Feeds

Twitter airport bomb joke conviction binned in common-sense WIN

Obviously, you must be having a laff, says High Court

Security for virtualized datacentres

A bloke found guilty of tweeting a "menacing" joke about blowing up a UK airport has had his conviction quashed by the High Court today. A collective sigh of relief was heard moments later from comedians addicted to the micro-blogging website.

Paul Chambers, 28, was waiting to fly from Doncaster's Robin Hood airport to Belfast to see his girlfriend, whom he met on the social networking site, when snow closed the airfield and delayed his flight.

He vented his frustration in a series of tweets to his squeeze Sarah Tonner, now his fiancee, including a suggestion that he had considered "resorting to terrorism" to ensure he could visit her.

A couple of hours later, he tweeted this notorious joke, which came to the attention of airport police five days later:

Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I am blowing the airport sky high!!

South Yorkshire police cuffed Chambers while he was at work seven days after he had posted the offending tweet. He was later convicted at a crown court in 2010 on the grounds that the message was considered "menacing per se", and so he launched a celebrity-backed series of appeals against the guilty verdict.

Mr Justice Owen and Mr Justice Griffith Williams said in the High Court today that the facts needed to be considered in context, pointing out that the tweets had clearly appeared to be a reference to the airport closing due to adverse weather conditions.

"There was no evidence before the Crown Court to suggest that any of the followers of the appellant’s 'tweet', or indeed anyone else who may have seen the 'tweet' posted on the appellant’s time line, found it to be of a menacing character or, at a time when the threat of terrorism is real, even minimally alarming," the High Court heard.

In its assessment of the case, the High Court judged that Chambers' appeal against his conviction should stand. The justices said:

The grievance addressed by the message is that the airport is closed when the writer wants it to be open. The language and punctuation are inconsistent with the writer intending it to be or to be taken as a serious warning.

Comedians, who naturally took to Twitter to celebrate, were delighted by the justices' sudden outbreak of common sense.

Chambers' High Court win can be viewed here [PDF]. ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
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
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
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.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.