My last two blogs have involved contempt of court breaches in the reporting of John Terry trial and the Harry Redknapp trial. My specific point in those two cases was that newspapers were not giving enough thought as to which stories users can comment on online.
Now a Twitter user, and former colleague, has accused me of carrying out a contempt crusade and brought a new case to my attention. It involved an allegation that a Guardian reporter, Jamie Jackson had made two horrific breaches of the contempt of court act in the Harry Redknapp case.
1) He named a juror on Twitter
2) He tweeted details of a legal argument not put before the jury
The case has been referred to the Attorney General by the trial judge, Anthony Leonard QC who has also banned live-blogging and tweeting from court.
My only reaction, and it is currently one free from being contemptuous because Mr Jackson has not been arrested, is to ask: "How the hell can any journalist get something like this wrong?"
In this country the anonymity of the jury is sacrosanct. This is no technical breach, it is a law-smashing sledgehammer of a breach and the consequences could be wide-ranging in the extreme. Any journalist-in-training is told that contempt can carry a jail-term if serious enough and, as much as I wouldn't wish it on any journalist, this is the sort of breach the jail term may be reserved for.
As we all saw recently with The Guardian's live-blog of the new presenter of Countdown. That particular publication wants to get live coverage up on any and all given circumstances. But if you can't get the most basic law right then the chances of the judiciary continuing to give open access is limited to say the least.
We all make mistakes. As a deputy news editor I once let the name of a rape victim get past me on newsdesk - a mistake that still makes me shudder 11 years later - but in the live environs of Twitter with no sub to save you, then you have to step up and be absolutely sure of every word you produce.
The Daily Mail has reported on this fresh breach by The Guardian and you may remember that, much to the chagrin of The Daily Quail, the Daily Mail was on my Goodies list last week. It has adopted a particularly gleeful tone but hey - you give them the ammo and that is what they will do.
You may not agree with the Mail but technically they are often very good at what they do - hence my post last year querying several bad decisions they had made.