UK judge says internet might 'kill jury system'

UK judge wants to ban jurors from sharing confidential information on social networks

The UK's Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, has said that social media may well undermine the very basis of the rule of law in the UK.

Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, raised his concerns about the use of the internet by jurors in a lecture published this week.

In his opinion, rampant social networking amongst jurors and online sharing of confidential information is increasingly undermining jury trials.

Fair trials threatened?

England's top judge has said: "If the jury system is to survive as the system for a fair trial... the misuse of the internet by jurors must stop."

Lord Judge is the most senior judge in England and Wales. He claims Twitter and Facebook make it far too easy for campaigners to put pressure on jurors in a trial.

"We cannot accept that the use of the internet, or rather its misuse, should be acknowledged and treated as an ineradicable fact of life, or that a Nelsonian blind eye should be turned to it or the possibility that it is happening," said the Lord Chief Justice

He added: "We cannot stop people tweeting, but if jurors look at such material, the risks to the fairness of the trial will be very serious, and ultimately the openness of the trial process on which we all rely, would be damaged.

"If it is not addressed, the misuse of the internet represents a threat to the jury system which depends, and rightly depends, on evidence provided in court which the defendant can hear and if necessary challenge."

The Lord Chief Justice wants to see warnings that misuse of social networks by jurors could see them held in contempt of court.

The BBC's legal expert Clive Coleman, said: "This is the strongest and most detailed judicial consideration of the threat to the criminal justice system posed by jurors using modern technology.

"It raises major questions of how to police and stop internet use."

Via BBC News