Use of Twitter has been banned from the tax evasion trial of Harry Redknapp after a journalist named a juror on the social networking site.
The same reporter, who is understood to be a staff journalist with Guardian News and Media, is believed to have also reported the evidence of a witness given under oath when the jury was not present.
Both breaches have resulted in the judge banning the use of Twitter and ‘live text’ at the trial and referring the case to the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve.
The Judicial Office has urged reporters to “speak to their newspaper or broadcaster’s legal departments if they are in any doubt about what can and cannot be reported”.
The judge has now issued a new note to press and public: “Neither the press nor the public may ‘tweet’ whilst they are in court. There is a Contempt of Court Order still in place. If anyone is unsure of the extent to which there are restrictions on reporting, this can be raised with the judge by way of a note sent to the clerk of the court.”
At the outset of the trial the following guidance note was issued by the judge:
“Members of the press, but not the public may ‘tweet’ whilst they are in court. This must be carried out silently and without distracting the jury.
“‘Tweets’, wherever they are sent from, should relate to factual matters only, by way of example, reporting what has been said in court or what stage the trial has reached.
“‘Tweets’ should not contain the reporter’s comments on the evidence, by way of example, ‘the witness is buckling under cross-examination’ or ‘the jury does not seem to be impressed by this evidence’. Such comments undermine the defendants’ right to receive a fair trial.”
In December the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, confirmed that journalists no longer need to need to make applications to a judge to tweet from court,
But the new guidance also stated that the judge ‘always retains full discretion to prohibit live, text based communications from court, in the interests of justice”.
The ‘paramount question’for the judge was whether it could interfere with the administration of justice.
Anyone tweeting from court is also bound by court reporting restriction under the Contempt of Court Act 1981.
GNM declined to comment.
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