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    IN THE



    Justice Committee of the Scottish Parliament

     28th Meeting, 2012 (Session 4), Tuesday 2 October 2012

     The role of the media in criminal trials 

    Written submission from Aamer Anwar, Criminal Defence Lawyer

    Research assistance provided by Mark R Leiser- University of Strathclyde School of Law 

    This submission considers the following issues: contempt of court, jury deliberations, the internet and social media, televising of court proceedings and the use of live text based communication from court

    Contempt of court

    The administration of justice requires that it is free from interference and obstruction. Whilst the courts have significant power to punish contempt uncertainty remains as to the remit of contempt. The mere mention of Contempt of Court Act appears to have a chilling effect on proceedings, even though certain reporting may not prejudice proceedings.

    Recent events surrounding Phone-hacking, Hillsborough and the Leveson Inquiry have raised the level of public distrust in the press to unprecedented levels.   However the guarantee to an open and fair justice system is underpinned by coverage of proceedings by a free press. The press will argue that this is about “transparency”, “openness”, “a fairer and accessible court system”. But the only group that actually benefits from this arrangement is the press who can sell advertising or boost their ratings.

    There are however legitimate concerns within the legal profession that a move towards the televising of court trials will degenerate into ‘prime time entertainment’ as it did with the OJ Simpson trial or the Michael Jackson murder trial.

    The Los Angeles Times reported that out of a potential jury pool of 147 LA citizens who indicated they are able to serve on the two-month trial, only three reported that they knew nothing about the case—due, no doubt, to extensive media coverage of the pop-star’s death in 2009 and the accusation of Dr Murray that followed.

    Had this happened in Scotland, we would have to have searched for 15 impartial peers in time for a speedy trial in line with his European Court of Human Rights and Freedoms.  Ironically, one of these protections under European jurisprudence is the right to a public trial. There is a general consensus that the European Human Rights Act public trial provision includes allowing citizens to attend court proceedings in criminal matters, but whether that right extends to allowing the media to bring the courtroom into Scotland’s living rooms is a wholly different matter.

    So historically, the arguments against cameras in the courtroom have been about high-profile cases. They are about how the press intrusion may affect the trial participants, especially the jury and how they may be distracted by them; the potential of public speculation may unfairly sway the outcome for either side; and the media spotlight diminishes the dignity of the court.

    Before I address these specific issues, it is important to recognise the role that the media has to play in the courts. Had it not been for the free press then it is likely that issues such as child abuse, forced marriages, rape, honour killings and trafficking of women would have remained hidden away.

    The treatment of such cases by the media meant that the criminal justice system was held to account for its failures in addressing such issues, as we recently saw in the Rochdale ‘child grooming’ cases.

    The real question that arises for Parliament and the Justice Committee is whether there a need for further legislation in light of advances in technology?


    There are those who will argue that instant access to information on the internet leaves the Contempt of Court Act redundant and unfairly focused on the print media. I do not accept such an argument as the internet reinforces an even greater need to protect the right to a fair trial.

    The internet has profoundly impacted on our lives in the last decade as well as the relationship between the courts and the media. We live with a 24 hour news culture in which information can accessed by anyone be they juror, witness or member of the public at the touch of a button.  And the major difference between the press and the press using the Internet comes down to gatekeepers. The editors that check the legality and content of the article, a website manager that can remove any erroneous articles, etc. and the limitation of the length of a tweet – 140 characters.

    People that choose to read an article on the BBC or on STV will likely read the ENTIRE article, ensuring the counterpoints of both side of the editorial process. A tweet, for example, is limited to only 140 characters, not words, but characters. A challenge to anyone in itself, but it is nearly impossible for a journalist to summarize both sides of a direct and a cross examination in 140 characters.

    Twitter’s architecture and design is simple. One is limited to seeing tweets from those you follow; those who follow you; and those “RE-TWEETS” of those who you don’t follow but one of your followed chooses to Re-tweet.

    This means that the audience for any single tweet can theoretically be seen by millions, and in a judicial context, it means that a 140 character tweet about a particularly damning piece of testimony by a crown witness could be seen and/or RT’ed to an audience of millions. A picture of Barack Obama was retweeted over 60K times, a Justin Bieber tweet over 200K. But there is absolutely no guarantee that a user on twitter will see any subsequent tweet by its original author.

    This means that a Journalist who in good faith tweeting both sides of a trial in a fair and impartial manner might have one tweet RT’ed hundreds of times, but a tweet describing the cross examination might never get seen by anyone remotely interested in the case. In this manner, the technology is not meant to be fair and impartial, even though the journalist may be.


    In the age of new media public prosecutors, Judges, lawyers and Police Officers feel an ‘intense’ pressure to use twitter, internet and the more traditional ‘forms’ of media to get their message across. This should be the limitation of Twitter and other forms of social media in the courtroom.

    This means that the Contempt of Court Act is more relevant than it has ever been. In conjunction with other safeguards it balances the right to free speech with those of a fundamental right to a fair trial. It is unlikely that would be possible without the threat of prosecution which always ‘helps concentrate minds’.

    There is no room for complacency. It is of increasing concern that sufficient safeguards for jurors are not built into our trial process. There is an over reliance on jurors simply being told to ignore what they may have read in or heard about in the media.

    15 ordinary men and women can be asked to step into the High Court and will sometimes sit for several weeks, listening to evidence and at the conclusion of legal arguments will decide on an accused’s guilt or innocence. Yet there is little research into what actually goes in the Juror’s room, or whether Jurors even understand the verbal instructions given to them by trial judges.

    There is much opinion and suspicion on what happens in the Jury room or what jurors do with their computers when they go home, but it is no more than speculation. For example, if someone tweets the discussion of what was argued between both Crown and Defence out-with the presence of the jury, this tweet could go “viral” and compromise the integrity of the jury.

    Surely now is the time that Jurors should be provided written guidelines on what their roles and responsibilities are, as well as an explanation of what is unacceptable conduct. It takes a great deal of ‘guts’ for one individual to stand up to 14 strangers if they believe something has gone wrong, yet for some reason the courts do not provide written guidance. I strong suspect that ’12 Angry Men’ is not the experience of every Jury room in our jurisdiction.


    Parliament should consider whether legislation should be extended to advise Jurors of the serious criminal sanctions if they were to breach their oath and to carry out internet research, particularly focusing on the jury accessing social media in any form during the duration of the trial.

    The implementation of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 dispensed with any need for jurors to be sequestered. But in 2012 I do not feel that there are sufficient safeguards to ensure the right to a fair trial in light of the advances in technology.

    The United States of America has a first amendment which allows ‘free speech’, yet it also has other safeguards such as jury vetting to ensure the right to a fair trial. In the absence of such safeguards in our Jurisdiction it is essential that the Contempt of Court is enforced rigorously and updated to take account of technological advances.

    When a judge instructs a jury to put out of their minds material they may have read in Newspapers or the Internet, how can he ensure that they have not already made their minds up? In the absence of vetting there surely must be a process by which a fair trial can be ensured?

    Our traditions rightly guarantees trial before a jury for serious crimes, it is a necessary protection for the rights of an individual against the abuse of power whether by corrupt police officers or the state. Of course some would argue to do away with the Jury system, this is not a viable option, however now is the time to address the concerns relevant to 21st Century Justice system.

    Being tried by a jury of your peers means that the Jury must be drawn from a genuine cross section of society. They are selected at random from the electoral roll, but it is often the case that that there can be a jury made up of 90% men or one without any ethnic minorities.

    In a recent trial, where the accused was of Asian descent and involved evidence related to Islam, a motion was made to the trial judge for the jury to be reflective of society and to include an ethnic minority. However, this was not considered possible on the grounds that the Judge felt it was a matter for Parliament to legislate upon. The resulting jury is often one with 15 white men and women. Whilst this is not the forum to raise such an issue, I merely raise it as an example of a genuine need to update and bring our Jury system into the 21st Century.

    Of course our courts have faith in a jury exercising their duty, but in the light of the internet, now is the time for Parliament to consider how we can ensure a jury’s impartiality.

    Juries do an extremely difficult job, often sitting for weeks on end listening to evidence conscientiously but should that Juror read material on the internet then it is always going to be difficult to remove it from one’s mind.

    For those who believe that the Contempt of Court Act should mean a policing of the Internet for accuracy, they fail to understand the nature of the ‘beast’. Once information reaches the net, it replicates and reforms and divides acting like a virus. Policing such material is ‘practically impossible’, which is why we would should consider taking steps to ensure the impartiality of the jury.

    It is human nature that when one is told about a matter and later in the day expected to give an opinion or decision on it, if one does not have personal knowledge then there will be a desire to find out some more.

    It is now inevitable that research will involve going onto Google, downloading material which one might consider helpful in arriving at a decision. Transfer this process to the scenario of the court room. Quite often in complex fraud or terrorism trials, lawyers themselves never mind the Jury will be bamboozled by evidence that requires a PHD to interpret what was said.

    The concern is that if a juror goes home and secretly downloads material to carry out research there is no way of challenging this information. There is simply a lot of bad information on the Internet.


    An Internet theorist and academic, Castells, argues in his work that the user reinforces their content with the “Daily Me” as we tend to surround ourselves with personalized content that reinforces our own ideals and values. The danger here is that jurors search out peoples’ opinions that are like their own to reinforce their own ideals. This may have devastating effects on accused who is outside a jury pool’s cultural norms.

    Ultimately the Jury’s deliberations and verdict must be based exclusively on the evidence heard in court. Research of this type will affect the juror’s decision making consciously or unconsciously.

    At the present the trial Judge’s directions are not in a language that are ‘severe and unequivocal’ enough for the Jury to understand the ‘severe’ consequences to themselves if they were to carry out such research.

    Surely the Jury should be told that in the event of suspicion or specific allegations arising, their Facebook, Twitter or computers could be checked and in the event of evidence of such research being found, they could pay the ultimate price with imprisonment.

    To be explicit our Jury system remains the’ Jewel in the Crown’, but needs to be brought into the 21st Century. I also remain concerned that the wide remit of the contempt of court inhibits freedom of expression.

    There is a failure to strike a balance between the right to freedom of expression and ensuring the right to a fair trial both guaranteed by ECHR articles 10 and 6. In the United States the First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech and there must actually be a genuine, serious and imminent threat to the administration of justice before the courts will even consider the threat of contempt.

    The lack of guidelines on what constitutes Contempt tends to mean there is little comment or discussion on court proceedings. Our Courts do not operate in a vacuum and just because proceedings are ‘live’ should not mean certain matters cannot be reported on provided that:

    it does not overstep the bounds imposed in the interests of the proper administration of justice reporting, including comment, on court proceedings contributes to their publicity and is thus perfectly consonant with requirement under Article 6 & 1 of the convention that hearings be in public. Not only do the media have the task of imparting such information and ideas; the public also has a right to   receive them. This is all the more so where a public figure is involved…Such persons inevitably and knowingly lay themselves open to close scrutiny by both journalists and the public at large…Accordingly, the limits of acceptable comment are wider as regards a politician as such than as a regards a private individual. However public figures are entitled to the enjoyment of the guarantees of a fair trial set out in Article 6 which in criminal proceedings include the right to an impartial tribunal, on the same basis as every other person. This must be borne in mind by journalists when commenting on pending criminal proceedings since the limits of permissible comment may not extend to statements which are likely to prejudice, whether intentionally or not, the chances of a person receiving a fair trial or to undermine the confidence of the public in the role of the courts in the administration of criminal justice[1]

    Clearly in the event of a horrendous crimes it is inevitable that there will be intense media and public interest, but this does not mean an individual cannot be tried simply because of the facts of it are being reported no matter how ‘intensive’ it is. The issue at stake is what the ‘content’ of the reporting is and whether it can be considered prejudicial.

    Lord Taylor CJ in the notorious case of Rosemary West rejected an argument based on prejudicial publicity by stating: 

    “the question raised on behalf of the defence is whether a fair trial could be held after such intensive publicity adverse to the accused. In our view it could. To hold otherwise would mean that if allegations of murder are sufficiently horrendous so as to inevitably shock the nation, the accused cannot be tried. That would be absurd.” (R v West (Rosemary) [1996] 2 Cr App R 374, at 386)

    It is essential that clear guidelines be provided by the courts as to what can be allowed. Whilst Editors of national newspapers can rely on a team of lawyers to advise them as to their liability, what does a Blogger or member of the public using Twitter do?

    The use of Google and other search engines has seen a huge amount of material appearing on the internet which could be considered prejudicial to a right to a fair trial. But there is a massive contradiction in the use of law to punish the perpetrators, whilst editors can be hauled up before judges to explain themselves, the fact remains that the courts have never ruled that a right to fair trial under Article 6(1) has been breached due to prejudicial reporting.

    On each and every occasion a judge’s directions to a jury are seen as an effective remedy despite substantial prejudicial reporting. In recent cases such as those of Tommy Sheridan, Nat Fraser, Luke Mitchell and Peter Tobin it is absolutely clear that reporting and ‘blogging’ has taken place on huge scale with internet hits prior to trial numbering in their hundreds of thousands, yet the courts were unwilling to take the step of halting proceedings against an accused, relying on the Trial judge advising the Jury ‘to put such material out of their minds’.

    Whilst jurors are expected to put out of their mind details of high profile cases freely available on the internet and disseminated through the population, the problem is that there is no research on the impact of such material on a Jury.

    Nor under the present law are we allowed to ask a jury as to what they understood of the directions or whether they have any knowledge from the internet about a case prior to trial.

    The last decade has also seen an increased ‘manipulation’ of the media in high profile murder trials to ensure convictions. A failure to clamp down on Intensive pre- trial publicity and public interest means that jurors are placed under an intolerable pressure to do what everybody expects of them and to convict the person in the dock. Frankly it is insulting to the intelligence of Jurors to assume because of some Judge’s instructions they will automatically develop selective amnesia.

    From my involvement in high profile trials over the years I am aware that whether it be my return to family, a ride in a taxi or simply socialising, everyone has an opinion and wishes to engage in discussion on a particular case, warranted or not.

    Therefore I have always wondered what happens to the Juror as she returns home at 6pm to Jackie Bird on ‘Reporting Scotland’ to be bombarded with questions by her husband, only to be followed by her teenagers bombarding her with details of what they saw on the internet about the case, then going to the pub with friends anxious to hear and tell her what they know. It’s time that we realised that our jurors do not live in a vacuum and are subject to the same pressures and influences that we are in our daily lives.

    In the case of Luke Mitchell the Crown/Police did little to halt pre-trial publicity and stood accused of playing to the expectations of the politicians or the general public. There is a danger an approach dictated by the grabbing of headlines is at the expense of the independence of our prosecutors conducting a fair trial in the public interest.

    Whilst as defence lawyers, some of us as a result of personal experiences tread ‘extremely carefully’ at speaking out on behalf of our clients, there seems to be a scramble by the authorities to get their 30 second sound bite onto the news.

    Victims already conduct campaigns through the media, some of which can be at the expense of the accused. Thanks to the internet, blogs and twitter comment some are considered guilty long before a trial even starts, this must have a knock on effect when 15 ordinary men and women are expecting to only consider the evidence before them.

    Trial by media strikes at the heart of a jury’s impartiality yet it seems the courts are unwilling to take the view that it is impossible for a trial to proceed because of prejudicial reporting preferring to issue standard instructions to jurors.

    Televised proceedings

    I believe the introduction of cameras in court is long overdue, if properly controlled the outcome will be an increase in public confidence in the justice system.

    There is a natural conservatism amongst practitioners in the courts as to the proposal, however the argument is that television will make the public gallery open to all is a valid one.

    The importance of public scrutiny stated by Master of the Rolls, Lord Woolf could equally apply to the use of cameras in court. 

    “First it is my view that taking evidence from witnesses out of the glare of public scrutiny in fact allows such witnesses to embellish their testimony rather than be a more adhering to the unvarnished truth. It is often an opportunity to cast blame on others. Second far from the distractions of intensive media interests yielding a far greater depth of information my view is quite the contrary. 

    The media welcome the opportunity to report public inquiries and in the whole, act responsibly by contrast, the media resents being shut out of a public inquiry conducted behind closed doors.

    They will endeavour to obtain information from those who have been present at the hearing. At the Kimberly Carlisle Inquiry, wholly inaccurate reports appeared as leaks in the press. This militates against an orderly inquiry.

    However the Master of the Rolls Lord Woolf also pointed out why courts nearly always sit in public. It is important not to forget why proceedings are required to be subjected to the full glare of a public hearing. It is necessary because of the public nature of the proceedings deters inappropriate behaviour on the part of the court.

    It also maintains the public’s confidence in the administration of justice. It enables the public to know that justice is being administered impartially. It can result in evidence becoming available which would not become available if the proceedings are conducted behind closed doors or with one or more of the parties or witnesses identity concealed. It makes uniformed and inaccurate comment about the proceedings less likely”.[2]

    Whilst I am supportive of the use of cameras there must be strict limitations on what can be shown for obvious reasons. The experience of the Supreme Court and live streaming has garnered significant support for the introduction of cameras into all criminal trials. However the presence of cameras at an appeal stage is unlikely to interfere with the course of justice, nor impact on the accused or how a witness gives his evidence.

    The media argue that cameras will enhance public understanding of the courts and allow everyone to see justice being done. I remain suspicious of such a generalised approach.From my experience of ‘high profile’ trials I am conscious that the print and TV media are driven by resource issues. It is impossible for them to remain in court throughout the whole day for proceedings and therefore the entire trial.

    The result is journalists will have a tendency to pick the most ‘meaty’ items of the day to report on, and the two minute sound bite will appear in the News usually weighted in favour of the Crown and unable to do justice to what a jury has sat through over that day or the course of several weeks.

    How exactly is the introduction of TV cameras into a court room expected to be any different? There is unlikely to be a massive increase in resources for the media in the present financial climate, which means the cases of choice will be those that cause significant public disquiet or are salacious in their nature.

    Whilst the media is used to highlighting public dissatisfaction with the judicial process to argue for cameras they fail to look at their own role in perpetuating such dissatisfaction.

    Without sufficient safeguards it is inevitable that there would a trivialising and sensationalising of the court trials in the same way that the OJ Simpson made a mockery of the law in the US. It is of significance that there has been a reduction of televised proceedings in the US since that trial, but their system of justice did not collapse as a result of cameras.

    However we should tread extremely carefully in opening the ‘floodgates’ and allowing a ‘Hollywoodisation’ of our courts. What the media fail to understand when proposing opening the public gallery via TV, is that when the general public visit the High Court, the first thing that strikes them is the gravitas of the proceedings and how respectful and formal it is- it is impossible to replicate that for television and there is a danger that the proceedings will simply become ‘entertainment’ rather than a court case that impacts on the victim, the accused and wider society.

    Unless safeguards are introduced as to the use of cameras then it is more than likely that they will merely serve their sound-bite culture. Imagine being accused of the repeated historic rape, where the allegations made by the victim’s mother are recorded. It is likely that they will be emphasised and available for ever to be replayed. But if you were subsequently found not guilty, how does one go about erasing such quotes or images? It is an impossible task and does not serve the administration of justice well.

    As stated above it is unlikely that the media will guarantee that every step of the trial will be filmed.

    There is also much rehearsed argument that cameras in the court will encourage efficiency and raise standards expected, drawing a parallel with Televising of Parliament.

    This is a false analogy, unlike Parliament the courts are not dictated to by public opinion or personal party interests but it is the rule of law that should apply. Public outrage over certain cases should not translate into pressure on judges and lawyers in doing what is already an extremely difficult job.

    Giving evidence during trial or being an accused can be extremely difficult and emotional, it is unlikely that exposing that process to millions of people on TV is likely to assist or encourage others to come forward. Whether one is a victim or an accused, the revealing of personal details can radically change one’s life for ever, but transfer that to TV and it has the potential to destroy those lives.

    Any proposals to implement cameras in courts claims that Jurors will remain anonymous, this is welcome, but it does little to tackle how the filming of witnesses will stop them embellishing their evidence or tailoring it, due to the fact that they will be judged by millions watching at home?


     I would like to summarize my thoughts now on both the use of Twitter and of the use of social media in general.

    During the course of the Sheridan trial Twitter was used for the very first time in a Scottish High Court Trial. There was the inevitable excitement that followed such a decision as the assembled media pack awaited the verdict. I for one can see no problem with journalists making use of social media to give a live feed on cases that are of public interest. There is however a caveat to such an endorsement- as in Televising of proceedings there must be strict guidelines of what can be tweeted and when?

    There is again a natural conservatism when dealing with the use of a social media device such as twitter in the courts. This is even more understandable when one considers that potentially 80% of the profession are simply unaware of what it involves.

    However the education of the profession as to the merits of Twitter is really a matter for them rather than the administration of justice. The concerns I have are as follows:


    i)             How can the maximum use of 140 characters per post being transmitted as a live feed ever do justice to what is said in court? It is simply impossible to even take two sentences from a witnesses answer to a question and relay them to twitter without summarising the content as well forming a judgement on what are the most important aspects of that reply.


    ii)            The next issue that would arise is that how would one ensure that once this material has reached Twitter, it is not re tweeted, quoted out of context and subjected to others providing an opinion on its content. To allow this to happen would during an on-going trial would be in itself a contempt of court and has not really been considered.


    iii)           Whilst Journalists would be responsible for transmitting ‘fair and accurate’ material, it is inevitable that use of this form of social media will invite opinions warranted or not. Such opinions are unacceptable under the Contempt of Court Act and I suspect that the media has failed to assess who will be held liable in the event of a full blown discussion taking place as the result of a journalist tweeting material from a trial?


    iv)           An even more pressing concern is that at the moment those who are due to give evidence are not unless they are expert witnesses allowed to come into the court room and hear what others have said before them. Those witnesses may well be controversial or significantly contradict the evidence of the next witness. There is an inherent danger that if live feed is introduced by means of twitter that all a potential witness could ‘overtly’ or ‘inadvertently’ read what is said on Twitter and tailor their evidence to fit with what is described on twitter. Again there appears to be no recognition of this is the headlong rush for use of Twitter in the courts.


    v)            During the course of a trial day material may emerge which subsequently will mean that a reporting order is issued, however can this be reconciled with if it has already been tweeted on earlier on in the day?


    vi)           The advantage of twitter is that it is instant and user friendly. It has 500 million users worldwide, generates 1.6 billion search engine queries per day and is described as ‘the SMS of the internet’, but from that one can see the dangers inherent in such a device that where a mistake is posted, it is simply too late to remove.


    vii)         The final point I would raise on the use of Twitter is who is actually allowed to engage in its use during proceedings. The concern here is that many eminent bloggers and internet journalist consider themselves legitimate parties in the reporting of news as it happens. The concern is that such parties without sufficient guidelines and legal training may find themselves prejudicing trials as well as interfering with the administration of justice.

    In relation to the use of Twitter I believe that because of its format and inability to control opinion and commentary that arises out of posting 140 characters, it should be stringently controlled and available only for verdict and sentencing procedures.

    There should continue to be strict guidelines issued following an application being made at specific trials for the use of such a format and not an absolute agreement to allow its use in all trials as took place in England and Wales.

    If this is not done then we risk opening the ‘floodgates’ and allowing trials to be deserted because of the prejudicial reporting and subsequent opinion formed as a result of 140 characters.

    Yet the most important reason for limited use of the camera in the courtroom and the use of twitter and other social media tools during live trial reflect around the symbolism of the Courts.

    First, due the nature of the structure of the Courtroom, TV would likely be available in every court in the country, especially criminal cases. When you have television in some, not all, criminal cases, there are risks.

    The risks are that the witness AND the accused is hesitant to say exactly what he or she thinks because he or she knows “the neighbours are watching”. The risk might be with some jurors that they are afraid that they will be identified on television and thus could become the victims of a crime.

    There are risks involving what the solicitor or the QC might or might not be thinking. Is he influenced by that television camera and the manner in which he delivers it when he decides what evidence to present?

    The other issue is that in my experience, crown witnesses give evidence in perfect sound-bite form. A good defence is a slow, methodical deconstruction of that witness or the crown’s case, and rarely leads to a sound-bite. If this is the case, then there will be a significant imbalance in the accused’s right to fair and impartial trial.

    Whilst cameras should be allowed into court in limited circumstances, we have to ensure that there are sufficient safeguards to protect the accused, victims, witnesses and jurors and that filming is a controlled manner and does not interfere with the course of justice. Ultimately the trial judge should have the right to veto such proceedings.

    There is a danger that in the case of High Profile trials that cameras could succeed in trivialising the proceedings and whilst the debate has purely focused on the rights of victims, nobody has answered the question as to why an accused who is ultimately acquitted should have his trial shown on television. In the days of YouTube, an ‘innocent’ accused could have his testimony essentially replayed for eternity haunting him for his lifetime. That of course is an argument that many can relate to, but what about where the accused is found guilty? Again YouTube ensures his testimony for an eternity, potentially damaging any rehabilitation. Despite ‘vigilante justice’ incited by some sections of our media, imprisonment remains the ultimate sanction.

    The problem with televising of certain trials is that many offenders are vulnerable on entering the prison system and could endanger co-accused who co-operate with the police and/or the Crown. Some could be killed simply because of a television report. Whilst there are those that believe that is the price they must pay for their heinous crimes, I do not believe we should encourage ‘mob justice’ in a democracy and have a duty to protect the guilty as well as the innocent.


    Aamer Anwar

    1 October 2012


    [1] Worm v Austria  (1997) 25 EHRR 454

    [2] Lord Woolf MR in R v Legal Aid Board ex Parte Todner [1999] QB 966 at 977


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