Created yesterday (6 February), the policy states that the @UKSupremecourt Twitter account is managed by the court’s communications team, and “if you follow this account, you can expect two to three tweets a week covering the cases, judgments, and corporate announcements of the Supreme Court”.
However, within hours of joining Twitter, the court’s policy was attracting controversy.
Publicservice.co.uk reports that the clause which states, “Sending messages to our Twitter feed will not be considered as contacting the Supreme Court for any official purpose (including the administration of cases or Freedom of Information requests)” is contrary to guidance issued last year by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that public bodies should accept Twitter requests under the Freedom of Information Act.
The ICO told Publicservice.co.uk that a failure by the Supreme Court to respond to such requests via Twitter would “certainly be grounds for complaining to us”.
The court’s policy also makes it clear that the communications team in charge of tweeting is bound by the Civil Service Code. That prohibits tweets “on issues of party politics”, and warns that “you should also be aware that the court cannot offer legal advice and we will not enter into discussion about published judgments”.