Tuesday, April 26, 2016

From Bystander T

From Bystander T ( a wise and experienced old beak)

Back in the day,  the Press would have someone sitting at the back of the court quite regularly.  Sometimes it was one of the old hands, looking for a warm place to rest; sometimes a junior, sent to cut their teeth, practising the art.  Rarely would a week go by with no reporter appearing in court.  In recent times reporters seem to appear only for celebrities or other high profile defendants. 

Then earlier this week, with a mixed list in the remand court, what do I see but two reporters sitting at the back.  Examining the list I see a rather nasty sexual assault case, on a girl of 16.  It is at the nastier end of the spectrum so is to be sent to ‘hizonner’ up the road.  That must the case which has attracted the hacks attention? 

But no.  On consulting she who must be obeyed (the usher) we discovered that the case they wanted to see was a traffic matter.  Some misguided youth was seen driving round with  a blue light, à la politzie and had been stopped.  It was his prosecution that brought back the reporters. 

May I be forgiven for thinking this a sad reflection? 


  1. No, a bad reflection (of a blue light off the shop windows).

  2. Perhaps, but probably more a reflection of the low standards of reporting in the local press, no doubt driven by the flight of readers and associated advertising revenue to online sources.

    I live in a county town, the largest city for 30 or 40 miles around, and the amount of original copy in a day's edition of the local paper is tiny.

  3. A sad reflection on whom?

  4. Copy and Paste error in paragraph 2.

  5. I started my career on local newspapers, with court reporting and council meetings our staple diet. No court case in our three magistrates' courts or county assizes (as the crown court was then) went unreported. Even the smallest offences were listed in columns, one of one led to considerable embarrassment when one Friday when our weekly was published, the chairman of the district council (a titled lady) typographically slipped out of the speeding column into the 'urinating in a public place' column...

    When I became a magistrate some 40 years later, I too was surprised not to see the local rags regularly represented in court. They poured in for four murder remands which came my way, and for a couple of historic sexual charges, but otherwise the press bench remained empty. We get the press we deserve.

  6. Why bother going through the trouble of going to court and actually finding out things? The preferred method of investigative journalism seems to be to craft an FOI request which will embarrass the public body concerned, follow it up with something from the Taxpayers Alliance or a rent-a-quote MP and job done - no need to wear out shoe leather and find out things by asking people.

  7. Examining the list I see a rather nasty sexual assault case, on a girl of 16


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