The price of jus­tice

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - YOUR VIEWS -

Jus­tice should not just be done it must be seen to be done. That’s a cliche that has been trot­ted out by many a jour­nal­ist, in­clud­ing my­self, when peo- ple, in­vari­ably crim­i­nals, com­plain about their name and their bad be­hav­iour be- ing pub­li­cised in the news­pa­per.

The phrase ac­tu­ally orig­i­nates from a case in 1924 which had noth­ing to do with the re­port­ing of the courts.

But open jus­tice is some­thing most peo­ple be­lieve in and a key part of that is the re­port­ing of cases up and down the land by the lo­cal me­dia.

Re­cently, at the be­gin­ning of pro­ceed­ings of an im­por­tant and high pro­file Peter­bor­ough case, the judge went out of his way to say the trial should be heard in the city.

My PT col­league Stephen Briggs is a vasty ex­pe­ri­enced court re­porter and these days of­ten cuts a lonely fig­ure on the press bench in Peter­bor­ough’s mag­is­trates and crown courts.

His role re­port­ing on some of the most im­por­tant cases in the city has be­come in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult.

The lat­est ob­sta­cle to lo­cal open jus­tice is that more and more Peter­bor­ough cases are be­ing heard out­side the city, usu­ally in Cam- bridge, and vice versa.

The rea­son, pre­sum­ably, is that it is more fi­nan­cially ef­fi­cient– Cam­bridge Mag­is­trates Court re­cently es­caped by the skin of its teeth from be­ing closed for good.

The Min­istry Of Jus­tice has been at­tempt­ing to save £1bil­lion and court clo­sures is one of its op­tions.

But that comes at a heavy cost to the com­mu­nity, den­ny­ing it the chance to see that jus­tice is be­ing done lo­cally.

Peter­bor­ough cases should be heard in Peter­bor­ough. It might save a few bob to do oth­er­wise, but would it be worth it?

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