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Attorney General threatens Twitter injunction-busters

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The government's chief legal adviser has warned that people who breach privacy injunctions by publishing details on micro-blogging site Twitter and other websites could be prosecuted for contempt of court.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve told the BBC's Radio 4 programme, Law in Action, that he would consider taking direct action against individuals who flouted the privacy orders online.

Normally such a breach of orders made in civil cases in England and Wales need to be addressed by the claimants concerned.

They can seek to have individuals punished for breaking the terms of a privacy injunction, as in the recent media storm surrounding Manchester United footballer Ryan Giggs.

The football star began legal proceedings against Twitter just days before Lib Dem MP John Hemming used parliamentary privilege to out the sportsman's injunction, which Giggs had used in an effort to suppress details of an alleged affair with an ex-Big Brother contestant.

Grieve said this morning that he would consider undertaking contempt proceedings against those who breach such orders, including Twitter users and newspapers.

"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. And the fact that you're doing it on Twitter doesn’t give you some blanket exemption," he said.

"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.

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

Those found guilty of contempt for breaching court orders usually face fines and sometimes a stint in prison. ®

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