first_imgCriminal defence solicitor Jeremy Leaning cc’d Obiter on this letter to justice secretary Ken Clarke. He promises to keep us posted of the minister’s response. Dear SirPermission to bring a handheld voice recorder/dictation machine into courtOn 4 August I attended East Cornwall Magistrates’ Court at Bodmin in order to represent a client in custody. As is my usual practice, I brought a handheld voice recorder to court for the purpose of work. This allows for optimum use of the downtime at court. I have done this for the last 20 years. A security guard stopped me at the entrance to the court and informed me that I would need specific permission to bring the voice recorder in to the court premises. A short time later the court manager provided me with a policy document and requested that I make a written application [for permission]… I attach a copy of the policy document with which I expect you will be familiar. I hope that you share the view that this policy is a wholly unnecessary piece of regulation and should be withdrawn. Certainly that is my first invitation to you. However, if it should be the decision to persist with the policy, can I make a formal application to you as de facto head of the Court Service for a blanket authority to use my hand-held voice recorder on court premises… If you are sympathetic to my application, I would not be averse to providing a passport-size photograph to enable you to provide a photo-card-sized permission akin to a driving licence. One would then avoid the need to make a series of separate applications to each court for permission. Would it also be possible to make a blanket request on behalf of my firm notwithstanding the guidance in the policy? I could make a universal application on behalf of my partner and our staff, again providing photographs if necessary, which would certainly save on paperwork and time.J P Leaning, SmithLeaning Criminal Advocateslast_img

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