Jeremy Hunt ordered to delete 'highly inappropriate' tweet over manslaughter trial of Frances Cappuccini

'It could be regarded as a contempt of court', says judge

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The Independent Online

Jeremy Hunt was ordered to delete  a "highly inappropriate" tweet he sent during the manslaughter trial of a woman who died hours after having a C-section.

The Conservative minister posted a link to a news report of the case along with the comment it was a "tragic case from which huge lessons must be learned" on only the second day of the trial.

It prompted the judge to bemoan that there are "no professional lawyers" in the House of Commons and to order that it be removed immediately.

Anaesthetist Errol Cornish and the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, which runs Tunbridge Wells Hospital where Frances Cappuccini died, denied charges of gross negligence manslaughter and corporate manslaughter respectively at the time.

Jurors are routinely asked not to read media reports or conduct their own research as they are sworn in and at the end of each day, but Mr Hunt was ordered to delete the tweet after it was brought to Mr Justice Coulson's attention.

Mr Justice Coulson directed it be taken down on January 14 and put a temporary ban on reporting its existence, telling the court: "The trouble is there are no lawyers left in the House of Commons. There are no professional lawyers.

"It is highly inappropriate for anybody to pass comment which might be said to know the result of a trial before that result is known.

"I suppose, potentially, in a very serious case, it could be regarded as a contempt of court. I would hope that everybody would know that. Sadly, these days, many people in public life don't know that.

"I think it's right that there be no future comment about possible results in this case until it is known. That includes the tweet from the present Health Secretary that I've been shown this morning. I would direct that the tweet be taken down.

"These days it is hard to have the word 'tweet' without 'ill-advised' before it."