UPDATE: You can vote to repeal the ban on recording court proceedings here (Thanks to Alistair Kelman in the comments)
Heather Brooke is calling for a campaign to allow recording in UK courts. I agree. In the comments below, let’s talk strategy.
Meanwhile, here’s some of the background from Brooke’s related blog post:
“The simple answer is to allow tape recorders for all: no party is disadvantaged and an ‘official’ recording is there for checking. This is how it works in other countries. But this is to ignore the root objection of the courts: that they are losing control of how court proceedings are presented to the public.”
“You might like to know whether the builder you’re going to give your keys to has any convictions for theft or if the company you’re about to do business with has a report for fraud. Tough. This information is not a click of a button away. Instead you’ll have to know the details of the case before you can call up any records – even though it’s the existence of cases that you’re trying to find in the first place. It’s Catch-22. If you do know the details of the case you’re then forced to undergo a tortuous and tedious process which involves battling a raft of petty officials across a number of court offices all for the simple purpose of accessing information that is supposedly public.”
“There are three main things that would make the courts useful to the general public:
- knowing by name who is using them (the court list);
- why (the particulars of claim);
- the result (the verdict, sentence or settlement).
“Yet trying to get any, let alone all, of these is fraught with difficulty.”
So: strategy. To kick things off, I’ll give you 3 starters:
- the much-mocked Your Freedom website inviting suggestions for laws to get rid of (how seriously is this being taken in government?)
- the Number 10 petitions site (likewise)
- Contact your MP.
Come up with some better ideas than that, and we’re somewhere.
Meanwhile, to spread awareness of this, why not tweet about this with the hashtag #opencourts (UPDATE: Also #courtrecord thanks to @JackofKent)
what about writing to both the AG and the Lord Chief Justice?
Thanks – contact details for the Attorney General’s office at http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.uk/Pages/ContactUs.aspx
Now, can someone else find an address to write to the Lord Chief Justice at?
And perhaps we should identify what we are asking for and why. Heather’s blog post pretty much covers it…
OK, I was just trying to make it easy for someone to contribute. The Lord Chief Justice’s address is:
Royal Courts of Justice
How about a page in FB… it could prove effective to network around and gather inputs..
If you do it, I’ll join it.
yeah, I couldn’t find an easier address than that, either.
I have just put up a request at the Government Web site “Your Freedom” calling for the abolition of Section 9 of the Contempt of Court Act.
http://yourfreedom.hmg.gov.uk/repealing-unnecessary-laws/abolish-the-ban-on-recording-court-proceedings. Please join and comment to it
Thanks Alistair – very welcome and being retweeted around very well.
There might be certain subversive forces who possess cameras that want to make taking snaps of plod legal again by mass photographing or videoing a members of the police in a heinous protest?
Then upon that more feasible victory they could just ride the wave of enthusiasm to something like allowing recordings in court which are obviously more difficult to accomplish and pivotal to journalism and the laws surround it. Bit Gandhi this non-violent stuff, but then again if some of these hypothetical protestors have their flash enabled I’m sure the virtuous constabularies will try to work the big scary bright light out to be a terrorist ‘assault’! A jolly good thing they can too as I’d not feel safe otherwise!!
-Pete @ dirtygarnet.com
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Good to see this being debated – I can’t think of any ideas beyond what others have come up with (although I will be blogging about it myself later) but I’ve voted for Alistair’s request as a start!
There is a connected issue – as a member of the public you may find that you are not allowed to take a laptop or netbook into the courtroom. I first ran into this extraordinary state of affairs last April when a group of Cambridge cryptography graduates wished to view the Alan Jobs ATM civil proceedings against HBOS. The security officers at the court were not allowing members of the public to go into any courts with their computers ‘for security reasons’. This was after a policy decision from the Court Service – which has never been publicised.
Is that policy decision recorded anywhere?
Not to my knowledge. This happened in Nottingham County Court in April 2009. Anyone wanting to come in with a laptop/netbook had to leave it with “Security’. The case I attended was http://www.alikelman.com/jobhbos.pdf
about writing to both the AG and the Lord Chief Justice?
There is now a high profile court case regarding an 85 year old man who was imprisoned for six months in solitary confinement for attempting to record a court hearing in Bradford. Please support him by attending court on August 25.
Supporters of Norman Scarth, human rights activists, activists for justice and judicial reform, media, and all interested parties are urged to attend the following high profile human rights court case IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST.
SEE DETAILS: THE VOICE OF RUSSIA http://english.ruvr.ru/tag_54899948/
Media contact: Chris Jarvis +44-754521-0066 Chris@socialservicehell.org
Scarth vs HMP Leeds – HISTORY IN THE MAKING
Please distribute, post and publish that the case in the matter of Scarth v HMP Leeds Prison Governor reconvenes for a full trial on Thursday 25 August 2011, Royal Courts of Justice, London, UK, after the hearing on 18th August, 2011, where with the Writ of Habeas Corpus was Ordered to be serviced by the Court in full Public view on HMP Leeds, and the Ministry of Justice was to be notified.
We invite as many people as possible to come down and witness a moment in history as we, the people hold the Prison, Judiciary, Crown and Government to account in a peaceful Lawful Rebellion on behalf of our friend Norman Scarth, a WWII hero and Human Rights Veteran and Activist, held UNLAWFULLY in HMP Leeds violating not only his inalienable God given rights as a living man, but many Acts of statute Law as written in Legal terms by the Government.
There is both international media interest and domestic interest in this human rights violation PUBLIC INTEREST case. It is landmark creating, as the public is joining forces against injustice and, despite facing many obstacles, is overcoming them with solidarity and the hope of a better, brighter future for all, in the name of our friend Norman Scarth the living man.
There cannot be much more comment on the progress of the case until then as anything said may jeopardise the outcome, although, what is noteworthy is that this is our Lawful Rebellion and a peaceful means of resolving problems in the face of images on the Television of businesses closing, due to being burnt out while the minority run on the rampage, we are the majority, we are the peace, we are united and will NEVER be divided.
Be there on Thursday 25 August 2011 at the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand in London to help a friend and be part of history in the making, having overcome all the delays and hurdles so far, Norman Scarth will be heard via Video link as per his own wish of not wanting to suffer Prison transport from Leeds to London in no comfort, and little flesh on his buttocks (his own words), and he will be represented by a three man Litigation team as led by Chris Jarvis, where the Prison governor or his deputy will have to give good cause as to why Norman Scarth should not be released, the Ministry of Justice has been notified and they have the power to intervene, in the words of Mr Justice Wyn Williams “You never know who will be here next week”.
PLEASE SIGN PETITION AND READ COMMENTS: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/free-wwii-veteran-norman-scarth-from-leeds-prison.html
FOLLOW ON TWITTER @freenorman
Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London, W2CA 2LL PHONE: 0207 947 6000 WATCH WEBSITE FOR COURT LISTINGS APPROX 24 HOURS BEFOREHAND (changed daily)