Feeds

Journos can tweet from UK courts: But who's a journo?

If you aren't a hack, you have to ask

Boost IT visibility and business value

Journalists will be able to tweet freely from courts says new guidance from the UK Judiciary, but members of the public will still have to ask the judge's permission to be able to use Twitter in a court-room.

Before yesterday, journalists had to be licensed before tweeting the proceedings of a trial. Now they can "Twitter as much [they] wish" as the Lord Chief Justice announced yesterday.

Tweeting is only allowed from court cases that are public, and are under no reporting restrictions - ruling out some Family and Criminal cases for example. Photography is still strictly banned. In what may be fiddly to enforce the guidance states that: "Any equipment which has photographic capability must not have that function activated". Sound recordings are also prohibited.

Those not tweeting or using their phone for "live text-based communication" have to turn their phone off. Texting, personal emails and phone calls are still strictly prohibited. And if too many people are tweeting and it's interfering with the court's own equipment, the judge may limit the number of devices allowed in court.

A member of the public can get permission to tweet by asking court staff to pass on their request the judge. The judge will make the decision based on whether the application may interfere with the proper administration of justice, the guidance states.

What is a journalist?

The guidance document offers no information on what the courts consider to be the distinguishing features of a journalist. Does the work experience kid on the local newspaper count? Student journos? Local bloggers? We have asked for some official clarification.

In the meantime, The Register understands that the new guidance is intended to increase the reporting of court cases in accordance with the principle of open justice. We understand that who is reading the tweet-reports would be relevant. If in doubt, the would-be tweeter should make a request to the judge.

Laws on contempt of court will be applied to the tweets as they would be to articles published about the proceedings regardless of whether the tweeter is a journalist or member or the public.

The use of social media in law courts is a hot area. A juror was recently jailed for 8 months for Facebooking an acquitted defendant in a case in June - and a furore over Twitter users breaking privacy super-injunctions drove the Attorney General to threaten tweeters with lawsuits. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.