‘Contempt of court’ happens when someone risks unfairly influencing a court case. It may stop somebody from getting a fair trial and can affect a trial’s outcome.
Contempt of court includes:
disobeying or ignoring a court order
taking photos or shouting out in court
refusing to answer the court’s questions if you are called as a witness
publicly commenting on a court case, for example on social media or online news articles
If you are found to be in contempt of court, you could go to prison for up to 2 years, get a fine, or both.
Publicly commenting on a court case
You might be in contempt of court if you speak publicly or post on social media.
For example, you should not:
say whether you think a person is guilty or innocent
refer to someone’s previous convictions
name someone the judge has allowed to be anonymous, even if you did not know this
name victims, witnesses and offenders under 18
name sex crime victims
share any evidence or facts about a case that the judge has said cannot be made public
Report contempt of court
If you have seen something that you think risks the fairness of a future or ongoing case, you can either:
email the Attorney General’s Office at Contempt.SharedMailbox@attorneygeneral.gov.uk
If you are reporting something you have seen online, include screenshots of the posts if you have them.
Additional information on contempt of court can be found on GOV.UK's website.