Feeds

Airport bomb Twitter joker in second fine appeal bid

Judges deliberating whether or not to quash conviction

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Paul Chambers, the Twitter joker turned misdemeanour conviction martyr, returned to court on Wednesday to launch a second appeal against a conviction over a "threatening message" to blow Doncaster's Robin Hood Airport "sky high".

Chambers, 27, posted the notorious micro-blogging message in early January 2010 while the Yorkshire airport was closed during a cold snap and shortly before he was due to fly to Belfast to meet an online acquaintance, who since became his girlfriend. The trainee accountant ranted via his @pauljchambers account, which had around 600 followers at the time.

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!

The message was spotted during an unrelated search and reported by an off-duty member of staff at the airport to police. Even though the message was never taken as a threat, and no extra precautions were taken at Doncaster airport, charges were still brought against Chambers.

Chambers was subsequently convicted for sending a threatening message – which is an offence against the Communications Act of 2003 – fined £385 and ordered to pay £600 costs as well as getting himself lumbered with a criminal record.

The Twitter joke trial cost the unfortunate Chambers his original job as a trainee accountant as well as losing him a second job in the flurry of publicity just before his Crown court appeal last September. This appeal failed after Judge Jacqueline Davies decided that Chambers' original Twitter update was "obviously menacing", contrary to testimony from the defence that the message was "facetious".

The failed appeal left Chambers with an extra £2,000 in prosecution costs in addition to the original £1,000 fine and costs. Fortunately he wasn't left to bear that cost himself thanks to ordinary Twitter users and celebrities who donated to help fund a further appeal.

Chambers' supporters include Graham Linehan, writer of Father Ted, and comic Al Murray, who took part in a benefit gig on behalf of the Twitter martyr, as well as attending the High court in London to hear Chambers' appeal. Other supporters include lawyer David Allen Green (@davidallengreen) and Stephen Fry.

Ben Emmerson QC, appearing for Chambers, said the Crown Court's decision to uphold the original conviction was both legally incorrect, contrary to common sense and unworkable.

Around 4,000 re-tweeted Chambers' original message in an "I am Sparticus" show of solidarity but no action was taken against any of them

He told Lord Justice Gross and Mr Justice Irwin that the question before them was "whether this prosecution-conviction-sentence was a steam roller to crack a very small nut and whether it was a disproportionate response", the BBC reports.

The two senior judges retired to consider their ruling on the case which, when it comes, will become the definitive statement in English law on how to treat cases of this type in future. Judgments in the Court of Appeal on points of law set a binding precedent on lower courts, all Crown courts and magistrates' courts in England and Wales. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

Seattle children’s accelerates Citrix login times by 500% with cross-tier insight
Seattle Children’s is a leading research hospital with a large and growing Citrix XenDesktop deployment. See how they used ExtraHop to accelerate launch times.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.