BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Scotland  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 9 January, 2002, 22:23 GMT
Lockerbie appeal to be screened
Court TV camera
Routine televising of trials is "a long way away"
The decision to allow the BBC to televise the Lockerbie bomber's appeal has been hailed as an "important step" by a Scottish legal expert.

However, Professor Jim Murdoch, of Glasgow University's law department, said the decision by Scotland's lord justice general should not be viewed as setting a precedent for the future.

Lord Cullen granted an application by the BBC to broadcast and provide an internet stream of the appeal proceedings, which are due to begin at Camp Zeist, near Utrecht, Holland, on 23 January.

Zeist studio
The trial was not broadcast to the public
Prof Murdoch said the decision was a crucial one for broadcasters in reinforcing the role of the media as a "watchdog" but he stressed that Scotland was still a long way from seeing the routine televising of trials.

He told BBC News Online: "This is an important step, but one which should not be seen necessarily as establishing a new precedent.

"We are - thankfully - still a great distance removed from American practice which readily allows the broadcasting of trials."

The focus on ensuring justice, he said, had rightly led to a refusal to allow broadcasting of the trial of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi and his then co-accused Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, who was acquitted.

However, the appeal circumstances would be different as there would be no witnesses giving evidence.

Prof Murdoch said: "The Scottish legal system rightly places the fair administration of justice as of paramount concern and the court's refusal to allow the broadcasting of the trial proceedings was understandable.

'Legal argument'

"There would have been real concerns whether witnesses giving evidence could have been affected by the knowledge that their words would have been broadcast around the globe; further the legal system recognises that witnesses in trials may often require to be protected against the possibility of identification.

"The broadcasting of appeal proceedings concerning legal argument does not give rise to such concerns, and the watchdog role of the media in helping scrutinise the administration of justice can thus be more readily acknowledged."

Prof Murdoch said the broadcast of the appeal proceedings on television and the internet would assist people around the world in giving their own judgements on the trial.

"The decision will allow a much wider audience more easily to observe the appeal court's determination of whether the trial court's conviction was a safe one," he said.


Full verdicts
Lockerbie opinion posted by Scots Court Service
Lockerbie megapuff graphic

AUDIO VIDEO

Appeal concludes

Key stories

Features

The trial
See also:

09 Jan 02 | Scotland
23 Aug 01 | In Depth
02 May 01 | In Depth
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Scotland stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Scotland stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes