Notes-Thursday 13th October on Social Media and the Court Systems

Recap of the Implications of Leveson

  • Newspaper (News of the World) got shut down by Rupert Murdoch.
  • IPSO – requires the media to regulate itself
    • Criticised because it’s the same as it was before.
  • Impress later this month is going forward as a new regulatory body.
    • wants to be the body that is recognised by Royal Charter
    • newspapers are sceptical and are seeing it as a threat to freedom of the press

There are papers that regulate itself – the Guardian, for example, are not members of IPSO.

Social Media and the Court System

Ryan Giggs and Imogen Thomas – 2011

A Scottish paper published a picture of Ryan Giggs, but in the eyes of the law, it was still illegal, even though it was on social media. Giggs was then identified in House of Commons, therefore the papers were covered by Absolute Privilege. This means that the press had the right to publish anything that is said in parliament without contempt of the court. In conclusion, papers and press can not be prosecuted. it was said that Imogen Thomas was blackmailing Ryan that’s why he wanted anonymity.

This case resulted in a clampdown on Twitter and other platforms. If a super injunction is in place, you are contempt if you discuss it on social media. Criminal prosecutions could arise if you break an injunction.

Sally Burke 

On Newsnight – an unnamed politician was outed as a paedophile. Sally Burke (wife of tory MP) tweeted ‘why is Lord McAlpine trending’, she outed that it was him and was in contempt of court. She was fined.

Anyone that retweeted her tweet, and had more than 500 followers, they were pursued by Lord McAlpine’s legal team. users with less than 500 followers could settle the matter by paying £25 to Children in Need.

Robin Hood Airport Tweet

Someone sent a tweet on social media as a joke and was fined £385. The joke tweet threatened to blow up the airport. Stephen Fry offered to pay the cost of the fine and court costs.

Social media and Court Reporting

First landmark case – Inquest to London Bombings. Journalists tweeted key quotes and lines. Digital versions of a pub conversation.

Stephen Laurence trail– Interest on twitter was phenomenal. reporters do not need permission to tweet from court, however, judges can still ban from tweeting.

Dangers of tweeting from court

  • Prejudice the case.
  • Needs to be accurate and balanced – You need to tweet all day.
  • Getting it wrong factually – Example, tweeting the name of a juror.
  • If you paraphrase, do not change the meaning of it. Do it responsibly and carefully. Do not make it more of less severe.
  • If a follower asks for more information from a tweet, you do not respond and do not enter dialogue.
‘Do Not Tweet in Haste and Regret in Leisure’
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