Follow Us

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

Twitter jokester wins appeal for 'menacing' airport tweet

Free speech - and sense - finally prevails

Article comments

Cause célèbre Twitter defendant Paul Chambers has won an appeal against an almost farcical conviction for a tweeted ‘joke’ that authorities took literally as a threat to blow up a British airport.

"Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!,” Chambers, 28 tweeted to 600 followers in January 2010 after bad weather closed Robin Hood airport near Doncaster as he was trying to travel to Northern Ireland.

Unfortunately, the light-hearted tweet was noticed by a member of staff at the airport who informed the police, leading to his arrest at his place of work for authoring a communication of a “menacing nature.” 

Originally found guilty of threatening the airport in May 2010, Chambers, 28, was eventually fined £385 with around £2,600 in costs. He later lost his job and claimed that he had become unemployable as a result of the publicity.

After losing one appeal against conviction, on Friday Chief Justice Lord Judge, Mr Justice Owen and Mr Justice Griffith Williams took a different view.

"We have concluded that, on an objective assessment, the decision of the crown court that this 'tweet' constituted or included a message of a menacing character was not open to it. On this basis, the appeal against conviction must be allowed."

In short, the message was not menacing at all and should have been taken in context by the airport, the police, and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which now faces huge criticism for spending thousands of pounds on public money pursuing the case.

As well as being congratulated by several well-known public figures including actor Stephen Fry, Chambers was also backed by his constituency MP, Louise Mensch, who was in court to hear the judgment. Many supporters had backed the case on free speech grounds.

"The CPS owe the whole country an enormous apology for having wasted public money and put him through two and a half years of serious stress for what was a joke,” she said.

"When parliament returns we will be asking searching questions about why freedom of speech was trashed. There was nothing menacing about this message. It was completely obvious."

Chambers solicitor, David Allen Green, added:

"This shameful prosecution should never have been brought. For two and a half years the CPS have adopted a ridiculous position. There are very serious questions for the director of public prosecutions to answer in this case."



Share:

More from Techworld

More relevant IT news

Comments



Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:

PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.

Techworld White Papers

Choose – and Choose Wisely – the Right MSP for Your SMB

End users need a technology partner that provides transparency, enables productivity, delivers...

Download Whitepaper

10 Effective Habits of Indispensable IT Departments

It’s no secret that responsibilities are growing while budgets continue to shrink. Download this...

Download Whitepaper

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Information Archiving

Enterprise information archiving is contributing to organisational needs for e-discovery and...

Download Whitepaper

Advancing the state of virtualised backups

Dell Software’s vRanger is a veteran of the virtualisation specific backup market. It was the...

Download Whitepaper

Techworld UK - Technology - Business

Innovation, productivity, agility and profit

Watch this on demand webinar which explores IT innovation, managed print services and business agility.

Techworld Mobile Site

Access Techworld's content on the move

Get the latest news, product reviews and downloads on your mobile device with Techworld's mobile site.

Find out more...

From Wow to How : Making mobile and cloud work for you

On demand Biztech Briefing - Learn how to effectively deliver mobile work styles and cloud services together.

Watch now...

Site Map

* *