Friday, 23 December 2011


For years it has been illegal to carry a camera into a Scottish courtroom. I remember this from back in the day when I was a press photographer. I used to have to leave the kit in the car and come rushing out just before the end of proceedings to take my photos as the people emerged onto the street. That was allowed - but I had to wait until they were actually off courthouse property. Now, I ask you - what on earth is the difference between taking the photos of the accused/convicted inside or outside the courthouse? Thankfully, these days a glimmer of good sense has prevailed and they are currently considering permitting the televising of court cases. But we have the old problem, that because the status quo is what we've been used to, they they find it nigh on impossible to get out of it - even though they don't know why.

I don't mind telling you - I hate censorship. To quickly define censorship in my own words: censorship is when an individual or group decides that they know best, and deliberately withholds the truth from others.

On the one hand, in this country we have a public gallery in every courtroom and the general public are welcome to come in and spectate if they wish. Also the names of the accused/convicted are available in the media. On the other hand, no cameras are allowed, so, of course, viewing proceedings on the TV is out of the question.

In America and other countries it is common practice to televise court cases. In America we had the famous trial of O.J. Simpson all over the TV. In Inverness the trial of two ordinary young men is held in private. 'Private' though, is not the right word, they should use 'secret'.

Why hold it in private - who or what are they trying to protect?

We criticise other countries for doing things in secret, and rightly so - particularly if elections are not held openly and fairly, or if we think they might be making nuclear weapons. We send inspectors to check on them because we don't trust them. We ought to preach by example, and allow justice to be 'seen' to be done as it ought to be - and not be hypocrites.

I much prefer the Biblical method: "...PROVIDE THINGS HONEST IN THE SIGHT OF ALL MEN." (Romans 12: 17); THEM THAT SIN REBUKE BEFORE ALL, THAT OTHERS ALSO MAY FEAR. (1 Timothy 5: 20).

Every detail of the trial of Liam Aitchison's murderers should be completely open for all to see - and televised - it's everyone's right. We all have an interest.

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