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Court Proceedings: Proportion Covered by Court Reporters

The Secretary of State was asked – in the House of Commons on 14th January 2020.

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Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale Conservative, Maldon

What recent estimate he has made of the proportion of court proceedings covered by court reporters.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Minister of State (London)

We at the Ministry of Justice do not track or hold data on the number of reporters who report on court proceedings, but I am sad to say that anecdotal evidence suggests that in line with the general decline in local reporting, the reporting of local courts will have declined as well. When my right hon. Friend was Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, he was instrumental in making sure, at the BBC’s charter renewal, that the local democracy reporting scheme provided £8 million a year to get local reporters into the courts. I congratulate him on that step and hope that there is more we can do along those lines in future.

Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale Conservative, Maldon

I thank my hon. Friend, and I thank the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, my hon. and learned Friend Lucy Frazer, for the work that she has done in this area. Does he share my view of how important it is that court proceedings are properly reported by trained journalists so that justice can be seen to be done? Will he continue to work with the Society of Editors, the News Media Association and others to see what further measures can be taken to achieve that?

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Minister of State (London)

I strongly concur and can certainly give my right hon. Friend the commitment he asks for. Certainly from the perspective of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service, staff are given training to facilitate access by journalists, and the Ministry is currently giving very active and relatively imminent consideration to ways of making sure that court decisions and proceedings are brought more directly to the public.