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Twitter joke martyr loses appeal

Chambers still stuffed by off-cuff non-threat

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Updated Paul Chambers, the Twitter joker turned misdemeanour conviction martyr, has lost his appeal against conviction for posting a tongue-in-cheek message "threatening" to blow Doncaster airport "sky high".

Chambers, 27, posted the bad taste Twitter update on 6 January, shortly before he was due to fly from the Yorkshire airport to Belfast to meet an online acquaintance, who became his girlfriend. Unusually severe snow forced the closure of Doncaster and other UK airports at the time, provoking Chambers into a fairly obviously hyperbolic rant via his @pauljchambers account.

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!

An off-duty manager at Doncaster's Robin Hood Airport spotted the message and decided to report it to police, even though the message was not treated as a real threat and had no effect on the running of the airport.

Chambers was questioned by police, charged, and later convicted for sending a threatening message, contrary to the Communications Act of 2003. He was fined £1,000 and gained a criminal record.

The whole incident cost Chambers his original job as a trainee accountant, and a second job a week before the initial hearing of his appeal back in September.

During the resumed hearing on Thursday, Judge Jacqueline Davies ruled that Chambers' original twitter update was "obviously menacing", contrary to defence arguments that the message was "facetious".

"The words in the message speak for themselves and they were sent at a time when the security threat to this country was substantial," Judge Davies said, The Guardian reports.

The appeal was rejected on all counts. Chambers was hit with an extra £2,000 in prosecution costs over the failed appeal in addition to the original £1,000 fine and costs.

Chambers' supporters include Graham Linehan, writer of The IT Crowd and Father Ted, lawyer Allen Green (@davidallengreen) and many ordinary Twitter users, who donated to help fund the appeal. ®

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