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Judge praises publisher’s court reporting in leaving speech

JudgeNortonA crown court judge has praised a local newspaper publisher’s commitment to court reporting before leaving to take up a new post.

Judge Heather Norton, left, commended the KM Group in a farewell speech to fellow judges, barristers and court staff at Canterbury Crown Court.

The group, which publishes the Kent Messenger and several other weekly titles, has two full-time reporters covering cases at Maidstone Crown Court and in Canterbury.

Judge Norton made her remarks to a packed courtroom before leaving to take up a new senior post at Reading Crown Court.

She said: “Having press reporters in court is hugely important. It is vitally important the public know what we do and why we do it.”

And she had a special word for the group’s court reporter Paul Hooper – known to staff as “Scoop”.

She said: “Paul doesn’t let much get in the way of a good story but he never let a good story get in the way of loyalty and decency, I know this personally.

“Thank you for the service you give to this court.”

Paul admitted he was touched by the judge’s words saying: “Judge Norton is  truly a class act, funny, witty and always supportive.

“She was the first judge I have ever seen who left the bench to talk to a victim of child sex, to reassure her. It was very moving.

“I was always able to talk to her if any issues came up involving court reports. I will miss her.”


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  • December 6, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    This makes a welcome change from the usual stories involving reporters and the courts!

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  • December 6, 2018 at 12:39 pm

    How decent and generous of the judge to take the trouble to laud the court coverage in her exit speech.
    And how wonderful it is that the Messenger still puts time and money into their court coverage.
    Many of the new breed of reporters think blanket coverage of criminal cases is old hat and irrelevant – but they’re wrong!

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  • December 6, 2018 at 3:48 pm

    well done KM Group. Covering courts regularly, fairly, safely and properly is time consuming. Some papers obviously prefer to wait for a press release from the police (with no mitigation or defence side).

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  • December 6, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    As a former court reporter this is very welcome. I remember being called out of retirement to cover a couple of court cases at a court I used to attend on many occasions to be greeted by the ushers and others I know as “blimey, a reporter, haven’t seen one of those for ages.” The local evening did not bother to attend as much as it used to because “we can’t spare the time” when what they meant was that there were so few reporters they weren’t let out of the newsroom.

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  • December 7, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    That made a heartening read. Good luck to her. It’s how things used to be. Unlikely that situation will return – just get worse probably.

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