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Twitterati not beyond reach of the law, AG repeats

7 June 2011

Twitter users have been reminded they were not immune from suit if they used the micro-blogging website for breaking court orders.

“If you’re a tweeter and you’re susceptible to the jurisdiction of our national courts in England and Wales it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that you may find yourself being brought into court for contempt,” the Attorney General Dominic Grieve said, “and the fact that you’re doing it on Twitter doesn’t give you some blanket exemption.”

Grieve’s remarks on the BBC’s Law in Action this afternoon follow on from comments he made during the commons debate on 23 May in which Birmingham MP John Hemming named Ryan Giggs as the footballer at the centre of the row over the enforceability of so called super-injunctions.

A few minutes earlier John Whittingdale, Conservative MP for Maldon, had been pressing the Attorney General to be more specific about whether he would make a statement on the protection of parliamentary privilege following the report by Lord Neuberger the previous week on the enforcement of privacy injunctions.

“Does he agree that he would virtually have to live in an igloo not to know the identity of at least one premier league footballer who has obtained an injunction, and that the actions by thousands of people who posted details of it on Twitter are in danger of making the law look an ass?” Whittingdale had asked (Commons Hansard: urgent question on injunctions).

Grieve promised at the time that a joint parliamentary committee would be set up to examine the issue.

He added: “The courts have power to punish those who breach injunctions, and those who decide flagrantly to do so should bear that in mind when they embark on such a course.”

Reiterating his stance Grieve said this afternoon: “I will take action if I think that my intervention is necessary, in the public interest, will maintain the rule of law and is proportionate. It is however not something I particularly want to do.”

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