Page last updated at 22:14 GMT, Saturday, 25 April 2009 23:14 UK

Magistrate resigns in Twitter row

Mr Molyneux argues the judicial system needs to embrace new technology

A magistrate has resigned from the bench following a complaint about his use of the Twitter network.

IT consultant Steve Molyneux, from Telford, Shropshire, posted messages on the social networking site about cases at the town's magistrates' court.

He said everything he reported on Twitter had already been said in open court and he had done nothing illegal.

Mr Molyneux said he had been making use of the latest technology to bring "transparency" to the judicial system.

The people who read the Twitter read the same thing in the newspaper that evening
Steve Molyneux
Former magistrate

Mr Molyneux, a magistrate for 16 years, said he chose to resign after an individual within the court system lodged a complaint.

"I think things have escalated out of control," he said.

"I was using the technology after hearing a remand case just to inform local people and others that follow me in my role of magistrate and didn't think I'd done anything wrong.

"I didn't prejudice a case, I didn't do anything like that."

'Seeing justice'

He later told BBC Radio Five Live that he accepted he had to be "careful of the language" he used, but did not accept he should not use the technology.

In fact, he argued, his feed was providing people with a service.

"I use it to communicate with the public. The people who read the Twitter read the same thing in the newspaper that evening.

"The fact [is] I used a piece of technology that allowed others [to know about the case outcome] that may not have read the local newspaper but were just as interested. I saw no harm in it."

He said he believed the judicial system needed to embrace technology to ensure transparency so that the public could see "justice has been done".

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