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Tuesday, September 1, 1998 Published at 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK


Talking Point


Should cameras be allowed in court?

Televised court cases stand accused of ruining defendants lives and making a mockery of the judicial process. The accusations come from former British au pair Louise Woodward.

She complained that televising her trial for the murder of Matthew Eappen had given her unwanted celebrity, trivialised proceedings and made it impossible for her to live a normal life.

But she did not deny that it may also have played a big part in swaying public opinion and starting the campaign for her early release.


Callers have their say on BBC Radio 5Live's Nicky Campbell programme
Television cameras are commonplace in American courts but not allowed in the UK - although their use has been tested in a few cases in Scotland.

So are court proceedings suitable material for television schedules? Or is real-life courtroom drama just fuel to voyeuristic tendencies? Does anyone really watch from an interest in the law?

Louise says that cameras turn "a courtroom into a soap opera". They also make the public the police of the court.

Her lawyer says - for his profession - cameras make carrying out the law very hard.

Others say cameras in court are a crime in themselves - guilty of witness intimidation, intrusion of privacy and making rich channel executives richer.

But there are those who argue that the cameras play a key part. They say the public wants to know and has the right to know how the justice system works.

Others agree that such viewing is educational. They say the public can visit courtrooms - the television just saves them the trouble.

While many others believe public opinion can take an important, active role in seeing that justice is done.

Louise's trial pulled in huge television audiences in the US and was shown on Sky TV in Britain.

What do you think?

Should cameras be allowed in court?


Your reaction in full





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