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Contempt of Court

Volume 573: debated on Tuesday 7 January 2014

6. What steps he is taking to promote awareness of the laws on contempt of court among users of social media. (901839)

The media and those who publish information on social media sites should always be alert to the requirements of the Contempt of Court Act 1981. In December I announced that in future, if appropriate to do so, advisory notices that I issue for specific cases will be published on the Government UK website and my office’s Twitter feed as well as being issued to mainstream media. These advisories will not take the form of general guidance, but there will also continue to be some information on contempt available on our website and this has been updated today. Providing advisory notices to the wider public on a case-by-case basis will, I hope, ensure greater awareness of the law of contempt and its applicability to both the mainstream media and users of social media and help prevent people from inadvertently committing a contempt of court.

I am grateful to the Attorney-General for that response. Do the Government plan to follow the Law Commission’s recent recommendations on contempt of court, which include the introduction of a new statutory offence for jurors who google extraneous information relating to their case?

I have read the Law Commission’s report and proposals with great interest, and I am taking them very seriously. They are an extremely important contribution to how we might be able to improve matters.