“The simple answer is to allow tape recorders for all: no party is disadvantaged and an â€˜officialâ€™ recording is there for checking. This is how it works in other countries. But that is to ignore the root objection of the courts: that they are losing control of how court proceedings are presented to the public.
The courtsâ€™ refusal to allow people to tape-record benefits a few private transcription companies whom the court approves in cosy deals. These people have exclusive rights to tape- record or listen to official recordings and then transcribe them. The cost to the individual of hiring them is aboutÂ£150-Â£250 per hour of typing.
Many trials in the upper courts are now officially recorded, yet these records are not accessible to the public. All High Court hearings have been digitally recorded since February 2010. When I spoke to the courtâ€™s governance officer he told me there were no plans to make these accessible directly to the public. Why not?
(Ironically, I think this Heather Brooke article has been pasted in from the Times, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to link to it. This is ironic, as I say, because Heather Brooke has today backed the Times’ paywall as the only adequate response to the need to compensate journalists).
(Irony update: Actually, Heather’s posted this entire article on her blog. Which makes her point about the paywall doubly confusing…)