Page last updated at 13:01 GMT, Tuesday, 2 October 2012 14:01 UK

Justice Committee

Donald Findlay QC told the Justice Committee televising criminal trials could "put lives at risk".

Mr Findlay, chair of the Faculty of Advocates was giving evidence as the committee considered the role of the media in Scottish criminal trials on 2 October 2012.

The leading QC said while he was not against TV in courts for appeals and sentencing he would always be opposed to the broadcasting of criminal trials: "You put pressure on witnesses, it's difficult enough to get people to come forward, you put pressure on the citizen, on the accused, if you are acquitted why should you have your image blasted into every home by the television".

He added: "People who are convicted or acquitted of criminal charges could have their lives put at risk because there are people out there who may want to seek vengeance".

Human rights solicitor, Aamer Anwar said if cameras were let into cover trials it would "open the floodgates to the "Hollywoodisation" of the criminal justice system.

Alan McCloskey from Victim Support Scotland said coming to court was traumatic for victims and to have the spot light add to the media part of that circus added a different dimension.

Mr McCloskey said: "The ability or the facility to have TV cameras running, particularly in the high profile cases, could in some cases affect evidence and allow for the victim or the witness not to give their best evidence and that could have an impact on justice."

On behalf of the law journal, The Firm, Steven Raeburn said cameras in court would "add greatly to the administration of justice" providing more scrutiny.

Mr Raeburn said if court proceedings were broadcast as they transpired, with perhaps a time delay and with safeguards like only filming the bench and court professionals, then he was no entirely satisfied that the concerns of witnesses would outweigh the public interest.

Former Scotland editor of the Times Magnus Linklater also backed the continuous tv streaming of a trial.

Since 1992 judges have had the power to allow restricted filming in Scottish courts which is subject to vetting by the court and broadcast at a later date.

Despite the change 20 years ago, permission has rarely been given.

In April of this year cameras were allowed to film the sentencing of David Gilroy for the murder of Suzanne Pilley.

The Lockerbie bomber's appeal against his conviction was televised in 2002, and in 1996 the BBC were allowed to film the sentencing of two armed robbers.

Also giving evidence were Helen Arnot head of legal and regulatory affairs and Matt Roper the digital news editor at STV, Alistair Bonnington the former principal solicitor with BBC Scotland, Det Ch Sup John Cuddihy from the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland and David Harvie from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.

Iain McKie, the campaigner and former police officer who fought for his daughter Shirley McKie over the fingerprint scandal, also gave evidence.

The evidence session will inform MSPs ahead of a full parliamentary debate on the issue later this month.

Justice Committee membership


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