The bail hearing of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has made legal history as the first case to allow live updates to be sent from the courtroom via microblogging site Twitter.
Although there is no specific rule banning the use of mobile phones in courtroom proceedings, pocketable handsets have to date been deemed unusable under the same legal reasoning that sees television cameras and recording equipment are prohibited.
Forgoing tradition, Howard Riddle, Chief Magistrate presiding over Assange’s bail hearing agreed to allow reports to tweet directly from the courtroom on the grounds that they did so “quietly” and “did not disturb” the court. Riddle’s decision follows recent remarks from the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge who asked: “If it is possible to file a story via email from a laptop in court, then why is Twitter any different?"
A number of reporters attending the Assange hearing made use of Riddle’s ruling with The Times journalist Alexi Mostrous sending the sub-140 character message “judge just gave me explicit permission to tweet proceedings if it’s quiet and doesn’t disturb anything. #wikileaks”.