This is something that's been welcomed by Willie Rennie, who said:
“By televising this, people like Gilroy, who have been found guilty of such a shocking crime, will face a day of reckoning. The public will be able to see justice being done.”I kind of see his point, but I also feel very uneasy about it and I'm not sure why.
We would know what the Judge said to him, because it would be reported verbatim in the press, immediately, so there is already that element of transparency there.
I guess to see Lord Bracadale actually saying the words would make it a lot more real, but it seems a bit intrusive, nonetheless. He will doubtless outline to Gilroy the heinousness of his crime, exacerbated by his refusal to say where he buried Suzanne before telling him how long he'll serve. I'm not sure how Suzanne's friends and family would feel about that, though, and what would happen in future cases. Every case is different and every family reacts in a different way.
I was wondering if I was just being a luddite and I've always been caustic about establishment types who complained about the televising, or You Tubing, of Parliamentary proceedings. I certainly wouldn't want to count myself in with the people who objected to the Queen's coronation being televised because men would watch it in public houses with their hats on. This is different, though. Every single crime has a very personal consequence for somebody. In this case it involves bereavement and loss and the ending of a young life. A national celebration, or a Parliamentary Debate are not the same thing.
I know that the camera will only show the Judge's face and not the accused, or the public. Is this the start of a slippery slope which will end up with Scottish Courts being televised like American ones where murder cases are dramatically sensationalised? I'm not so sure it's that healthy to watch a murder trial on tv like the OJ Simpson trial, just to see what happens. It feels disrespectful to the victims and I think some distance is warranted. Also, I don't think I'd really want to see somebody in great distress giving evidence about a crime they'd witnessed or experienced.
Maybe my unease is partly because the justice system does have to stay extremely rational to work. Bringing emotion into it with tv cameras brings inconsistency which could render it unjust.
I certainly don't think that this development is the end of the world and I know that we are relatively unusual in having such wide ranging reporting restrictions on court cases. Compare and contrast with Italy, though, where Amanda Knox was made out pretty much to be the bride of Satan ahead of her trial. How do you find an unbiased jury in these circumstances?
I may be conflating different issues here, but I just don't think that this is something we should necessarily welcome with open arms. For a justice system to work, people need to have confidence in it. I'm not sure that filming a judge give a sentence actually adds to that when we can all read his judgement in full when it's released.