You are here

Lord Judge launches Twitter consultation

7 February 2011

Only the press could be allowed to tweet live from court under proposals unveiled by the Lord Chief Justice today.

In the “consultation on the use of live, text-based forms of communications from court for the purposes of fair and accurate reporting” Lord Judge envisages that journalists could be authorised to use Twitter, email or text messages to report live from court subject to certain conditions.

One main prerequisite would be to engage in “fair and accurate” reporting – a requirement that would exclude ordinary members of the public.

Premised on the “immense public interest” in the public being able to know the details of what takes place in the courts, the consultation also acknowledges developments in technology have broken down the barrier between the courts and the world outside court.

“Technology has developed which removes the need to leave the courtroom to file copy,” it says, with internet access available to laptops and smartphones inside the courtroom without a need for a dedicated wireless point.

But the consultation also highlights risks posed by internet reporting, where news is not generated solely by journalists and where “the potential of misuse of the internet by jurors” was “a significant factor”.

“Technological advances in reporting, based upon the ever-widening platform of the internet, will inevitably serve to fuel the potential for prejudicial, unfair and inadmissible material to be seen on the internet by jurors. This consideration cannot be ignored,” the consultation says.

Last week Lord Phillips authorised lawyers, journalists and members of the public to use Twitter and other live text-based communications during Supreme Court hearings, saying that "by the time a case reaches the Supreme Court there is very seldom any reason for any degree of confidentiality".

The consultation follows the interim guidance issued on 20 December which has restricted tweeting to journalists and runs until 4 May 2011.

Categorised in:

Procedures Funding