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Media Guidance for the Judiciary 
Including courts and tribunal judges, non-legal 
members in tribunals and magistrates 
March 
2012 

Media guidance for the judiciary 
Approved by the Judicial Executive Board, February 2012 
To be reviewed February 2013 


Media guidance for the judiciary 
Key contacts 
Key contacts 
Judicial Press Office 
Main no. for media enquiries 
020 7073 4852 
Stephen Ward 
020 7947 6438 
Head of News 
[email address] 
Rachael Collins 
020 7947 6490 
Senior Press Officer 
[email address] 
Michael Duncan 
020 7947 7836 
Senior Press Officer 
[email address] 
General email: 
[email address] 
Fax: 
020 7947 6544 
Out of hours duty pager (24/7) 
07659 550652 


Media guidance for the judiciary 
Contents 
Contents 
Preface by the Lord Chief Justice and Senior 
iii 
President of Tribunals 
Introduction 

Judicial Press Office & other resources 

In the Courts/Tribunals 

Misreporting 

Dealing with exceptional cases 

Reporting restrictions 

Filming/photography/recording in courts and 

tribunals 
Out of Court/Tribunals 
11 
Doorstepping 
11 
Interviews 
13 
Speeches; Letters to newspapers;  Parliamentary Select 
14 
Committees 
Libel 
15 
Useful links 
16 




Media guidance for the judiciary 
Preface 
Preface 
Preface by the Lord Chief Justice and Senior President of Tribunals 
This revised edition of the Media Guide provides 
equally responsibilities on the media to report these 
practical advice and details of the support and advice 
proceedings fairly and accurately. 
available from Judicial Press Office, with their contact 
details. 
Judicial office-holders should exercise their freedom 
to talk to the media with the greatest circumspection. 
This guidance is for all judicial office-holders in 
As Lord Bingham has commented,‘a habit of 
England and Wales, and tribunals judiciary within the 
reticence makes for good judges’. A judicial office­
remit of the Senior President in Scotland and 
holder should refrain from answering public criticism 
Northern Ireland. 
of a judgment or decision, whether from the bench 
or otherwise.They should not air disagreements over 
We urge you that should you find yourself in the 
judicial decisions in the press. In his speech in the 
media spotlight, which can be an uncomfortable 
House of Lords on 21 May 2003, Lord Woolf CJ 
experience, you take full advantage of their 
referred to "the very important convention that 
professional expertise. 
judges do not discuss individual cases". 
There are responsibilities on the judiciary to allow 
We are sure you will find this Guide of practical 
media access to proceedings wherever possible and 
assistance and we commend it to you. 
Rt Hon Lord Judge 
Rt Hon Sir Robert Carnwath
Lord Chief Justice 
Senior President of Tribunals  
iii 

Media guidance for the judiciary 
Introduction 
Introduction  
Public scrutiny of the justice system continues to 
While Lord Mackay made it clear that judges: 
grow.The introduction of 24 hour news channels, 
rolling news web editions of the print media and 
“must avoid public statements either on general 
social media have all contributed to the trend. 
issues or particular cases which might cast any 
doubt on their complete impartiality, and above all, 

This has resulted in ever more requests for judicial 
they should avoid any involvement, either direct or 
office holders to appear on television and radio 
indirect, in issues which are or might become 
programmes or to give interviews to the press.There 
politically controversial”, 
has also been a proliferation of subjective media 
comment, including editorials and opinion columns 
(and by no means confined to the national press) 
he felt that there were cases in which the media 
about individual judges and cases, but also about the 
might: 
judiciary generally. 
“in a spirit of enquiry, wish to explore matters 
As the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, told the House 
affecting the legal system so as to secure a wider 
of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution on 
public understanding of the working of the law, 
15th December 2010: 
and that the value of such programmes may be 
enhanced by the participation of judges”. 

“The relationship between the judiciary and the media 
is very interesting. I think that judges have to face the 

Before the Constitutional Reform Act changes, the 
fact that they live in a very fast-moving information 
Lord Chief Justice and other senior judges could 
world and that what judges do is a matter of public 
speak out in the House of Lords, on behalf of the 
interest, and sometimes concern. Judges have to realise 
judiciary, on matters affecting the administration of 
that where there is concern, it needs to be thought 
justice, such as mandatory life sentences for murder. 
about……….What I am really driving at is that in 
2010 there has to be a different attitude by judges to 

During the 1996 debate on public controversy and 
the newspapers and the media and by the media and 
the judiciary in the House of Lords, Lord Irvine, 
newspapers to judges.” 
then-shadow Lord Chancellor, said: 
“There is a distinction between judicial 
In 1989 the then Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay, 
participation in public controversy of a political 
issued guidance to judges on how to address media 
nature and the judges’ participation in public 
interest in their work in the form of a letter to the 
controversy concerning the effective administration 
Lord Chief Justice.The principles in it apply equally 
of justice ..... I think that judges would be wise to 
to the magistracy and tribunals judiciary.This stressed 
confine themselves to controversy about the 
that it should be left to judges themselves to decide 
administration of justice. If they engage more 
whether, and on what conditions, they should give 
extensively in political controversy, they risk 
interviews to journalists or appear on radio or 
undermining public confidence in their political 
television.The tenets of his letter still hold true. 
impartiality.” 


Introduction 
Media guidance for the judiciary 
Later that year, shortly after his appointment as Lord 
Ministers …as a good relationship with the 
Chief Justice, Lord Bingham of Cornhill echoed this 
possibility to provide assistance where it is 
sentiment when he said: 
appropriate. Where it is appropriate is if the 
Government are considering legislation and want 

“I think it is absolutely fundamental that judges 
to know, for instance, what implications the 
should be very careful indeed to make sure that 
legislation might have for judicial resources.  In 
they do not publicly make statements that 
that kind of area, I should be very keen to advise.” 
undermine their reputation for impartiality and 
neutrality.” 

In giving evidence to the House of Lords’ 
Constitution Committee in 2010, the current Lord 
Following the Constitutional Reform Act changes, 
Chief Justice, Lord Judge, said: 
the Lord Chief Justice as head of the judiciary has 
assumed the mantle of representing judicial concerns 
“We have to be very careful not to be seen to be entering 
and interests on the national stage. The Tribunals, 
into the political arena, so that if a proposal is—if I may 
Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 conferred the 
put it this way—party-political in the sense that there 
same responsibilities in respect of tribunals judiciary 
appears to be a political divide between the Government 
on the Senior President. 
and the Opposition, we have to be extremely careful and 
tactful about it, but where there is a consultation paper, 

At a media briefing in October 2005 the then Lord 
there is absolutely no reason why we should not respond 
Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, summarised this role in 
to it. … We have to be very careful that judges cannot 
the new constitutional landscape: 
get mixed up in the political process and, more 
importantly, be seen to have got mixed up in the 

“I have made it plain that it is no part of my job 
political process.” 
as a serving judge to comment on Government 
policy.  I would like to see my relationship with … 



Media guidance for the judiciary 
Judicial Press Office 
Judicial Press Office  
The Judicial Press Office operates a 24 hours a day, 
seven days a week service to help you with urgent 
•   before passing sentence or issuing a decision in 
press matters.  For enquiries, out of normal office 
a controversial case, or in a case where your 
hours, you can contact the duty press officer by 
sentence/decision departs from the norm, you 
calling the duty pager – 07659 550652. 
might consider preparing a written note of 
your sentencing remarks or summary of your 
It is a specialist, dedicated facility to support judicial 
decision to be given by hand to reporters in 
office-holders (magistrates and courts judges in 
court or at the tribunal hearing (see section on 
England and Wales and tribunal judges and members 
Dealing with exceptional cases).You may also 
across England,Wales and Scotland). 
wish to fax or e-mail these notes to the 
Judicial Press Office for distribution to the 
Based at the Royal Courts of Justice as part of the 
wider media. This will help reporters to quote 
Judicial Office, the Judicial Press Office works directly 
you accurately 
to the Lord Chief Justice and Senior President of 
Tribunals and is independent of the Ministry of 
Justice and HM Courts and Tribunal Service. 
•   they can distribute important speeches to the 
media, or issue statements - always making it 
It provides advice and support to judicial office­
clear that this is being done on behalf of the 
holders on interview bids, misreporting, the handling 
individual judge.They can also place important 
of potentially controversial issues, and any other 
speeches on the judicial website 
media issues. 
Operating a 24/7 service so it can respond to media 
•   they let judicial office-holders know about 
interest as it arises, the team also anticipates wherever 
breaking news stories that affect them 
possible high profile and controversial issues and 
individually or collectively. 
prepares statements and responses in advance, 
involving the relevant members of the judiciary. 
What it can’t do 
As appropriate, the Judicial Press Office draws the 
media’s attention to significant judgments, speeches 
•   It will never attempt to interpret a judicial 
and statements, providing written copies when 
decision to a journalist.  When speaking to the 
available. 
media or offering advice to individual judicial 
office-holders, press officers are always careful 
to stress the importance of judicial 
Press Matters - how the Press Office can help 
independence.  Comment on a judicial 
decision would breach this principle, as well as 
JO press officers can assist judges in a number of 
being seen, however wrongly, as tending to 
ways: 
anticipate or prejudice any appeal proceedings 
that may ensue  
•   in instances of misreporting, they can issue a 
statement to the media on your behalf 
correcting errors of fact (see section on 
•   While they understand how hurtful and 
misreporting). 
irritating unfair criticism of, or personal 
comments about,  judicial office-holders can 


Judicial Press Office 
Media guidance for the judiciary 
•   publications – typesetting and arranging the 
printing and publication of judicial and Judicial 
While the Press Office understands how 
Office publications. 
hurtful and irritating unfair criticism of, or 
personal comments about, magistrates and 
•   It also advises other organisations and 
Government departments on the best way to 
judges can be, there is little they can do ­
communicate with the judiciary. The team’s 
except in cases of misreporting or factual 
aims are to make sure that knowledge is 
error. 
transmitted and shared effectively across the 
judiciary and to prevent the judiciary from 
being deluged with communications from all 
sides. 
be, there is little they can do - except in cases 
of misreporting or factual error.  It is for 
judicial office-holders themselves to report 
Standing Committee  on Communications of 
instances of false reporting, unfair criticism or 
the Judges’ Council 
harassment to the Press Complaints 
Commission (PCC) or broadcast organisations 
Advises the Judges’ Council and through them the 
to demand corrections from the media as 
JEB on matters relating to the media and 
appropriate. However, press officers are always 
communications.  Specifically they: 
available to discuss such a course of action and 
offer support and advice. 
•   Consider issues affecting internal and external 
communications, including ensuring 
development of the Communications Strategy 
Corporate Communications Team 
agreed by the Judges’ Council. 
•   Propose strategies for ensuring good internal 
Working alongside the Judicial Press Office is the  
communication across the judiciary, including 
Corporate Communications Team.  
the use and future development of e-
That team is responsible for developing and  
communication systems such as the intranet 
maintaining five main channels of communications:  
and the website. 
•   Consider and propose communication 
•   intranets - the judicial intranet (including 
strategies to help judiciary dealing with the 
managing judicial subscriptions, providing 
media. 
technical support to users and sending out 
regular alerts), the Judicial Office intranet, and 
•   Work with the JCO to develop pro-active 
the Judicial Portal; 
media coverage which broadens public 
understanding of the judiciary. 
•   the judicial business newsletter, Benchmark
•   Support the use of the media trained panel of 
•   websites – including the public-facing 
judges. 
Judiciary of England and Wales website and 
related public-facing sites, such as that for the 
7/7 Inquests; 


Media guidance for the judiciary 
Judicial Press Office 
•   Provide a short report each term to the Judges’ 
membership is regularly reviewed so that its members 
Council and the JEB, about issues the 
can be used effectively. 
committee has considered and action taken. 
“We have a number of judges who are, in effect, media 
trained for the purposes of dealing with criticisms based 
on a failure by the media to appreciate the constraints 

Media Trained Panel of Judges 
under which the judge was working” 
The Media Panel was established in 2008. The panel 
Lord Chief Justice, House of Lords Select 
are judges who have been “media trained” and they 
Committee on the Constitution on 15th 
are well placed to respond to requests from the media 
December 2010 
for information. The role of the panel and its 


In the courts/tribunals 
Media guidance for the judiciary 
In the courts/tribunals  
Misreporting 
Judicial office-holders who are factually misreported 
are sometimes unsure how to redress the situation. 
Suggested courses of action 
Should you need advice the Judicial Press Office can 
assist you, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 
Pre-emptive (see also section on dealing with 
Remember, speed of response is essential. This means 
exceptional cases) 
hours - minutes even - rather than days. The national 
Where your sentence, decision or sentencing remarks 
media might not be at the hearing, but stories by 
are likely to be controversial or high-profile, they 
reporters working for local news agencies can make 
could be misinterpreted or turned into a negative 
national headlines within the hour
story by reporters.You might wish to consider the 
following courses of action: 
If the Judicial Press Office, on your behalf, is going to 
convince news agencies, broadcasters and editors that 
they have got it wrong, it needs documentary 
•   Write out sentencing remarks/decision 
evidence - ideally a transcript or dictated notes. 
summary: you might wish to adjourn the case 
Understandably, the media strongly resist making 
briefly to give yourself time to write out your 
corrections unless they can be shown concrete proof 
sentencing remarks/decision summary. You 
of their mistake. 
should arrange for copies of your remarks to 
be given to HMCTS staff to distribute to 
If you are seriously misreported, it is recommended 
reporters in court, and to fax or email to the 
that you immediately inform your Bench Chair, 
Judicial Press Office (020 7947 6544): in both 
Chamber President, Presiding Judge, the Chief 
cases, immediately after sentence is passed; or 
Magistrate or Head of Division and your court or 
tribunal manager. 
•   Provide a transcript: if it is impracticable to 
adjourn, or to provide written sentencing 
Sometimes the judicial press officers will be first to 
remarks, it might be possible for an HMCTS 
know about a judicial office-holder’s potentially 
official to prepare a typed copy of your 
news-making statement in court, because a reporter 
sentencing remarks as soon as possible after 
will ring them for comment or they will spot a story 
delivery (ideally within 30 minutes).  Copies of 
while monitoring news wires. They will never 
this should be made available to journalists in 
express a view but immediately alert the judicial 
court and a copy faxed or emailed to the 
office-holder or their court manager to the query. 
Judicial Press Office. 
Even if you do not want the Judicial Press Office to 
issue a statement on your behalf, it would appreciate 
In each case, it is recommended you advise reporters 
being advised of the course of action you intend to 
in court or at the tribunal hearing and the Judicial 
take.  It puts them in the picture and helps them to 
Press Office of your intentions.This will help 
deal with the inevitable follow-up media queries 
journalists to report your remarks correctly and in 
(such as interview bids) in a positive way. 
context, and experience shows they will be able to 
concentrate much more on what you are actually 
saying. 


Media guidance for the judiciary 
In the courts/tribunals 
Reactive 
With advance warning and a transcript of the 
sentencing remarks, press officers are well placed to 
If you have been seriously misreported you can ask 
correct any misreporting. They can issue a statement 
the Judicial Press Office to issue a statement to the 
quickly to the Press Association (the major national 
media on your behalf. 
news agency) and national media newsdesks.When 
Such a statement must necessarily keep strictly to 
necessary, the Judicial Press Office can phone news 
factual matters and not contain presumptions, or 
editors or media legal departments to try to correct 
statements that cannot be substantiated. 
inaccuracies. 
Dealing with exceptional cases  
Sometimes it may be appropriate for a judge to issue 
Preparing sentencing remarks/decisions 
a statement supplied to the media by the Press Office 
but normally intended for wider public 
Increasingly the senior judiciary are issuing written 
consumption. 
sentencing remarks/decision summaries.This is 
particularly common and useful in cases that are 
Making planned statements in open court 
likely to be controversial and are high-profile. 
Providing these makes it much more likely that the 
Courts and most tribunals operate in public, and any 
media will report a decision accurately, and that they 
comment made by a judicial office-holder in public 
will use a judicial office-holder’s own language 
session is regarded as open to reporting. This extends 
(normally more measured than the 
to comments made when there’s no reporter in the 
interpretation/selective quoting that can occur). 
room, as long as someone has repeated it to them. 
Similarly some judges have produced summaries of 
Judges may occasionally read out statements in open 
their judgments to assist journalists who increasingly 
court, for example commenting on misreporting of a 
have to report on them almost instantly. 
case.These can be issued to the wider media by the 
Press Office. 
Judicial Press Office staff are very happy to be used as 
sounding boards on drafts, with all sentencing 
In all such circumstances judicial office-holders are 
remarks and judgments being treated in complete 
strongly advised to consult with their Bench Chair, 
confidence. 
Chamber President, Resident Judge, the Chief 
Magistrate and/or Presiding Judge before making a 
Issuing statements to the media 
statement.You may also find it helpful to talk to the 
Judicial Press Office – it will be able to look at a draft 
This is undertaken for judicial office-holders by the 
from a lay perspective, and point out how the media 
Judicial Press Office (see Misreporting, p6). 
might receive or interpret it. 
Occasionally the statement will come from the 
Judicial Press Office or a senior judicial office-holder, 
There is no question of Judicial Press Office staff 
where the aim is to try and depersonalise an issue, 
attempting to tell a judicial office-holder which 
such as when an individual is being fiercely 
words they should be using, but we can provide a 
condemned for in fact making a routine decision to 
sounding board. 
which there is no alternative. 


In the courts/tribunals 
Media guidance for the judiciary 
Reporting restrictions 
A fundamental principle of justice is that it is 
should explain its decision clearly, and ensure the 
conducted in public, and in many cases the media 
order is correctly drawn up and brought to the 
play an important role in reporting proceedings to 
attention of the media. 
the public and representing that public interest. 
Where you have made an anonymity order you 
Of course there are other aspects of justice, for 
should say so and give the reasons in any written 
example family cases, or detention under the Mental 
determination that you hand down. 
Health Act, where the current presumption is for 
hearings to be heard in full or part in private. 
Local court procedures may vary, but it will normally 
be the case that HMCTS staff prepare the appropriate 
There are a variety of reporting restrictions that apply 
notice following an order for reporting restrictions. 
automatically – or at a judicial office-holder’s 
The notice should always be agreed with the judicial 
discretion – in a range of proceedings.These are set 
office holder who made the order, before being 
in statute or occasionally case law. A judicial office­
signed by the HMCTS manager or nominated 
holder will sometimes have to achieve a difficult 
deputy. 
balance between the desire for openness and pressures 
to protect the interests or security of parties.This 
Every care should be taken for notices to be displayed 
Guide does not dwell on specific restrictions, but 
clearly at the court/hearing room door, by the daily 
focuses on the general principles. 
lists and in a press room (if available), and by drawing 
them to the attention of reporters.They can also be 
The Judicial College, in collaboration with the 
mentioned on courts with Xhibit screens (‘reporting 
Society of Editors, has published two helpful guides: 
restrictions apply in this case’).  Orders made in high-
profile cases should also be passed to the national 
Reporting Restrictions in the Criminal Courts: 
media – the Judicial Press Office can assist with this. 
http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/D 
ocuments/Guidance/crown_court 
It is important that any amendments or additions to 
_reporting_restrictions_021009.pdf 
reporting restrictions are handled in exactly the same 
manner. 
The Family Courts: http://www.judiciary.gov.uk
Resources/JCO/Documents/Guidance/ 
Identification of Magistrates, Tribunal judges 
family-courts-media-july2011.pdf 
and members 
The media are of course bound by the law and by 
The position in common law is clear – it would be 
their codes of practice on what information they can 
considered inimical to the administration of justice to 
use about proceedings, even where they have access 
protect the identity of  Tribunal Judges and Tribunal 
to it. 
Members presiding over hearings. 
The court or tribunal should exercise the utmost care 
In relation to magistrates this was established in the 
before making an order to restrict reporting – it has 
cases R v Felixstowe Justices ex p Leigh (1987) and R v 
to ensure it has the power to make the order and that 
Evesham Justices ex p McDonagh (1988). 
the order is necessary. It should also be prepared to 
listen to representations from the media when they 
Whilst there is an expectation that first names and 
consider that restrictions are unwarranted or make 
surnames will be released, the media are asked to 
sensible reporting difficult.The court or tribunal 
make it clear that Tribunal panels and magistrates 


Media guidance for the judiciary 
In the courts/tribunals 
make collective decisions not individual ones. If one 
issue in terms that intrude on privacy and/or security, 
person is to be quoted it should be as “John Smith, 
assistance can be sought from the Chamber/Tribunal 
speaking on behalf of the panel, said…” 
President, Hearing Centre Manager, Bench Chair, the 
Chief Magistrate,  Justices’ clerk or Judicial Press 
In situations where identity is being made a major 
Office. 
Filming/Photography and Recording in Courts  
and Tribunals  
In September 2011, the Lord Chancellor announced 
These ‘phones are increasingly used by journalists to 
his intention to change the law to allow cameras in 
file copy or blog on court proceedings and this type 
court as a way of increasing public confidence in the 
of activity is permitted, unless a judge directs 
justice system.The Lord Chief Justice has appointed 
otherwise, under the Lord Chief Justice’s Practice 
Lord Justice Gross to lead on discussions with the 
Guidance on live text-based communications from 
Ministry of Justice, HMCTS and the broadcast media 
court in December 2011 (see: 
in preparation to a change in the law. 
http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Docu 
ments/Guidance/ltbc-guidance-dec-2011.pdf). 
It is intended that broadcasting will initially be 
allowed only from the Court of Appeal (Civil and 
The Contempt of Court Act probably applies to all 
Criminal), but the Lord Chancellor has said he will 
tribunals that exercise court-like functions, although 
look to expand this to the Crown Court eventually. 
the ambit of the Act is not settled and not all 
tribunals may be covered. If  in doubt consult your 
In the meantime, the law remains the same and for 
Chamber President. 
ease of reference, this section just sets out the terms 
of the current law prohibiting the taking of 
Sound recording in court 
photographs (including film/television) in court and, 
Section 9(1) of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 
by analogy, tribunals. 
(which applies to England,Wales and Northern 
Ireland) prohibits the recording of sounds, except 
Section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1925, which 
with the leave of the court. Section 9(2) of the Act 
applies to England and Wales, prohibits the taking of 
provides that it is a contempt of court to broadcast 
photographs or making of sketches in or around a 
recordings of court proceedings to the public. 
court and prohibits publication of any such 
photograph or sketch. 
Generally this has not precluded photographs taken at 
[Smart] ‘phones are increasingly used by 
court open days (as these are recognisably not live 
journalists to file copy or blog on court 
proceedings); although judicial office-holders should 
take care not to be photographed alone on the 
proceedings and this type of activity is 
bench. 
permitted, unless a judge directs otherwise, 
under the Lord Chief Justice’s Practice 
Mobile or smart ‘phones tend to have the ability to 
Guidance on live text-based communications 
record sound and take photographs or film.There 
from court in December 2011 
have been several examples of men and women being 
convicted of contempt of court for taking 
photographs on mobile phones during trials. 


In the courts/tribunals 
Media guidance for the judiciary 
feed being provided when the jury is not present in 
court. 
Media use of "Live Note" transcripts at High-
The procedure is that the broadcaster seeking a live 
Profile trials 
feed will request consent of the trial judge, who will 
decide whether to grant the request and whether any 
The senior judiciary and ministers approved a 
conditions over and above normal reporting 
protocol for broadcasters to purchase or take a feed 
restrictions should apply.The administrative 
from the live note or real-time stenographic 
arrangements are looked after by court staff. 
transcription of high profile court proceedings (not 
including magistrates’ courts).The protocol is 
To date the procedure has only been used in a small 
included in the Crown Court manual (Section 20, 
number of cases. 
Appendix C), which includes provisions such as no 
10 

Media guidance for the judiciary 
Out of court/tribunals 
Out of court/tribunals  
Doorstepping 
The situation where reporters call out questions to 
for the TV or radio news.  
you as you enter or leave a building or car is known 
This might be cold comfort, but an understanding of  
as ‘doorstepping’. This can often be anticipated, but 
why doorstepping occurs places you in a stronger  
will normally occur at very short notice. 
position.  
A judicial office-holder who becomes the focus of 
Be prepared 
media attention, usually because of a decision or 
comments made in court, can be doorstepped by a 
group of reporters and photographers outside a court 
If you think you might be doorstepped, it is 
or at the tribunal hearing, or at home. It can be an 
recommended you prepare a stock answer such as: 
unpleasant and unnerving experience. 
“I’m sorry but I’m unable to discuss this matter 
outside the court/tribunal” or, if asked a question 
However daunting it may seem, it is in reality only a 
about a case,“I have said everything I intend to say 
few reporters or photographers trying to do their job, 
about the case in court/tribunal, and have nothing 
or get a picture for their newspaper, or a sound-bite 
further to add” - and politely stick to it. 
Doorstepping – general advice 
Do 
•  
stay calm and be polite. 
•  
if you are caught outside a building, walk on in a purposeful manner. 
•  
if you find yourself the centre of a media scrum - stop walking momentarily. You will find 
that the reporters and photographers will naturally back off to give you space. Having 
established a degree of control, continue on. 
•  
always look friendly and use your prepared stock answer - even if it is only “Good 
morning”. 
•  
look at the reporters (not at the cameras). 
Don’t 
•  
make a dash for your car, or retreat into the building. 
•  
go in search of HMCTS staff or a police officer - unless you genuinely feel physically 
threatened. 
•  
let the reporters or photographers think they have surprised or are upsetting you. 
•  
put your hand over the lens of a camera. 
•  
hide your face, eg with a briefcase or a newspaper. 
•  
say "No comment!" 
•  
and, as much as you may like to, don’t brusquely tell them to go away. 
11 

Out of court/tribunals 
Media guidance for the judiciary 
Complaints Commission (PCC’s) Code of Practice 
Two further options are: 
and the equivalent codes used by broadcasters, the 
•   say nothing at all - the easiest course of action, 
media may also legitimately photograph and film 
but it may create an unnecessary impression of 
your car and home from a public thoroughfare. 
arrogance; 
If you are concerned that your car number plate may 
•   respond to all questions as best you can - this 
be clearly seen or the whereabouts of your home 
course is fraught with pitfalls, given that the 
clearly identified on a news broadcast or in a 
subject matter will normally be related to a 
published photograph, the Judicial Press Office can 
case. 
ask the relevant media organisation to blank it out in 
time for the next transmission or edition.The Judicial 
Press Office’s experience is that television newsdesks 
In some (rare) instances you may consider offering 
and newspapers normally cooperate with such 
the reporters an opportunity to record a brief, 
requests. 
prepared (written) statement and to photograph you 
outside the court/tribunal or your home - on the 
The PCC’s Code of Practice states that, unless their 
understanding they will then leave. 
enquiries are in the public interest, journalists should 
not: 
If you wish to take this option, you can ask the 
•  
photograph individuals on private property, 
Judicial Press Office to broker an arrangement on 
such as a garden, without their consent; 
your behalf. The press officers can contact the 
•  
persist in telephoning or questioning 
newsdesks of the media involved to arrange a suitable 
individuals after having been asked to stop; 
time and place. and can also advise newsdesks that 
•  
remain on an individual’s property after 
you do not wish to make a statement, and that there 
having been asked to leave; and 
is no point in their reporters/photographers waiting 
•  
nor should they follow an individual. 
at your home. 
Not all matters which interest the public are in the 
If doorstepped at home 
public interest. Even when personal matters become 
the proper subject of enquiry, people in the public 
eye or their immediate family or friends do not 
In the unlikely event that you and your family are 
forfeit the right to privacy, though there may be 
‘besieged’ by reporters or photographers outside your 
occasions where private behaviour raises broader 
house: 
public issues either through the nature of the 
•  
follow the advice given above 
behaviour itself or by the consequences of it 
•  
try not to let them draw your family into the 
becoming widely known. 
situation. 
But any information broadcast should be significant 
You should be aware, however, that friends, 
to the story as well as true. The location of a person’s 
neighbours, even local publicans or shopkeepers who 
home or family should not normally be revealed 
know you, may get asked for information. If you feel 
unless strictly relevant to the behaviour under 
it is likely they could be contacted by the media it 
investigation.This is particularly true for the judiciary, 
might be worth warning selected people and giving 
because of the security dimension of a judicial office­
them a simple ‘line to take’. 
holder’s home address being revealed publicly. 
Be wary if you are asked for family photographs.  It is 
In addition to its Code of Practice, the PCC also 
recommended that you decline any such requests. 
issued a guidance note to the print media specifically 
on the judiciary and harassment.This reminded 
Security 
editors of the convention that judges do not 
comment outside a courtroom or hearing room on 
Within the constraints laid down by the Press 
12 

Media guidance for the judiciary 
Out of court/tribunals 
cases over which they have presided, including  
to the press about such matters, approaches to judges, or 
discussion of a sentence.  
members of their family, by reporters for comments about 
It is reproduced here:  
a judge’s involvement in a case may lead to a breach of 
Clause 4 (Harassment) of the Code.The relevant part 

The Judiciary and harassment 
of Clause 4 says that “journalists … must not persist in 
telephoning, questioning, pursuing or photographing 

Editors may be aware of the convention that dictates 
individuals having been asked to desist; must not remain 
that judges cannot comment outside a courtroom on any 
on their property after having been asked to leave and 
case over which they are presiding, or have presided, or 
must not follow them”. 
discuss any decision they have made, or any sentence 
they have imposed.They are equally prohibited from 

Editors should ensure that their own staff are aware of 
commenting on or discussing the decisions of other 
the protocol which prevents judges from discussing cases 
judges. 
that they have tried and of the issues this raises under 
the Code. Editors must also, of course, satisfy themselves 

The Commission would like to highlight to editors that, 
that material based on an approach to a judge and 
as there are no circumstances in which judges can speak 
supplied by freelancers or news agencies has been 
obtained in accordance with the Code. 

Interviews 
Judicial office-holders are often experts in particular 
The Judicial Press Office will liaise with the relevant 
aspects of the law or in related matters such as 
members of the senior judiciary to consider each 
witness protection, dealing with child witnesses, or 
interview bid on a case by case basis.The Press Office 
the use of IT in courts. As such, they are often 
may refer the request back to a particular judge, a 
regarded by journalists as people who can offer 
member of the Judicial Media Panel or another 
a useful, objective point of view and so are often 
judicial office-holder with a view to them doing the 
asked to give interviews or take part in media 
interview. 
discussions on topical issues. 
We recognise that some members of the judiciary, 
If you are approached directly by the media you 
especially magistrates and tribunal members or those 
should refer the journalist to the Judicial Press Office. 
who do not work full-time as a judge, often have 
other roles within their profession or local 
In line with the advice from the Lord Chief Justice 
community. 
and Senior President of Tribunals, the presumption is 
that any interview bid would be declined and 
If you are taking part in media interviews or 
certainly no interview should take place without the 
television programmes as a result of one of these roles 
advice of your Head of Division/Chamber 
you should ensure you are not going to be described 
President/Bench Chair/the Chief Magistrate and the 
by your judicial role in advance.When deciding 
Judicial Press Office and Lord Chief Justice/Senior 
whether to take part you should also consider 
President of Tribunals/Senior Presiding Judge being 
whether doing so could bring the judiciary into 
aware first. 
disrepute, even if you are not described as a member 
of the judiciary. 
There may be occasions when the senior judiciary 
feels it is appropriate for a member of the judiciary to 
The Judicial Press Office can provide advice and 
give an interview in response, for example, to a 
training, if necessary, to any judicial office holder who 
particular report or to explain the role of judicial 
it asks to participate in an interview. 
office-holders in a case. 
13 

Out of court/tribunals 
Media guidance for the judiciary 
Speeches
Speeches 
If you are making a speech that may be of interest to 
Head of Division.You may find it is advisable to ask a 
the media (either from the nationals or the specialist 
colleague to read your draft in advance.The Judicial 
legal press eg Law Society Gazette), perhaps because 
Press Office can arrange for the Corporate 
it is on a topical issue or at a high profile event, you 
Communications Team to publish appropriate 
should try to let the Judicial Press Office know in 
speeches on the judiciary’s website and issue copies to 
advance, as well as your Bench Chair, Chamber 
key journalists. 
President, the Chief Magistrate, Presiding Judge or 
Letters to newspapers 
From time to time some members of the judiciary 
ensure you are not seen to be commenting on a 
have had letters to editors published. If writing a 
particular case or a politically sensitive issue. 
letter for publication you should consider whether it 
is appropriate to include any reference to your 
You may wish to let a colleague read your draft 
judicial position. If you do you should take care to 
before submitting for publication. 
Parliamentary Select Committees  
Judges or magistrates invited to attend a 
On oral evidence, the media attend Committees and 
Parliamentary Select Committee should consult 
can also access their proceedings online, so again 
Beatson J’s guidance: 
judicial office-holders should be aware that they are 
http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO
commenting in a public forum, and their evidence 
Documents/Guidance/select_committee_guidance07 
may be subject to comment by the media, politicians 
08.pdf 
and others. For example if a judge is critical of the 
Government’s handling of a particular issue. 
For the purposes of this guide, we need only dwell 
on some media issues arising out of Select 
At times, a judicial office-holder will want to prepare 
Committee evidence. 
an opening statement to the Committee, to set out 
their views in some detail.These statements can be 
On written evidence, whilst the Committee will not 
made available to the media by the Judicial Press 
necessarily choose to make all of the written 
Office, to help ensure a judge’s comments are 
evidence they receive publicly available, it is sensible 
accurately reported and in their proper context. 
to proceed on the basis that they will.Therefore a 
judicial office-holder submitting evidence should 
It is advisable for prepared statements to be discussed 
accept that his/her views may be aired in public and 
in advance with the Presiding Judge/Head of 
subject to public comment. 
Division/Chamber President/Bench Chair/justices’ 
clerk/the Chief Magistrate and the Judicial Press 
Office. 
14 

Media guidance for the judiciary 
Out of court/tribunals 
Libel 
Media criticism of judicial office-holders - however 
Involving your solicitor 
harsh or misconceived - is a fact of life. 
In extreme cases you may wish to discuss the matter 
Even in the 1930s Lord Atkin of Aberdovey, a Lord of 
with your solicitor who could consider the following 
Appeal in Ordinary, was able to surmise that justice 
points: 
“is not a cloistered virtue”; today, even more so, 
•   what steps might be taken through media 
magistrates and judges operate in the public eye and 
organisations’ legal departments. 
must expect to be subject to comment and scrutiny 
in the media. 
•   ensure that the offending organisation acts 
immediately to notify the owner of any 
And if this comment is sometimes not wholly fair or 
computerised databank licensed to hold the 
accurate, it should, nevertheless, be seen as an 
material (world-wide) for retrieval by 
unavoidable reflection of the judicial role in 
subscribers - and that each be required to 
contemporary society. 
ensure: 
In normal circumstances, if you believe you have 
•  
the erroneous material is withdrawn 
been unfairly criticised in the media or elsewhere, 
and any agreed correction is 
your appropriate recourse - if any - will be to seek 
incorporated into the relevant 
the publication or broadcast of a correction and/or 
databank; 
an apology. The Judicial Press Office will always be 
•  
a suitably worded cross-reference to 
happy to assist you in doing so. 
the withdrawal/ correction appears 
alongside the article in question, 
If that is not forthcoming, where the media are 
drawing attention to the existence 
concerned you can refer the matter to the Press 
and location of the 
Complaints Commission or Ofcom/the BBC. 
withdrawal/correction; and 
•  
the withdrawal/ correction to be 
First step to obtain redress 
incorporated in the organisation’s 
own cutting folders (both manual 
If you believe you have been libelled - before or in 
and electronic) or film libraries ­
lieu of entering into litigation - we recommend you 
again with a suitably worded cross-
should first try to obtain: 
reference. 
•   a retraction; and/or 
Taking legal action: points to consider 
•   an apology; and 
In certain circumstances, having weighed up these 
•   the removal of the offending article from 
considerations, you may feel that the media 
media paper and electronic ‘cuttings’ libraries. 
comments are so damaging and unfair to you 
personally and/or to the judiciary collectively that 
you do want to initiate proceedings for libel. 
There are several ways of proceeding, especially if you 
have been misreported (see the section in this Guide 
If so, you need to take account of the following: 
headed Misreporting).The key thing is to take action as 
quickly as possible. 
•   the nature, tone and content of the comments 
in question and whether legal  action would 
15 

Out of court/tribunals 
Media guidance for the judiciary 
be commensurate with the damage caused or 
• 
the view that it may not always be compatible 
seen to be caused by them; 
with the status and dignity of judicial office for 
a judge to initiate legal proceedings, however 
•   any implications for the reputation and 
provocative the comments made by the media; 
standing of the judiciary collectively, as well as 
and 
for yourself, of the comments in question or 
the lack of any legal challenge to them; 
• 
the likelihood of a successful action. 
•   the risk that libel actions keep words that 
might otherwise have been forgotten in the 
public mind long after the original event; 
It is recommended that the possibility of a libel action should be regarded as a  
matter of last resort.  Moreover, before taking particular steps regarding action,  
you should inform your Presiding Judge/Head of Division/Chamber  
President/Bench Chairman/the Chief Magistrate and court legal team about any  
defamation or indeed other proceedings that you intend to institute that may  
bring your judicial function into public scrutiny.  
The Judicial Press Office cannot give legal advice on libel. 
16 

Media guidance for the judiciary 
Useful links 
Useful links  
Judicial guidance 
Guide to Judicial Conduct (August 2011): 
http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Guidance/guide-judicial-conduct-aug2011.pdf 
The Family Courts: Media Access & Reporting (July 2011): 
http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Guidance/family-courts-media-july2011.pdf 
Practice Guidance:The Use of Live Text-Based Forms of Communication (including Twitter) from Court for 
the Purposes of Fair and Accurate Reporting (December 2011): 
http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Guidance/ltbc-guidance-dec-2011.pdf 
Reporting Restrictions in the Criminal Courts (October 2009): 
http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Guidance/crown_court_reporting_restrictions_02 
1009.pdf 
External guidance 
ACPO/CPS Protocol for working together: Chief Police Officers, Chief Crown Prosecutors and the Media: 
http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/agencies/mediaprotocol.html#a02 
BBC Editorial Guidelines: 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/editorialguidelines/ 
Press Complaints Commission’s Editors’ Code of Practice: 
http://www.pcc.org.uk/cop/practice.html 
Ofcom Broadcasting Code Guidance: 
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/broadcasting/guidance/programme-guidance/bguidance
17