Journalists 'trawled through' the social media accounts of Supreme Court justices' partners, children and grandchildren during the Article 50 case, its deputy president said today. Appearing before the House of Lords constitution committee, Lord Reed cautioned against judges being on social media, which would be 'so much more grist to their mill'.
Lord Reed and Lady Hale, president of the Supreme Court, were asked whether a social media presence, while being undesirable, was now unavoidable for judges.
Lord Reed told the committee: 'If you post on it a photo from a family wedding, and you're standing with a glass of champagne, smile on your face, you know how that will be used to illustrate a story.' Security was another factor to consider, he added: 'The more information you make available, the greater the risks you may run.'
Lady Hale acknowledged that social media was a 'good thing if it's used positively. But, on the other hand, if you as an individual engage, we are aware how difficult it is, if not impossible to control what you put out there. You have to be very, very careful not to put the wrong sort of information out there because you never know where it may get to.
'And also, the capacity for anonymous, and extremely hurtful comment to come along you know not where. "Well, you can shrug it off, can't you?" I think it's not that easy for people to shrug it off.'
Lady Hale stressed the importance of judges doing their job in accordance with their oaths. 'Social media could distort that if we paid too much attention to it.'
While the justices are not on social media personally, the Supreme Court has a Twitter account, with 251,000 followers, and its Instagram account is followed by 5,019 people.