CATs Assignment Notes: research sites visited

The Chosen Question is:

Discuss what the English and Welsh court system comprises of and how criminal and civil laws differ


List of sites visited for research

16C.7 Where a member of the public, who is in court, wishes to use live  text‐based  communications  during  court  proceedings  an  application  for  permission  to  activate  and  use,  in  silent  mode,  a  mobile phone, small laptop or similar piece of equipment, solely in  order to make live text‐based communications of  the proceedings will  need  to  be  made.  The  application  may  be  made  formally  or  informally  (for instance by communicating a  request  to  the judge  through court staff).

16C.8 It  is  presumed  that  a  representative  of  the  media  or  a  legal  commentator  using  live  text‐based  communications  from  court  does  not  pose  a  danger  of  interference  to  the  proper  administration of justice in the individual case. This is because the  most  obvious  purpose  of  permitting  the  use  of  live  text‐based  communications would be to enable the media to produce fair and accurate  reports  of  the  proceedings.  As  such,  a  representative  of  the  media  or  a  legal  commentator  who  wishes  to  use  live  text‐ based  communications  from  court may  do  so  without making  an  application to the court.


Rice, G, & Thomas, T 2013, ‘James Bulger — a matter of public interest?’, International Journal Of Children’s Rights, 21, 1, pp. 1-11, SocINDEX with Full Text, EBSCOhost, viewed 5 January 2018.

From <>


The press, and media generally, wanted to continue reporting their whereabouts and the activities they were engaged in and cited Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights which is the right to ‘freedom of expression’. This right is further promoted by the UK Human Rights Act 1998 that brings the European Convention into the Jurisdiction of the British courts and section 12 of that Act which requires that UK courts ‘must have particular regard to the importance of the Convention right to freedom of expression’ and not least when Journalistic material is involved.

Civil division links

Decline in court reporting




CATS Assignment Evaluation

This essay has been quite a challenge, and that’s not a bad thing.

The question:  ‘Discuss what the English and Welsh court system comprises of and how criminal and civil laws differ’ is quite open for interpretation. Obviously it has to be related to journalism, but I really found keeping to the word count hard – I do think it could however be a good dissertation topic.

During our media law sessions with Nicky we covered Criminal Court which was a great help but Civil Court is a beast all on its own. The complexity is so much higher, the different types of cases and the restrictions of what you can do.

I decided to try and use examples within Criminal Court of the what can be achieved. Within the Civil Court sector I tried to highlight what can happen to the press when things go wrong.

Overall I was happy with what I have produced . During the time I have had personal issues to deal with which have been really tough, but this actually helped give me something to focus on.


English and Welsh Court System’s – The Basic’s

The courts are a constant source of content for any reporter.

It is really important to understand not only the differences between Magistrates Court and Crown Court, but also  the judicial process and what can and cant be reported.

The English Court System

  • There are two main types of court – Magistrates Court & Crown Court
  • In England and Wales most criminal (both adult and youth) are presented to the Magistrates Court
  • More serious cases are dealt with in Crown Court

Magistrates Court

Within the Magistrates Court there are two distinct ways of working.

1, Three Magistrates sit together at the bench. They are volunteers and know as ‘lay’ magistrates, and are trained for the role but have no legal qualifications

2, A District Judge will deal with more complex cases, and is someone who is legally trained

There is a Court Legal Advisor

Cases Types

  • If someone is charged with a serious offence, they will either be bailed (allowed to leave, usually with a cash sum to be paid and conditions attached) or remanded in custody (taken to prison where they will remain until trial, this ‘time served’ is usually deducted from any custodial sentence passed). The case is the transferred to Crown Court from Magistrates.
  • ‘Summary Offences’ – This kind of offence can only be tried by a  Magistrates Court. This includes: minor theft, minor public offences and most motoring offences
  • ‘Either Way Offences’ – This kind of offence is more serious and can be dealt with by either Magistrates or Crown Courts and includes: Drug offences, burglary and handling of stolen goods


Sentencing in Magistrates Court has limits to what can be given.

Imprisonment is capped at 12 months per offence to a maximum of 65 weeks

Fines – Generally speaking the maximum fine is £5000 per offence


Crown Court

The types of crimes that are tried in Crown Court are Murder, Rape and Robbery.

Trials are overseen by a Judge who rules on the law and imposes sentences.

A Jury made up of 12 members of the public who have been chosen at random, it is their job to decide whether on the evidence provided the charge is proven.


A Judge has the power to issue the maximum fine or prison set out for any offence


Coroners Court 

This court can’t determine innocence or guilt


Civil Court 

County Court

Most cases are heard in this court, with the exception of the most complicated of cases.

Includes breach of contract, housing issues, debt repayments, and enforcement of CCJ’s

High Court 

Hears appeals from County Court, and provide first hearings for the most complex of cases.

The court is divided into 3 sections

The Chancery deals with commercial law, business disputes, commercial law and bankruptcy.

The Family Court deals with matrimonial matters, adoption, child custody, separation and uncontested probate

The Queens Bench hears the most complex of cases which range from shipping to tech



Industry Reflection – Grenfell Tower

The sort of grassroots local newspaper journalism that might have picked up The Grenfell Tower fire safety concerns in advance of being lost.

The Grenfell Tower fire was a disaster which should never have happened. In 2012 an extract was printed on the Grenfell Tower Action Group website showing fire extinguishers clearly marked as CONDEMNED written from 2009. In Feb of 2013 on the same blog concerns have been raised as fire equipment had  not been tested for over 12 months.

These are the sort of reports a local reporter would have picked up on.

This was written in an article for Hold The Front Page in 2013 by Ross Hawkes.

In an article for Hold The Front Page Ross Hawkes said ‘Gone are those who are known by everyone who is anyone in their local area with a finger firmly on the community’s pulse’.  This couldn’t be more accurate. In an age where local papers are in decline it is highly likely that if the areas only local paper the Kensington and Chelsea News had more than two reporters they would have picked up on the Blog, and the residents would not only know who the reporters are, but also feel able to approach them and tell them what is going on.

The Press Gazette  ran an article in June this year with the headline ‘Former Kensington reporter says local press would have picked up on Grenfell fire in pre-internet era’.

In the article Grant Fuller, a former reporter at the Kensington and Chelsea News said: ‘If we hadn’t found that story ourselves we would have been bollocked by the editor. Any local newspaper journalist worth his or her salt would have been all over that story because of that blog.’

There could never be evidence that a local reporter could have prevented the tragedy from happening, but it could have drawn attention to the situation.






CATS Reflection on Leveson

The Leveson  Inquest investigated the British Press following the Phone Hacking Scandal

2007 – News of the World’s editor Clive Goodman and private investigator Glenn Mulcare were convicted interception of phone messages.


2011 – The Police launched an investigation names Operation Weeting following a civil settlement with Sienna Miller.

As a result of this investigation it was revealed that Milly Dowlers phone messages had been hacked, leading people to believe she was still alive.

The enquiry was in 2 parts:

1, investigates the contact between the press and the Police and the press and politicians, the ethics of the press and to consider the extent to which the current regulatory regime has failed and whether there had been a failure to act on warnings of media misconduct.

2, the extent of unlawful or improper conduct within News International, other media organisations. Also the extent which any relevant the police force investigated allegations related to New Internation and whether the police received or were otherwise complicit in misconduct.

Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed the findings, but declined to bring in the legislation.

Part 2 has never been released.


In 2014 the press formed Independent Press Standards Organisation known as IPSO

IPSO has never fined a paper

IMPRESS is the only organisation backed by Press Regulation Panel and Press Regulation. In 2016

Municipal/Community Reporting

In this lesson we looked into what it takes to be a good community or municipal reporter.

As silly as it sounds one of the first understand the difference between the different councils and what they are responsible for.

If someone is complaining regarding ongoing issues with x,y and z you need to be aware of who controls/has responsibility for it to allow the right to respond.

If there is an issue with bins or community issue you must know who to contact.

Here is a brief outline of who controls what:

County Councils

  • Education
  • Transport
  • planning
  • fire and public safety b
  • social care
  • libraries
  • waste management
  • trading standards
  • EHO

District, Borough and City Councils

  • Rubbish collection
  • Recycling
  • Council Tax Collections
  • Housing
  • Planning applications

Parish, Community and Town Councils

  • Allotments
  • Public Clocks
  • Bus Shelters
  • Community Centres
  • Play areas & Equipment
  • Grants
  • Consultation on Neighborhood Planning
  • litter
  • Graffiti
  • Fly Tipping
  • Dog Offenses

Understanding who’s responsible for what is not enough, its also vital to understand how the system works and who does what.

Local government regardless of the level is like a big machine and every person in every department plays their part.

Above all else THE most important thing for a reporter is to understand the people you serve.

All communities are different with differing needs and issues.

A good municipal reported understands people and what makes them tick, as well as what upsets them.

A reporter needs to be observant, accurate, empathetic and think skinned.

The are few tips I’ve been given are:

  • become friends or at least on first name terms with the press officers and staff in all majors services.
  • be seen, the more people see you in and about your patch the more they will talk to you and trust you
  • get to know the local shop keepers and community leaders, they usually like to talk


Yorkshire Rose Media Blog

As part of our Creative Futures Web module we are concentrating on the use of Social Media to promote a blog and create a community.

It was suggested we continue with the blog we created last year, there is a slight issue with that, mine was on weight loss and to say I’ve fallen off the wagon is prob the understatement of the year.

So may introduce you to Yorkshire Rose Media  

The Yorkshire Rose Media brand was something I came up with last year as part of a personal branding project. It has become my primary Twitter handle @yorkrosemedia.

I feel it therefore makes sense to build on this.

I love my home county and all it has to offer, I love the people and the way it has so much to offer.

I am a great believer in promoting the county and what its Cities have to offer. I am actively involved in promoting several

@HullHour HullHour logo @LeedsHourLeeds Hour logo @sheffieldHour sheffield hour logo

each of these #hours run weekly and are growing in popularity with @HullHour regularly receiving over 20,000 impressions on a Thursday night.

@YorkHour yorkhour logo1789451575..jpg is preparing to re-launch on 6th November.