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Call over Facebook and contempt rules

Call over Facebook and contempt rules

The Solicitor-General has said that contempt of court rules apply as much to Facebook and other social media as "talking over the garden fence".

Edward Garnier made the comment in the wake of Labour MP Chi Onwurah suggesting the law "was on the back foot" when it came to jurors using websites such as Facebook and Twitter, and must be updated.

Mr Garnier said he did not use Twitter or have a Facebook account, but added that the justice system must "rely on the good sense and public duty" of jurors when it came to misusing the internet.

He added: "The relationship between social media and the law of contempt, the principle and the issues, are exactly the same.

"The means of communicating may have evolved but the principles that we need to apply to ensure that the due administration of justice is not impeded or prejudiced remain the same… for talking over the garden fence as they do for exchanging information through modern internet and social media."

Last month, 40-year-old Joanne Fraill, from Manchester, was sent to jail for eight months after she admitted chatting with an acquitted defendant on Facebook.

Tory MP Anna Soubry, a former barrister, said judges always gave jurors strict instructions not to access information online about cases they were involved with.

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