Proposals to set up a national network of court spokesmen are being
considered by the Lord Chancellor’s Department as part of a drive to
improve public opinion of judges.
The idea, if it is approved by judges, the court service and the Lord
Chancellor, would be piloted in a selection of courts later this
The Government wants better information about sentencing policy to be
made available to the public and the media, after a Home Office survey
published this week showed the public think judges are too lenient on
’Widespread cynicism about justice ... is founded on systematic public
ignorance,’ according to the survey.
At present, court managers, previously known as chief clerks, answer
purely factual questions from the media. Reporters are referred to the
Lord Chancellor’s press office for in-depth briefings.
Judges have no press office, although the Lord Chief Justice, Lord
Bingham of Cornhill, has a private secretary, Nick Chibnall, who acts as
Michael Streeter, legal affairs correspondent for the Independent, said
the proposals would only be effective if court spokesmen were properly
trained. ’Judges and court managers will need to be proactive in
spotting and dealing with potentially controversial cases,’ he said.