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Police and crime commissioner breaks the law

June 13, 2019 12:00 PM

Gloucestershire's police and crime commissioner inadvertently broke the law when he posed for a photograph with TV presenter Nick Knowles outside Cheltenham Magistrates' Court.

Martin Surl was photographed with the DIY SOS star on the steps of the courthouse after Mr Knowles was banned from the roads for six months for speeding and using a mobile phone while driving.

When Mr Surl posed for the picture he breached Section 41 Criminal Justice Act 1925, which makes it an offence to take any photograph "either in the courtroom or its precincts".

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, leader of Gloucester Liberal Democrats, said: "I saw Mr Surl had posted the picture of him with Mr Knowles on Twitter and also wrote a blog post about the case.

"It struck me that the balcony immediately outside Cheltenham Magistrates' Court is part of the building, which means it is classed as the court precinct.

"It is against the law to take photos either inside a courtroom or in its precincts.

"You would hope that as a former police superintendent and now the county's police and crime commissioner, Mr Surl would know the law.

"The penalty on summary conviction is a fine not exceeding £1,000.

"I would think it is highly unlikely that Mr Surl would be prosecuted but it is embarrassing. He really should know better."

Councillor Hilton added: "I would hope this acts a reminder to ordinary members of the public of what could happen if you take photographs within the precincts of a court building."

Section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1925 states:

41Prohibition on taking photographs, &c, in court

(1)No person shall-

(a)take or attempt to take in any court any photograph, or with a view to publication make or attempt to make in any court any portrait or sketch, of any person, being a judge of the court or a juror or a witness in or a party to any proceedings before the court, whether civil or criminal; or

(b)publish any photograph, portrait or sketch taken or made in contravention of the foregoing provisions of this section or any reproduction thereof;

and if any person acts in contravention of this section he shall, on summary conviction, he liable in respect of each offence to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds.

(2)For the purposes of this section-

(a)the expression " court" means any court of justice, including the court of a coroner :

(b)the expression "judge" includes recorder, registrar, magistrate, justice and coroner :

(c)a photograph, portrait or sketch shall be deemed to be a photograph, portrait or sketch taken or made in court if it is taken or made in the court-room or in the building or in the precincts of the building in which the court is held, or if it is a photograph, portrait or sketch taken or made of the person while he is entering or leaving the court-room or any such building or precincts as aforesaid.