Attorney general warns Twitter users could breach fair trial rules

Oliver Smith
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TWITTER and Facebook users are to be warned about the dangers of committing a contempt of court by commenting about ongoing court cases online.

Dominic Grieve, the attorney general, will publish court advisory notices which, up until now, were only provided to traditional print and broadcast media.

“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,” said Grieve.

“That is no longer the case, and is why I have decided to publish the advisories that I have previously only issued to the media.”

On average around five advisories are published a year, around cases such as the arrest of Christopher Jefferies.

This year the number has spiked to 10 advisories, the most ever issued, as the impact of social media is increasingly felt in the judicial system.

Social media services, such as Twitter, are increasingly bringing users into contact with English law, with a number of cases around libel, defamation and contempt of court this year.

Last week a man was sentenced to a 14 month suspended prison sentence for tweeting a photo purporting to be of James Bulger's killer as an adult, in breach of a worldwide court injunction.

The advisories will be published on the Attorney General’s Office section of the website and through the attorney general’s twitter feed, @AGO_UK.