Feeds

Airport bomb Twitter joker in second fine appeal bid

Judges deliberating whether or not to quash conviction

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone
Protecting journalists alone won't protect their sources
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Apple's iPhone 6 first-day sales are MEANINGLESS, mutters analyst
Big weekend queues only represent fruity firm's supply
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Bill Gates, drugs and the internet: Top 10 Larry Ellison quotes
'I certainly never expected to become rich ... this is surreal'
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
EMC, HP blockbuster 'merger' shocker comes a cropper
Stand down, FTC... you can put your feet up for a bit
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.