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Drunk Twitter and Facebook users to avoid trial over offensive posts

Drunk Twitter and Facebook users could avoid prosecution for offensive posts
New guidelines will see less prosecutions

New CPS guidelines will seek to cut the number of people who face prosecution over offensive social networking posts.

The new mandate, set out by the UK's Director of Public Prosecutions Kier Starmer said only those whose Twitter and Facebook posts that go beyond offensive will be brought to trial.

The CPS still wants people who make threats of violence, send out and retweet malicious messages, or breach court orders to face prosecution.

However, under the new interim guidelines, drunk social networkers who post offensive comments, but apologise and delete the comments after sobering up are likely to avoid action.

Protecting free speech and the law

The new guidelines, Mr Starmer said, aim to strike the right balance between free speech and ensuring posts stay within the law.

He said: "These interim guidelines are intended to strike the right balance between freedom of expression and the need to uphold the criminal law.

"The interim guidelines thus protect the individual from threats or targeted harassment while protecting the expression of unpopular or unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, or banter or humour, even if distasteful to some and painful to those subjected to it."

The new guidelines follow a number of recent high profile cases, including the arrest of a Twitter troll who mocked Olympic diver Tom Daley over the death of his father.

There was also the row over the picture of a burning poppy posted on Facebook.