Attorney General's contempt warning for Twitter users

Users of micro-blogging website Twitter who use the system to breach privacy injunctions could face legal action for contempt of court, Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC warned today.

Twitter played a key role in exposing footballer Ryan Giggs’s alleged affair with reality TV contestant Imogen Thomas, after an MP who named the player in the House of Commons argued that it was not possible to prosecute 75,000 of the site’s users who had named him.

Alleged details of a number of injunctions have been anonymously posted on Twitter, and Giggs’ lawyers were taking legal action to discover the identity of those who named him.

Grieve said today that Twitter users in England and Wales were not exempt from the requirement to observe privacy orders.

It would normally be for those who had taken out injunctions to initiate action to enforce them, said Grieve.

But he told the BBC Radio 4 Law In Action programme that he would take action himself if he thought it necessary to uphold the rule of law.

“I will take action if I think that my intervention is necessary in the public interest, to maintain the rule of law, proportionate and will achieve an end of upholding the rule of law,” he said.

“It is not something, however, I particularly want to do.”

People found deliberately to have breached court orders can be fined or even imprisoned for contempt of court.

In the Commons two weeks ago, Grieve warned people who thought they could use modern methods of communication to “act with impunity” that they might well find themselves in for “a rude shock”.

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