Austin Lafferty, president of the Law Society of Scotland, will today tell MSPs of his support for television exposure for the justice system in order to make the system more accountable. He will say: "Television is already in Parliament, the highest place of public law-making and enforcement. It would be almost perverse if we said the courts are to be entirely different.
"Allowing cameras into courts will help in some way at least to break down the preconceptions the public have – partly through seeing fictional representations of court cases, often from the USA and England, and partly through plain lack of access to our courts."
His views will be backed by Alistair Bonnington, a solicitor advocate and a former honorary professor of law at Glasgow University and one time legal chief of the BBC.
In theory, television cameras have been permitted in Scottish courts since 1992, when Lord Hope – the then Lord President – ruled they should be allowed in, particularly for appeal and legal debates, which do not involve witness testimony.
However, since then there has been only a handful of instances where televising has actually been allowed.
In April, television film crews were allowed into Edinburgh High Court for the sentencing of David Gilroy, for murdering Suzanne Pilley. The camera mainly focused on Judge Lord Bracadale as he handed down a life sentence.
In 2002, permission was granted for the appeal of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, to be filmed at the Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands.
Earlier this month, UK Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke lifted a ban on filming in law courts allow- ing broadcasters to screen footage of judgments for the first time, as part of what the Government called an unprecedented plan to improve transparency.
Mr Bonnington said: "England is now in the process of overtaking Scotland in this area." He said that unlike in Scotland, English courts release court material, often including video, to the media during the trial once their purpose has been served in court to enable court reports to be more accurate and thorough.
He added: "The Scottish courts in contrast are unco-operative, almost invariably refusing media requests for material. This results in the Scottish public knowing less about court proceedings than people in England."
In his submission due today before MSPs who are discussing the role of the media in criminal trials, he further condemns suggestions put forward that historical articles and reports published online by newspapers may contain information which is potentially prejudicial to subsequent court proceedings and should be controlled.
Mr Bonnington said: "Any such attempt to restrict access by the public would potentially fall foul of Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights. The realities of the use of the internet in the modern world are such that if, at some future point, there is evidence-based serious concern about this, then juries should be abolished."
Moves to have greater courts accountability are further supported by Iain McKie, who began campaigning on justice issues because of the treatment of his former detective daughter, Shirley who was wrongly accused of being at a crime scene.
He is expected to say: "I believe the Scottish justice system is outdated and resistant to change. Its often restrictive approach to issues like freedom of information and disclosure does impact on the ability of the media to do its job and serves to incite the social media into often inaccurate and speculative reaction."