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Social Networking Threatens UK Jury System

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge has stated that the British jury system may not survive if it is destabilised by social networking sites.

The judge has come down hard on social networking sites and the Internet, regarding trials in the UK, for a jury's accessibility to personal data and profiles of those in the stand.

He argues that widespread use of the web, with the likes of Facebook and Twitter by jurors is threatening to weaken the impartiality of British courts.

Jurors involved in some trials have been researching the case on the Internet, and drawing their own conclusions from external sources which can't be entirely reliable.

Lord Judge warned it was a possibility that jury members could be influenced by avalanches of tweets and Facebook groups organised by those campaigning in favour of a defendant.

According to the Press Association, Lord Judge stated: "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."

"We have to remember that tweets stay on the Internet and 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. We welcome advances in technology, provided that we are its masters and it is our tool and servant."

Lord Judge believes that for the jury system to continue honestly, jurors need to be warned about relying on hear 'say and abusing the Internet in relation to a trial.

He also proposed the idea of putting a ban on text messages being sent from inside court buildings.

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