Twitter use is now allowed in courtrooms ruled a judge today, ending a debate started during last week’s trial of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
During Assange’s bail hearing last week, a judge gave journalists the OK to tweet live updates of proceedings. However at Assange’s second hearing, two days later, the judge banned those present from using Twitter.
Today, Lord Chief Justice Igor Judge said that he could see no problem with the use of “unobtrusive, hand held, virtually silent” equipment and that giving live text commentary was unlikely to interfere with the administration of justice.
The use of Twitter in courtrooms will, however, work on a case-by-case basis and users will have to seek the judge’s permission beforehand.
Twitter is still likely to be banned in criminal trials if there is a risk of influencing witnesses or jurors.
Judge said: “There is no statutory prohibition on the use of live text-based communications in open court.
“But before such use is permitted, the court must be satisfied that its use does not pose a danger of interference to the proper administration of justice in the individual case.”
The use of Twitter in courtrooms is also likely to be restricted to a limited number of users so that excessive mobile phone use doesn’t interfere with recording equipment.
The ruling comes after journalists covering the hearing of WikiLeaks boss Julian Assange asked to be allowed to tweet live updates from the courtroom.
For now this will be allowed, but the Twitter ruling is only an interim guidance and a permanent decision is yet to come.