IT has certainly been an interesting week to work for a newspaper in the north of England, with the forthcoming General Election seeing politicians from most parties campaigning on our patch, and titles across the region coming together to demand candidates sign up to a “manifesto for the north”.

The manifesto dominated the front of Thursday’s Northern Echo, with the wider collaboration between northern newspapers attracting attention in the national and local media. The front page proved particularly timely for us, as we knew the Prime Minister was due on Teesside that morning. Boris Johnson, never one to miss a photo opportunity, was keen to read all about it, and in the battle for North-East votes, happy to back the campaign. Mr Johnson says he is already committed to most of the aims, while Labour has pledged to move part of the Treasury to the north to “shift the centre of political gravity” away from London.

This enthusiasm for the north, and in particular the North-East, is great, and very long overdue. Whether it lasts after December 12 is another matter, but The Northern Echo, and I’m sure our fellow newspapers across the north, will make sure we hold the politicians to their promises.

PART of my job is to bang the drum for The Northern Echo and the work of our journalists. Covering court is not an easy job for a multitude of reasons. Many people involved in cases – usually the defendants – are unhappy with the details of the offences being reported, but there is a principal of open justice in this country for very good reason. This is a conversation I have had many times over the years with disgruntled callers, in person, and on social media.

Last week Bruce Unwin, who has been reporting from Durham Crown Court for longer than he would probably like me to mention, covered the ceremony at which Judge Christopher Prince handed over to successor Judge James Adkin after ten years as The Honorary Judicial Recorder of Durham. Bruce’s story in last Saturday’s edition mentioned Judge Prince’s thank-you to the media, specifically The Northern Echo, but it is worth sharing the full quote from the judge about the media’s role in the judicial process.

The Northern Echo:

He said: “Courts need the media. There’s no point passing a deterrence sentence if these cases are not reported. Bruce Unwin consistently spots those cases that need reporting, like my mantra (regarding police car pursuits) if you don’t stop you go to jail. He reports these every time. It saves lives and it stops people getting badly hurt.

“I want to thank The Northern Echo. We wanted to publicise a new approach to victims so that more victims of crime would come forward. The Northern Echo published the article we wanted and I know, because people told me, that they saw it and it allowed them to come forward.” He concluded: “Not to recognise the role of The Northern Echo and Bruce Unwin would be to fail to recognise an important member of the team.”

Next time I find myself explaining why we cover court, I think it will be easier to refer people to Judge Prince’s very welcome statement.