A number of readers have asked us what has happened about the much discussed filming of Supreme Court proceedings.   As Chief Executive Jenny Rowe pointed out in a speech in September, it is “technically and legally possible for proceedings in the Supreme Court to be filmed and broadcast”.  The court rooms are each equipped with four cameras and proceedings are routinely filmed.   But, strangely, very little of this footage has been broadcast.  The only material we have been able to find comes from news reports on the first hearing, in particular a 38 minute clip on US public service channel C-Span (pictured right). There was also some film of the opening ceremony on 16 October, which we reported here.  Since then we have seen nothing. 

This is particularly surprising in view of the massive international public interest in the JFS appeal in October.  We understand that a request was made for film of  this hearing but, as far as we are aware, none was ever shown.  Parliament TV obviously no longer shows anything to do with the Supreme Court.   The BBC’s excellent “Democracy Live” website has everything from BBC Parliament – and is searchable too (see, for example, a search on references to the Supreme Court in both Houses and Select Committees).   But, as far as we are aware, it does not show footage of the Supreme Court.

Tomorrow, the Court gives its most eagerly awaited judgment so far – in the OFT bank charges case.  We would expect the broadcasters to show the formal handing down of judgment but this is no substitute for footage of a full hearing (the OFT case is not available of course because it was heard in the House of Lords Committee Room last term and so was not filmed). 

Ideally we would like to see live webcasts of the hearings but, as a first step, the footage that has been taken should be broadcast.  We hope that broadcasters will rise to the challenge and start asking for (and showing) hearings before the Court.  This is too good a resource for the profession and the public to remain stored in a Guildhall cupboard.  The twentieth anniversay of the televising of Parliament is a reminder of how important television now is to public understanding of our institutions.  The Supreme Court has taken the vital first step by recording what takes place but it must now facilitate the broadcast of what has been recorded.