Society backs HMCTS project to promote press access to courts
18 January 2018
The Society of Editors is supporting a project launched by the HM Courts and Tribunal Service to promote access to courts.
Announced today, the project will see a team, including representatives from the Society of Editors and News Media Association, dedicated to exploring ways of promoting media reporting in courts
Bringing together representatives from HMCTS and across the media, the group will develop new ways to build strong relationships between media organisations and their local courts, and improve and promote the existing guidance to staff relating to media access.
Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors, said: "The Society of Editors is delighted to be involved in this tremendously important work in ensuring open access to the courts for journalists. Nothing can be more important for local communities than to have faith that justice is being delivered fairly on their behalf and that can only be done by reporting court proceedings. The Society is grateful to HMCTS for initiating this procedure.”
Transparency and openness are being promoted as embedded into HMCTS’ £1bn reform and its current modernisation of courts and tribunals. It is hoped that the changes introduced through digital reforms will mean there are many more ways to access justice without the need to travel and physically attend court. For cases that do need to go to court, there will be more modern and well-connected courtrooms.
Susan Acland-Hood, CEO of HMCTS, said: “The reporting of court proceedings has long been an important part of maintaining public confidence in our justice system. So its decline in recent years represents a real concern.
“I want to ensure that HMCTS is doing all we can to promote media coverage of court hearings as part of our commitment to openness and transparency, and I am pleased that media organisations have joined us to consider this issue together. I look forward to receiving its recommendations.”
Santha Rasaiah, legal, policy and regulatory affairs director for News Media UK, said:
“‘Court reporting is essential to open justice. The NMA warmly welcomes this HMCTS initiative to help the courts and news media, local and national, to work together in furthering and facilitating press access and reporting.
“This translates that vital principle into everyday practice, to the benefit of the public that they both serve. It is in itself another example of such constructive co-operation and we are pleased to be working together again.”
The project was launched at the Society’s ‘Crisis in Our Courts’ seminar that was held in London today. The seminar heard from former Lord Chief Justice Lord Igor Judge, John Whittingdale MP, London Evening Standard court reporter Tristan Kirk, Ian Murray, Executive Director of the Society and HMCTS Communications Director Ed Owen. The seminar focused on how to improve coverage and attendance at court hearings.