HC Deb 22 June 1981 vol 7 cc19-20
42. Mr. Canavan

asked the Attorney-General what facilities exist for journalists who wish to attend trials.

The Attorney-General

It is the normal practice to provide seats for the press within existing courtrooms. Where press boxes are not avilable seats are reserved in the public area. Specialised accommodation and facilities are provided as part of the standard design in all new Crown court buildings.

Mr. Canavan

Is there not a case for banning journalists from certain newspapers which have done shabby deals in cheque-book journalism by offering money to witnesses and even relatives of the accused? Will the Attorney-General try not to be too influenced by recent reports that one on the worst offenders in this respects seems to be the Daily Mail, the gutter journalism of which helped to get the Tory Government elected?

The Attorney-General

I am not sure whether that sort of comment is fair or helpful. We have always taken the view that the judge has complete control over his court and that it is a matter for him to decide who should be allowed into court. That view has been held for a long time. In a recent case a photograph was taken in court. The presiding judge banned any representatives of the Quick magazine after it was discovered that it had broken the law.

Mr. John Morris

In view of the wide reporting by journalists of the part played by Dr. Clift in a recent appeal, does the Attorney-General intend to consult the Home Secretary on what might be done in other cases in which Cr. Clift has given evidence?

The Attorney-General

That must be a matter entirely for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

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