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Cameras allowed back into courts century after Dr Crippen and his Norfolk mistress

PUBLISHED: 10:21 19 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:21 19 January 2020

Pictures of Dr Hawley Crippen with Ethel Le Neve, his alleged accomplicce, during their trial for murder pave the way for a ban on courtroom cameras. Picture: PA

Pictures of Dr Hawley Crippen with Ethel Le Neve, his alleged accomplicce, during their trial for murder pave the way for a ban on courtroom cameras. Picture: PA

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Cameras are to be allowed to capture courtroom drama over a century after they were banned following a trial involving a notorious murderer and a woman from Norfolk.

Norwich Crown Court. Judges' sentencing remarks in high-profile criminal cases will be broadcast under new legislation. Picture: Jamie HoneywoodNorwich Crown Court. Judges' sentencing remarks in high-profile criminal cases will be broadcast under new legislation. Picture: Jamie Honeywood

The case of the infamous Dr Crippen in 1910 at the Old Bailey in London, paved the way for the law banning cameras in court.

A series of snatched photographs of the American homeopathic doctor in the dock alongside his mistress Ethel Le Neve, who grew up in Diss, were splashed in newspapers, infuriating judiciary and politicians.

A disguised Dr Hawley Crippen arriving back in England in August 1910  led from the liner SS Megantic escorted by Inspector Dew following his trans-Atlantic arrest. Picture: PAA disguised Dr Hawley Crippen arriving back in England in August 1910 led from the liner SS Megantic escorted by Inspector Dew following his trans-Atlantic arrest. Picture: PA

Following his conviction for the murder of his wife, parliament passed a law banning photographs during trials. A similar ban on courtroom sketches was later relaxed.

Now more than a century on cameras are set to be allowed back into courtrooms later this year.

Dr Hawley Crippen and Ethel Le Neve in the dock in picture caprured in the Old Bailey in 1910 by Arthur Bennet. Picture: Wellcome LibraryDr Hawley Crippen and Ethel Le Neve in the dock in picture caprured in the Old Bailey in 1910 by Arthur Bennet. Picture: Wellcome Library

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New legislation will allow judges' sentencing remarks in high-profile criminal cases, including murders, rapes and other serious offences, to be seen and heard by TV and online audiences, the Ministry of Justice has said.

The Diss cottage Ethel Le Neve, who grew up on Victoria Road and went on to become the mistress of the infamous Dr Crippen, as it was and how it looks today. Picture: Helen PotterThe Diss cottage Ethel Le Neve, who grew up on Victoria Road and went on to become the mistress of the infamous Dr Crippen, as it was and how it looks today. Picture: Helen Potter

The filming at Crown Courts will be restricted to the judge's sentencing, with victims, witnesses, jurors and court staff not caught on camera. The public will be able to watch online, but there will be a 10-second delay to live broadcasts to prevent disturbances or protests from being aired.

Ethel Le Neve, who grew up in a small cottage on Victoria Road in Diss, was 27 when she made headlines around the world when she was caught disguised as a boy on a boat to America with her murderer lover, Dr Crippen, following the discovery of his wife's body in a north London basement.

In her memoir, Ethel Le Neve: Her Life Story, she said: "Until I was seven, I lived at Diss, in Norfolk, my native place. There, I remember, I distinguished myself by my tomboy pranks. Little did I imagine then that I was fitting myself to play the part of a boy in real life."

She later moved to London and became a typist, where she first made contact with Hawley Crippen as his employee. However, over time their relationship deepened.

Dr Crippen was found guilty in just 27 minutes and was hanged on November 23, 1910 in Pentonville Prison. Le Neve was acquitted and later settled in Croydon and starting a family under another name. She died aged 84 in 1967.


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