An artist who specialises in illustrating court scenes for the media had a brush with legal history today when she was allowed to sketch inside an English courtroom during a hearing.
Contempt of court rules prevent photographs being taken during hearings and stop artists making illustrations for publication. They are only allowed to make notes during hearings and they have to draw outside.
But Supreme Court justices gave permission for Priscilla Coleman to draw inside the Supreme Court in London - the highest court in the UK - during an appeal hearing.
She is thought to be the first artist to be allowed to draw a picture intended for publication during a hearing in an English court since contempt rules came into force nearly 90 years ago.
The Supreme Court is the only court in England and Wales to be filmed. Cameras are fixed inside courtrooms and footage can be viewed on the internet, and justices decided that Mrs Coleman would be able to work without disturbing proceedings or affecting the case.
She sat in the front row of a public gallery and sketched five Supreme Court justices - including Supreme Court president Lord Neuberger and deputy president Lady Hale - plus lawyers in an appeal launched by a couple ordered to pay damages after refusing to allow two gay men to stay in a double room at their guesthouse.
Legislation which came into force in 1925 makes taking a photograph or making a sketch of a judge or a party in a case a contempt of court. Legislators feared that the administration of justice might be affected if photographers or artists made parties in cases feel pressured or uncomfortable.
But the Supreme Court - where hearings normally feature only lawyers and judges - was exempted from the legislation when set up in 2009 and is the only UK court to routinely provide footage to broadcasters.
A Supreme Court spokesman said cameras were fixed and unobtrusive and Mrs Coleman had, likewise, not disturbed proceedings.
He said justices had never allowed stills photographers or cameramen into hearings because of the disruption they might cause - although media organisations could take still photographs from provided footage.
American Mrs Coleman, who comes from Chilton, Texas, and trained at an art college near Houston, has worked in the UK for more than 25 years and her work regularly features in the media.
"I've never been allowed to draw in a court in England before," she said. "The rules are kind of weird. Lots of people are surprised when they realise that we're not allowed to draw for publication in court, only take notes - even reporters."
She added: "This was more accurate. When I use my memory I tend to swing things around and it's more of a dreamy image. This is more like reality."
Mrs Coleman drew in oil pastels with a 3ft by 2ft piece of artist's paper resting on her lap.
Her illustration showed barrister Robin Allen QC addressing the five Supreme Court justices - Lord Hughes, Lady Hale, Lord Neuberger, Lord Kerr and Lord Toulson.
It had to be taken outside the court to be photographed by a press photographer.
Guesthouse owners Peter Bull, 73, and his wife Hazelmary, 69, have asked the Supreme Court to decide whether their decision to refuse to let Martyn Hall and his civil partner Steven Preddy stay in a double room constituted sex discrimination under equality legislation.
Supreme Court justices reserved judgment today after a hearing which began yesterday.
The couple, who run a guesthouse in Marazion, Cornwall, have already lost fights in a county court and the Court of Appeal.
In 2011 a judge concluded that the Bulls acted unlawfully and ordered them to pay a total of £3,600 damages after a hearing at Bristol County Court.
In 2012 the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by the Bulls following a hearing in London.
The couple want the Supreme Court to overrule the Court of Appeal.