Threatening tweet case to appear before UK High Court
The high-profile case of a man found guilty of sending a menacing tweet returns to court in Britain today.
Paul Chambers was fined £385 (€480) and ordered to pay £600 (€750) costs at Doncaster Magistrates’ Court in May 2010 after being convicted of sending “a message of a menacing character”, contrary to provisions of the 2003 Communications Act,
The 27-year-old accountant said he sent the tweet to his 600 followers in a moment of frustration after Robin Hood Airport in South Yorkshire was closed by snow in January 2010, and never thought anyone would take seriously his “silly joke”.
It read: “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!”
Crown court judge Jacqueline Davies, sitting with two magistrates, dismissed his appeal in November 2010, saying that the electronic communication was “clearly menacing” and that airport staff were sufficiently concerned to report it.
Mr Chambers, who lives in Northern Ireland, now wants three High Court judges to overturn the decision to uphold his conviction and sentence.
His lawyers have claimed he was the victim of a legal “steamroller” that threatened to make the law look silly and that the crown court erred in law, and in common sense.
Today’s hearing in London will be presided over by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, sitting with Mr Justice Owen and Mr Justice Griffith Williams.
Among Mr Chambers’ supporters are fellow Twitter users Charlie Brooker, Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross.