Monday 20 December 2010

Lord Chief Justice allows Twitter in court coverage

Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge (pictured), today issued guidance in which he said Twitter can be used to cover court proceedings at the discretion of the judge.

He said live text-based communication would be allowed as long as the judge believed it would not interfere with the administration of justice.

Lord Judge's ruling was prompted after journalists used Twitter at the bail hearing of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court to give live updates.

The interim guidance has immediate effect but a review will be conducted.

The interim guidance covers the use of mobile, e-mail and social media such as Twitter, and internet-enabled laptops.

Lord Justice Judge's ruling said: "The use of unobtrusive, hand held, virtually silent piece of modern equipment for the purposes of simultaneous reporting of proceedings to the outside world as they unfold in court is unlikely to interfere with the proper administration of justice."

The guidance says judges can authorise live reporting on a case-by-case basis, but warns that it could be dangerous in criminal trials where witnesses outside court may be influenced.

Recording sound or images during a court hearing is illegal, but sending electronic communications has not been.

  • Source: BBC News
  • Guardian Law has copy of interim guidance here.

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