On Tuesday, the Home Secretary’s official government Twitter account posted a video from the National Crime Agency (NCA) showing a suspected People Smuggler being detained by authorities.

Alongside the video, Patel wrote:

“Excellent work by the NCA in Birmingham arresting another vile people smuggler.

“A suspected high-ranking member of a Vietnamese network trading in human lives via the backs of lorries.

“Around 50 investigations are ongoing as we work to wipe out the top tier of these networks.”

Priti Patel Vile People Smuggler Contempt of Court Deleted Tweet

However, as the suspect has not yet been convicted (let alone charged) of People Smuggling, a judge could easily consider Patel’s high-profile assumption to have jeopardised any prospect of them receiving a fair trial.

Immediately following Patel’s tweet, Media Law expert David Banks explained just how careless the Home Secretary’s actions could potentially be – and even tagged in the Attorney General to bring the matter to their attention – tweeting:

“Perhaps the Attorney General could lean across the Cabinet table and have a quiet word about contempt of court?

“He’s [the suspect] not a vile people smuggler unless and until a jury decide he is. If the Home Secretary can’t abide by the law, why should anyone else?”

Banks then when on to explain what the ramifications could potentially be, should the case make it to court:

“Far be it from me to tell the Priti Patel her job, but statements like this hand ammunition to defence counsel who could, quite reasonably, argue their client cannot possibly have a fair trial having been declared a vile people smuggler by no less than the Home Secretary.”

The Home Secretary’s tweet was deleted shortly after Banks posted his response.

However, Patel’s legal faux pas is not just a one-off.

The astonishing lapse came just months after Patel almost caused the trial of the men charged with causing the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants in a lorry in Essex to collapse.

In October last year, on the one-year anniversary of the tragic incident, Patel again assumed the guilt of the suspects – but this time whilst case which was still ongoing – tweeting:

“One year ago today, 39 people lost their lives in horrific circumstances at the hands of ruthless criminals.

“My thoughts remain with everyone who was affected by that day, particularly the loved ones of the people who so tragically died.”

The tweet was removed shortly after, with Patel insisting that she did not personally write it.

However, it was also later revealed that the Judge had to tell the jury to not pay attention to comments on social media made by politicians on the case.

At the time, Patel admitted that she had only removed the tweet because she had been “formally asked to remove it”- with many speculating that it was the Judge himself who had been forced to intervene.

In addition, Patel also attempted to throw her staff under the bus for the mistake – claiming that she wasn’t personally responsible for writing the tweet, stating:

“I didn’t personally write it, but I issued the tweet. Some of my tweets are written for me, and in that instance that was drafted for me … It was drawn to my attention at the time that obviously the case was ongoing and therefore the tweet should be removed.”

Neither the Home Secretary, the Attorney General, nor any member of Boris Johnson’s government have so far bothered to so much as comment on Patel’s latest potentially disastrous legal blunder.