Breaking the Silence – Court Rules Prisoners Can Speak to the Media

London: After almost 8 years of patiently requesting permission from the Ministry of Justice to speak with an investigative journalist about his wrongful conviction, former King’s College London law student Mark Alexander has today Friday 16th June, won his legal challenge against the government’s restrictive policy on prisoners’ access to the media. Multiple journalists have been frustrated in their attempts to gain access to Mark for an interview, having been repeatedly turned down by the Ministry of Justice Press Office and its draconian vetting process – a problem familiar to any documentary film and podcast maker attempting to investigate potential miscarriages of justice here in England and Wales. As journalist Robin Eveleigh explained to the Court:
The role of the media in highlighting and exposing miscarriages of justice cannot be overstated. The BBC’s pioneering investigative documentary Rough Justice led to 18 convictions being overturned”. Many of us will have watched or listened to such documentaries produced in America and elsewhere, where media access is made much more straightforward. However, the approach in this country has had a long-term chilling effect on the production of such documentaries, which have become far less common, leading to a lack of effective scrutiny of our criminal justice system while marginalising prisoner voices.
In a landmark judgement, the High Court has issued important guidance on how the policy should be correctly interpreted.

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