Users of Twitter could face legal action for contempt of court if they use the micro-blogging website to breach privacy injunctions, the UK's Attorney General warned today.
Twitter played a key role in the exposure of footballer Ryan Giggs’s alleged affair with reality TV contestant Imogen Thomas, after an MP argued in the House of Commons that it was not possible to prosecute 75,000 of the site’s users who had named him.
Alleged details of a number of injunctions have been anonymously posted on Twitter, and Giggs’s lawyers were taking legal action to discover the identity of those who named him.
British Attorney General Dominic Grieve said today that Twitter users in England and Wales were not exempt from the requirement to observe privacy orders.
It would normally be for those who had taken out injunctions to initiate action to enforce them, said Mr Grieve.
But he told BBC Radio 4’s Law In Action that he would take action himself if he thought it necessary to uphold the rule of law.
Mr Grieve said: “I will take action if I think that my intervention is necessary in the public interest, to maintain the rule of law, proportionate and will achieve an end of upholding the rule of law. It is not something, however, I particularly want to do.”
People found to have deliberately breached court orders can be fined or even imprisoned for contempt of court.
In the British House of Commons two weeks ago, Mr Grieve warned people who thought they could use modern methods of communication to “act with impunity” that they might well find themselves in for “a rude shock”.