7 Jun 2011

Twitter users warned of legal action over injunction row

Twitter users are warned they could face legal action if they breach privacy injunctions. The Attorney General says tweeters in England and Wales are not exempt from the law.

Twitter users are being warned of legal action over the injunction row. The website played a key role in exposing Ryan Giggs (Getty)

Twitter played a big part in exposing Ryan Giggs as the footballer who had taken out an injunction to block reports of an alleged affair with Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas.

The player was also named by an MP under the rules of parliamentary privilege. John Hemming said it was impractical to imprison the 75,000 people who had named Giggs on Twitter.

The micro-blogging site has also been used to reveal a host of other celebrities who have taken out so-called gagging orders to protect their privacy.

Read more: Should Twitter remove latest injunction tweets?

The Attorney General Dominic Grieve has now warned that people in England and Wales, who use Twitter to breach privacy injunctions, may face legal action.

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.”

Read more: Twitter makes privacy law unsustainable - Cameron

Alleged details of a number of injunctions have been anonymously posted on Twitter, and Giggs’ lawyers were taking legal action to discover the identity of those who named him.

People found to have deliberately breached court orders can be fined or even imprisoned for contempt of court.

In the 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”.