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December 18, 2010

Tweeting stopped by judge in Assange case

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by Darren Allan

The question of the usage of Twitter by those attending court hearings has again come to the forefront of the news this week, with the Julian Assange affair.

The appeal hearing over Assange’s bail took place yesterday at the High Court, and Mr Justice Ouseley said WikiLeaks’ supporters and journalists could not using the micro-blogging service to post minute-by-minute updates, the UK Press Association reports.

That’s a turnaround from earlier in the week when Assange appeared at the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court, where the judge decided that tweeting was acceptable, provided it didn’t interfere with the judicial process.

Previously, the Lord Chief Justice has criticised the use of social networks by jurors, stating that the practice is threatening to undermine the impartiality of British courts. Similar noises are being heard over in the US, and there could well come a day when tweeting could perhaps put you in contempt of court.

The other drawback of tweeting in court is that it could also be confusing should anyone on the stand be singing like a canary at the time.

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