Wikileaks judge permits Twitter in court
A judge has granted permission for Twitter to be used in his courtroom, in what’s thought to be a legal first.
The decision was made by Judge Howard Riddle, who was yesterday hearing Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s application for bail at the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
Judge Riddle told the courtroom that people could post live updates from the hearing on Twitter, as long as it was “quiet and doesn’t disturb anything”, according to a report in The Times.
The misuse of the internet represents a threat to the jury system
Members of the press and public gallery routinely post updates from cases on Twitter, but this is believed to be the first time that a judge has openly given the practice his blessing.
Riddle’s decision seems to contradict a recent speech made by the Lord Chief Justice, who raised concerns about the use of the microblogging service in the courtroom. Lord Judge expressed fears that jurors could be influenced by reading courtroom tweets and raised concerns over the publication of prejudicial material.
“We cannot stop people tweeting, but if jurors look at such material the risks to the fairness of the trial will be serious,” Lord Judge said, according to a BBC report.
“We cannot accept that the use of the internet, or rather its misuse, should be acknowledged and treated as an ineradicable fact of life, or that a Nelsonian blind eye should be turned to it or the possibility that it is happening.
“If it is not addressed, the misuse of the internet represents a threat to the jury system which depends, and rightly depends, on evidence provided in court which the defendant can hear and if necessary challenge.”
Senior judiciary are reviewing the use of the internet in the courtroom, a spokesperson for the Judicial Communications Office told The Times.