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‘Right to Tweet’ could be extended after daily’s campaign

A review into extending automatic permission for Tweeting at courts to other public hearings such as tribunals has been launched following a regional daily’s campaign.

The Daily Post in Wales began its ‘Right to Tweet’ campaign earlier this year after journalists were told by Wrexham County Borough Council that they had to ask the chairman of each meeting for permission to use social media.

Then last month, one of its reporters was told he could not post messages live from an employment tribunal.

And when it happened again this week – with no explanation as to why – the paper approached the Judiciary of England and Wales directly.

The newspaper has since reported that the Judicial Communications Office is now reviewing whether the guidance for tweeting at courts needs to be extended to tribunals.

Journalists are allowed to Tweet from court proceedings without having to seek permission first following a ruling by the Lord Chief Justice in December 2011. However, this does not currently apply to all public hearings or meetings.

Reporters had been attempting to get permission to Tweet from the case of Gareth Jones, who was claiming unfair dismissal against Ysgol Tir Morfa Special School in Rhyl. But presiding judge John Hoult turned down the application.

It comes just days after the North Wales Fire Authority announced it was in talks with North Wales councils to agree a standard policy on the use of social media at meetings.

The aim is to have a standard protocol for the use of social media, such as Twitter, for journalists and people at public meetings across the region’s local authorities.

The Post’s campaign calls for all public bodies, including local authorities, to allow the use of social media at public meetings and hearings as a matter of course.

It has received the support of social media expert Christian Payne, who has worked with Reuters news agency as well as senior politicians including Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg on social media projects.

He told the Post: “Twitter is one of the great tools of the democratisation of media and communications. There have been countless cases where live blogging has got the information out to people as it happens.

“This is an easy way for public authorities to head down the road of giving open data to the public and allow the public to document what is going on as it happens.”