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Trainer slams judges as students barred from taking notes in court

Polly RipponA journalism trainer has hit out at judges after her students were barred from taking notes in court.

University of Sheffield lecturer Polly Rippon, pictured, has shared her frustration at recent instances of reporters in training being refused the right to take notes during hearings at Sheffield Crown Court.

In the most recent incident, Lizzie Coutts, a student of Polly’s, was told she could not take notes in the public gallery.

Lizzie subsequently complained about her experience on X.

She wrote: “Went to Sheffield Crown Court today to sit in on a case for my TV court report. I was told I couldn’t take notes in the public gallery as the judge wouldn’t allow it.

“How am I supposed to learn how to report court cases if I am not allowed to practice and take notes?

“Under criminal practice direction 1, journalists and members of the public can take notes during court cases. Why has this been forgotten about?”

The issue prompted Polly, who said it was the second time in a fortnight that this had happened, to complain to the court manager, who assured her it would be raised with the Recorder of Sheffield.

Polly, a former court reporter and night editor at the Sheffield Star, posted: “We are trying to teach journalism students how to report from the courts.

“How can they do this is they are banned from taking notes?

“These students have passed professional exams in media law and court reporting and know the law around what they can and can’t report. Immensely frustrating.”

She subsequently wrote: “Quick update, have spoken to court manager and shared the relevant practice direction and judgement. The matter will be raised with the Recorder of Sheffield.”

It is understood that the Recorder has now sent a reminder to all the judges that permission isn’t needed to take notes in court.