Principle of open justice upheld


Re: Re Guardian News & Media Ltd [2016] EWCA Crim 58

The case concerned the media’s access to CCTV footage shown to the jury in the case of R v Kingshott. The media made a formal application to access the footage under CPR 5.8(7) and the common law principle of open justice however this was rejected on the basis that the risk of prejudice to the trial outweighed the open justice principle. The media appealed under the Criminal Justice Act 1988, s 159.

The Court held that s 159 conferred a right of appeal in any order restricting the publication of any report of the whole or any part of a trial on indictment, which covered a decision to refuse access to material referred to in open court. It affirmed the importance of open justice. Also, the Court highlighted that the footage had be extensively considered in open court and so the “focusing effect” of listening to evidence was a safeguard to the jury being swayed. Similarly, there was no evidence that the footage would go viral due to social media, and so the Court stated that this was a speculative risk. The Court allowed the appeal, however the reporting of the judgment was restricted until the verdicts in the cases concerned were returned.

Guy Vassall-Adams QC was involved in this case.