Court-based tweeting and misuse of the internet is likely to increase the risk of mistrials and could lead to the end of the jury system, the lord chief justice Lord Judge has warned.
"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," he said.
“To allow court-based tweeting is likely to increase the potential for prejudicial material regarding a defendant or a witness to become available on the internet."
Lord Judge said that jurors may have to be warned that looking up their case on the internet could constitute contempt of court and suggested that sending text messages within court buildings should be banned.
“I have to be blunt about this, but in my view if the jury system is to survive as the system for a fair trial in which we all believe and support, the misuse of the internet by jurors must stop," he said. "I think we must spell this out to them yet more clearly."