Joanne Fraill
Joanne Fraill

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Joanne Fraill

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Joanne Fraill

Computer problem (s)

Joanne Fraill

Joanne Fraill and Jamie Sewart are the first two people to be prosecuted for contempt of Court involving the internet

Joanne Fraill
First published 18-06-2011
In a recent article "Super Injunction Problem", I highlighted the problem that the Courts have in controlling social media and the internet.
The Courts gagged the 'regulated' media with their Super Injunction whilst anonymous Twitter users published the details that the Court had ordered should remain private.
Since that article, we have seen a Californian court force Twitter to reveal the personal details of a South Tyneside Councillor who is accused of libelling the local authority through a series of anonymous Twitter accounts.
It is believed that this is the first time that Twitter has given in to legal pressure of this kind. Could this be the start of the end for anonymous free speech on the internet ?
If anyone is in any doubt, I ask them to consider the case of Joanne Fraill who has just been told by three senior UK Judges that she is facing imprisonment when they sentence her this week.
Joanne Fraill and Jamie Sewart are the first two people to be prosecuted for contempt of Court involving the internet.
Joanne Fraill was a Juror in the third of a series of trials of a drugs trafficking gang that has cost the UK Tax payer somewhere in the region of £6 million. She, along with the rest of the Jury, was ordered not to discuss the trial with anyone outside the Jury room, but despite receiving this warning, she decided to use the Facebook social networking website to see if she could track down one of the defendants in the trial.
She was able to make contact with Jamie Sewart (one of the defendants) and using anonymous names, they discussed various aspects of the trial online.
Joanne Fraill later admitted using Google to do some research about another of the defendants in the trial, again, despite the Jury being warned by the Judge that they must make their decision based on the evidence that is presented to the Court and nothing else.
Before the emergence of the internet, when trial Judges warned the Jurors not to discuss the trial with anyone, they could be fairly confident that the majority of them wouldn't but, nowadays, with search engines like Google and social networking websites, there is a temptation for a Juror to do some of their own 'research' on the internet and the possibility that their judgement will be tainted by what they find.
It may take some time yet, but the Law, the Courts and the Judges will eventually bring the internet under some sort of control.
The defendants, despite being acquitted following the trial in question, may now face a further trial because of the actions of "Joanne Fraill" and in these time of austerity, the Tax payer may now face a further bill for another expensive Court case.
The Solicitors and Barristers must just love the internet: ka-ching !
Joanne Fraill
Joanne Fraill
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