Judge to probe wider use of filming in Scottish courts
A NEW review which could lead to cameras being more widely used in court has been launched by Scotland’s most senior judge.
Lord Gill, Lord President of Scotland’s judiciary, has announced the “fundamental review” in response to the growing use of video technology.
In April, the sentencing of David Gilroy to life in prison was filmed in a Scottish first. He was ordered to serve a minimum of 18 years for the murder of Suzanne Pilley.
There was a delay, so the footage could be checked to ensure nothing defamatory or inappropriate was shouted from the dock or public gallery, and then it was streamed to the media.
Following the hearing, a survey of lawyers and academics by Scottish Legal News showed almost half thought cameras should become a regular fixture.
However, victims’ groups have warned the justice system must be sensitive to families, and make sure they are informed before the wider public.
Lord Gill believes technology has changed so much in the last 20 years, that the time has come to question the assumption that, ordinarily, cameras should not be allowed in the courtroom.
He has instructed judicial office holders to carry out a review, with no new applications to film in court to be considered until it is completed. The Judicial Office for Scotland receives between three and four requests to film in court each year.
In a statement, the Judiciary of Scotland said: “The Lord President, the Rt Hon Lord Gill, has decided to conduct a fundamental review of the current policy on the use of television cameras in court.
“The Lord President has determined that the current policy requires to be revisited and given extended consideration.
“He has instructed that a review be undertaken by judicial office holders.
“Until this review is completed no further applications to film in court will be considered by the Judicial Office for Scotland.”
Ms Pilley, a former lover of Gilroy, went missing from Edinburgh in May 2010.
Her body has never been never found and the murder investigation attracted huge public interest. When Gilroy was sentenced, the television camera focused solely on the judge, Lord Bracadale.
It was the first time sentencing in a British High Court had been filmed for an on-the-day TV broadcast.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The matter of televising court proceedings sits rightly with the Lord President.
“The judiciary is best placed to consider when cameras should be allowed in court whist maintaining an open and fair court system.
“We look forward to seeing the outcome of the review.”
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