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Should the courts be televised?

Posted by: Laurence Simons 26/02/13

Andy Warhol's famous prediction that one day everyone would be famous for 15 minutes has come true so emphatically that it has become a cliché, with television producers making dairy farmers, people from Newcastle, police officers and more the stars of their own reality shows for the dubious edification of the viewing public.

While one would hope that members of the UK's august, refined legal profession would be above such footling concerns as momentary televisual fame, criminal justice minister Damian Green has his doubts.

He told the Telegraph that there are fears televising the proceedings of the court would lead to lawyers and others in the courtroom to play to the camera, potentially leading Britain into similar territory to the US, where shows like Judge Judy turn the courtroom into a quasi-entertainment complex.

"There are people who don't want to end up with an American system where you have celebrity lawyers and so on," Mr Green explained.

While this will be disappointing news for legal professionals keen to practice their dramatic table-thumping or show off their flamboyant new Armani duds, the criminal justice minister stressed that there will still be major changes made to the outmoded aspects of the system over the coming years.

He pledged to reduce the "shocking and unforgivable" delays in the justice system, which he claimed have been causing an increase in crime throughout the UK.

However, John Fassenfelt, chairman of the Magistrates' Association, suggested that the funding situation means it is impossible for Britain to have a Rolls Royce justice system, meaning it must make do with a cheap Ford Escort instead. We can only hope that, whatever the vehicle being used, the wheels remain firmly in place.