Grieve ready to pursue Twitter users

By staff

The government could intervene in the ongoing Twitter debate by bringing contempt of court proceedings against users.

Attorney general Dominic Grieve said he was prepared to consider taking action against those who use the microblogging site to break injunctions.

It comes after a spate of revelations on Twitter, where the relative anonymity of users has prompted them to defy court injunctions protecting celebrities’ privacy.

Among the highest profile example is that of Ryan Giggs, who was identified as the footballer who had had an alleged affair with reality TV star Imogen Thomas by hundreds of Twitter users.

“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,” Mr Grieve told BBC Radio 4’s Law In Action programme.

“It is not something, however, I particularly want to do.”

Mr Grieve’s reluctance may be partly based on the difficulties involved in tackling so many twitterers.

“There are simply too many members of a diverse range of social media sites, many based overseas, to make enforcement against more than a token few individuals practical,” Quentin Bargate of City law firm Bargate Murray commented.

“Perhaps we should stop trying to kill the messenger and instead look at whether the message is the problem. In other words, how much of the information in question really needs to be kept confidential?”

Giggs’ lawyers are seeking to expose the identities of those involved by seeking a disclosure order.

Enforcement is normally the responsibility of those taking out the injunction in the first place.