Media Relations: Judges' press office 'will raise' public confidence

Judges are to get their own dedicated press office for the first time in an effort to improve public confidence in the judicial system.

A communications office of eight PROs will be set up on 4 April, including two public information officers dedicated to improving the flow of information from judges to the media.

The office, located at the Royal Courts of Justice, will represent judicial officeholders in England and Wales. They previously received comms support from the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA).

DCA head of corporate comms Mike Wicksteed will move across to head the unit, with chief communications planner Peter Farr becoming its chief public information officer.

Wicksteed said the office would alert journalists to 'guideline judgements' and was available to individual judges on request, citing the example of a judge seeking advice after being misrepresented in the media.

However, he added that the comms team's brief extended beyond media relations to include communicating directly to the public, stakeholders and judges, with additional PROs for publications, the web and internal communications.

DCA spokesperson Peter O'Connor said the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf - who takes over from the Lord Chancellor as head of the judiciary next year - set up the dedicated office because judges were independent of the DCA and the Lord Chancellor.

He added that the office offered a co-ordinated media resource for judges, who operate independently of each other and lack the time or skills to build up their own media relations.

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