Wednesday 29 January 2020

Lack of access to court material is just absurd

In an ever more digital age, it is absurd that access to CCTV and recordings of Garda interviews could be practically non-existent in criminal trials. (stock photo)
In an ever more digital age, it is absurd that access to CCTV and recordings of Garda interviews could be practically non-existent in criminal trials. (stock photo)
Editorial

Editorial

The media, as is often noted, lives by disclosure. And for all its perceived flaws, it is still a mirror that ought to reflect society and serve the needs of the public by providing accurate information.

That is why the appeal for better access to material in our courts must be listened to.

Yet last night, the NewsBrands Ireland 'Open Justice' Conference heard how we have fallen off the pace here concerning access by the public and the media to court submissions.

In Ireland - with the exception of the Supreme Court - we have no guidelines for access to written legal submissions. Thus the public could be precluded from access to documents in legal proceedings.

In an ever more digital age, it is absurd that access to CCTV and recordings of Garda interviews could be practically non-existent in criminal trials.

The case was forcefully made by John Battle, a leading British media lawyer, who pointed out to the conference that in both England and Wales - where a defined protocol for access to court documents, CCTV and police interviews exists - trials have not been affected and the public has benefited considerably.

Anything that helps to guarantee fair and accurate reporting can only be seen as positive, and can hardly be regarded as a threat to anyone's interest.

Irish Independent

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