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Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

Closing courts will stop justice from being seen to be done

Closing courts will stop justice from being seen to be done


RELEASE DATE: 6 June 2013

[frame align=”right”]CIoJ logo [/frame]Local journalists will struggle to cover courts if the Scottish Government’s proposals to close ten sheriff courts and seven justice of the peace courts goes ahead, claims the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ).

The CIoJ has written to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to point out its members, and as a consequence the general public, will be adversely affected by the plans and it will seriously impact on the centuries-established principle that justice has to be seen to be done.

Journalist Campbell Thomas, Scottish representative for CIoJ’s Professional Practices Board, said: “The very principle of law is that justice should be seen to be done. How can this continue when citizens will no longer be able to see what happens with a crime in their town? Local newspapers simply can’t afford the luxury of sending journalists to cover stories miles away because of the time and the traveling costs.

“The annual savings of £1m the Scottish Court Service says can be made from these closures cannot be compared with the human cost that the consequences will bring.”

The plan also restricts high court sittings to designated courthouses and the high courts at Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

He added: “Taking perpetrators away from the places and people where their crime was committed does not help anyone to come to terms with the impact of their wrong-doing in that community. This is especially so if reporting of the trial outcome does not reach that community.

“We are urging the Scottish Government to think again, as the role of local news is fundamental to the community perception of fairness in the justice system in Scotland.”