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Joey Barton could become first tweeter accused of contempt

London, Sun, 05 Feb 2012 ANI

London, Feb 5 (ANI): Joey Barton, who is being investigated by the Attorney General about the John Terry racism case, could be accused of contempt over his tweets against the Chelsea skipper.


The Queens Park Rangers captain gave a robust view of the incident that led to Terry being accused of using racist language against Barton's teammate Anton Ferdinand last October.


The Football Association stripped Terry of the England captain's armband on Friday because his trial will not take place until after this summer's European Championship finals.


Barton claim on Twitter that while he does not believe the Chelsea captain is racist, he should have admitted his error and taken any punishment on the chin long ago.


He made very strong remarks about Terry's behaviour and the case - which he has since deleted.


Attorney General Dominic Grieve has the power to bring a criminal prosecution for contempt of court against Barton if he considers the comments would prejudice a fair trial.


If found guilty, an offender faces a maximum of two years in prison.


The tweets were brought to Grieve's attention by a BBC journalist on Saturday.


"If somebody brings something to our attention we look at it," the Daily Mail quoted a spokesman for the Attorney General a saying.


"There will now be a process but it must be remembered that each case is decided on its own facts," the spokesman said.


No contempt proceedings have ever been brought against a tweeter.


In the latest case Barton, who has more than a million followers on the social networking site and is renowned for his outspoken comments, questioned Terry's forthcoming defence.


Barton was on the pitch during the verbal exchange between Terry and Ferdinand, brother of established England defender Rio.


Barton could be called as a witness at the trial, which is scheduled to start on July 9 and will be heard by magistrates.


It is expected to last up to five days, with players from both Chelsea and QPR among the potential witnesses.


On Saturday night a senior legal source said that Barton's tweets would be less likely to risk serious prejudice of the trial because it will be heard without a jury.


Last year Grieve said that he accepted the danger posed to the administration of justice by many bloggers was minimal, but they should not underestimate the potential for a blog or tweet to go viral. (ANI)


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