It is a central principle of criminal justice that the court sits in public so that the proceedings can be observed by members of the public and reported on by the media. Transparency improves the quality of justice, enhances public understanding of the process, and bolsters public confidence in the justice system. Media reporting is critical to all these public interest functions. There are occasions, however when it is necessary to make an exception to these principles, to protect the rights of children or the identities of some adult complainants for example. Such issues often arise at short notice and the law relating to the decisions that have to be made can be complex.
This Fifth Edition of the guidance updates the previous version, issued in September 2022, and in particular reflects the new Criminal Practice Directions 2023, which came into force on 29 May 2023. It aims to distil and explain the relevant legal provisions and principles so they are clearly understood and properly applied in practice. It is available on the judiciary’s website and on the websites of the Society of Editors and the News Media Association the Media Lawyers Association.
I am grateful to Guy Vassall-Adams KC, Tim James-Matthews of Counsel and to the judicial and academic editors for their contributions to this important Guidance.
The Rt Hon the Lord Burnett of Maldon
Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales