Government legal adviser seeks evidence on 'trial by social media' fears

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The top legal adviser to the Government is calling for expert evidence on whether current laws protect against "trial by social media".

Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC is appealing for victims' groups, solicitors and judges to provide evidence of what effect social media has on criminal trials.

Examples of court orders and reporting restrictions being breached by such online posts are wanted by Mr Wright.

Mobile phones
A report is to address any potentially increased risks caused by social media use (Lauren Hurley/PA)

His office will compile a report following the so-called Call for Evidence, setting out whether changes need to be made to address any potentially increased risks caused by social media use.

He said: "Every defendant in this country is entitled to a fair trial where a verdict is delivered based on the evidence heard in court.

"Our contempt of court laws are designed to prevent trial by media, however are they able to protect against trials by social media?

"I am looking for expert evidence on whether the increasing influence and ubiquity of social media is having an impact on criminal trials and, if so, whether the criminal justice system has the tools it needs to manage that risk."

The Call for Evidence is open until December 8.