The price of justice
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?