been cleared of murder having admitted the manslaughter of his 74-year-old grandfather David Oliver last year.

In 2016, the 25-year-old was convicted of sexual offences against a young girl when he was aged 15 and was released from youth detention in September 2019.

The court heard he repeatedly stabbed his victim in the face and then confessed what he had done to his grandmother.

Prosecutor Louis Mably QC told jurors Oliver carried out the killing after learning of allegations against his grandfather of historical sexual abuse.

Separately, the court was told that the defendant had depressed and suicidal thoughts and an autistic spectrum disorder which, combined with other emotional and mental factors, diminished his responsibility for the killing.

Improve Transparency and Reinforce Confidence

The move to allow cameras in courts was first promised nine years ago.

Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said that “opening up the courtroom to cameras to film the sentencing of some of the country’s most serious offenders will improve transparency and reinforce confidence in the justice system.”

“The public will now be able to see justice handed down, helping them understand better the complex decisions judges make,” he added.

“This provision is part of the government’s wider court reform and digitalisation programme to increase access to justice, including the roll out of video technology to facilitate thousands of remote hearings and the use of video-recorded evidence for victims of rape and sexual offences,” the government wrote a press release.

PA Media contributed to this report.

Owen Evans


Owen Evans is a UK-based journalist covering a wide range of national stories, with a particular interest in civil liberties and free speech.

Source link


Most Popular

Recent Comments