Court Proceedings: Media Reports

The Secretary of State Was Asked – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th March 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale Conservative, Maldon 12:00 am, 7th March 2017

What recent assessment she has made of the extent to which local media report on court proceedings.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

We are committed to upholding and strengthening the principle of open justice, in which local reporters play an important role.

Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale Conservative, Maldon

Does my right hon. and learned Friend share my concern that more than half of local newspaper editors have said that they think the courts are no longer being reported properly? Does he agree that justice needs not only to be done but to be seen to be done, and that the decline of local media represents a real threat to that principle? What more can be done to address this issue?

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

Yes, I agree entirely with my right hon. Friend. This is an important area. We are committed to upholding open justice, and local reporting of court proceedings is a key part of that. Under our reforms, we will publish lists of forthcoming criminal cases and their outcomes. We will also allow access to virtual hearings via video screens in local courts, so that reporters can see those proceedings anywhere in the country. We hope that that will make a contribution to the important principle that my right hon. Friend highlights

Photo of Ian Lucas Ian Lucas Labour, Wrexham

Does the Minister support the BBC’s proposals to work with local newspapers and local websites such as the excellent Wrexham.com to improve the coverage of court proceedings and local coverage generally?

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

In fact, my right hon. Friend Mr Whittingdale was the initiator of that scheme, which we do support.