Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Court Watcher? Tweet At Your Own Risk

The UK's Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, will begin warning Twitter users that they might be in contempt of court if they make prejudicial comments about pending or ongoing judicial proceedings and thus cause mistrials in those proceedings. The Attorney General noted that tweets that run afoul of legal rules are likely to be those sent out by non-attorneys. "Blogs and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook mean individuals can now reach thousands of people with a single tweet or post....In days gone by, it was only the mainstream media that had the opportunity to bring information relating to a court case to such a large group of people that it could put a court case at risk...That is no longer the case....".

The Attorney General said that he is not trying to limit people's freedom of speech. He points out, however, that several tweeters have already been gotten into trouble for revealing information that a court had ordered kept private, including Peaches Geldof,  the daughter of rock musician Bob Geldof, who revealed the names of the mothers of two infant victims of child abuse. 

More here from the Guardian. His website will give examples of what is and not permissible speech via social media sites. Additional coverage here from The Independent.

Attorney General Grieve also published (in February) a discussion of the problems raised by the growing conflicts between speech on the Internet and the right to a fair trial.

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