UK & World News

  • 31 October 2013, 23:04

First Televised Court Hearing Makes History

The Prime Minister's brother has become the first barrister to be shown arguing a case in the Court of Appeal.

Alexander Cameron QC was applying to have his client's sentence reduced, but his request was rejected by judges on the first day that cameras were permitted to film proceedings in the court.

The legal arguments between the barrister and the three judges lasted for almost an hour, providing the public with an insight into how the court works.

Convicted counterfeiter Kevin Fisher - the ringleader of a three-man gang that created hundreds of thousands of fake 1 coins - had applied for leave to appeal against his sentence of seven years.

He was not in court, but if he had access to a television or computer in prison he will have heard lengthy reasons from Lord Justice Pitchford why he was not going to be released early.

The significance of the case did not merit coverage - though the original Crown Court verdict was reported in many newspapers at the time.

But it was selected by Sky News, the BBC, ITN and the Press Association as a typical and straightforward appeal which was taking place on the first day cameras were allowed into court.

Asked how he felt about being the first barrister to appear on camera at the Court of Appeal, Mr Cameron said: "It's surprising."

He added: "I only found out yesterday it was happening."

Among those watching was the Prime Minister, who watched on his smartphone while travelling by train.

He said: "I couldn't help notice that the barrister in the case was actually my brother which was a surprise to me this morning as I think it was a surprise to him.

"My reflection on that is that the noise and the atmosphere in the Court of Appeal is rather different to the noise and the atmosphere in the House of Commons for Prime Minister's Question Time.

"It's very quiet, it's very ordered, it's very reasonable. So I said to my brother perhaps he would like to do a job swap for a day."

Broadcasters have hired a video-journalist who will recommend which are the most interesting cases on a daily basis.

He will place four remotely-controlled cameras in the courtroom before the case begins.

But only the judges and lawyers arguing the case are allowed to be shown.

The broadcast feed can be censored by muting sound or cutting the video at the direction of the judges, and there is a 70-second delay built into the feed to allow for contentious material to be removed.