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I'm going to blow up an airport


Sir Tokyo Sexwale

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Can't believe this hasn't been posted

 

absurd

 

The man convicted of "menace" for threatening to blow up an airport in a Twitter joke has lost his appeal.

 

Paul Chambers, a 27-year-old accountant whose online courtship with another user of the microblogging site led to the "foolish prank", had hoped that a crown court would dismiss his conviction and £1,000 fine without a full hearing.

 

But Judge Jacqueline Davies instead handed down a devastating finding at Doncaster which dismissed Chambers's appeal on every count. After reading out his comment from the site – "Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your s*** together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!" – she found that it contained menace and Chambers must have known that it might be taken seriously.

 

He was also saddled with a legal bill three times higher than his original £384 with £600 costs, as the court ordered him to pay a further £2,000 legal bill for the latest proceedings.

 

Chambers, who lost his financial manager's job after his arrest in January, sent the message to a contact called @crazycolours, a young woman from Northern Ireland who was among 650 people who regularly followed his 140-character tweets.

 

They had arranged to meet in Belfast and Chambers told an earlier hearing he was desperate and frustrated that heavy snow might close Robin Hood, near Doncaster, and ruin their plans.

 

He used Twitter's private service to joke with her late at night about hijacking a plane, noting wryly that its pilots might expect to be diverted to somewhere more exotic than Northern Ireland. But his facetious bomb threat was sent on the network's public system, allowing anyone to see it – including staff at Robin Hood.

 

Chambers's conviction this summer caused huge controversy both on Twitter itself and among civil liberties lawyers because of its implications for the cyberworld's freewheeling style. The Crown Prosecution Service caused controversy by using a law aimed against nuisance calls – originally to protect "female telephonists at the Post Office" in the 1930s – rather than specific bomb hoax legislation, which requires stronger evidence of intent.

 

Judge Davies refused a request by Ferguson to cut the sentence to an absolute or conditional discharge. She effectively branded Chambers a liar by calling his denials about realising the possible implications of the tweet incredible.

 

She told the court that he had been an "unimpressive witness" and said: "Anyone in this country in the present climate of terrorist threats, especially at airports, could not be unaware of the possible consequences."

 

She also described some of his earlier evidence as "self-serving" and cast doubt on his claims not to have kept up to date with current affairs through newspapers or TV. As for the tweet at the centre of the case, she called it "menacing in its content and obviously so. It could not be more clear. Any ordinary person reading this would see it in that way and be alarmed."

 

Chambers and @crazycolours, who now live together in Northern Ireland, left court disconsolately and will now meet their legal team to consider a further appeal. The cost will be weighed against clearing Chambers's name and the wider issues, which have caused an international debate on social networking sites.

 

Chambers said he was also aggrieved at the heavy-handed handling of his case, saying that he had been held for seven hours in a police cell. He said: "I wouldn't have minded if they had told me off for being stupid, which was clearly how they saw things really, but it wasn't like that."

 

The wider implications were fanned by news of a second arrest under the same "nuisance call" law of a Conservative councillor in Birmingham who posted a tweet crudely attacking the columnist Yasmin Alibhi-Brown. The post by Gareth Compton, now removed, reportedly said: "Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan't tell Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing, really."

 

Compton, who represents Erdington on Birmingham city council, apologised after his release on bail and said: "It was an ill-conceived attempt at humour. I apologise for any offence caused. It was wholly unintentional."

 

The tweet was criticised in the House of Commons by the Leader of the House, Sir George Young, who was asked to allow an emergency debate by Steve McCable, Labour MP for Selly Oak in Birmingham.

 

Young said: "Stoning to death is a barbarous form of punishment which the government, and I am sure every member of this House, deplores. I hope that no elected person will threaten any member of our society with that form of punishment."

 

 

#IAmSpartacus

 

love the reaction though

 

Twitter users angered by the conviction of a man who threatened to blow up an airport in a Twitter joke showed support for him in their thousands today, thumbing their noses at the law by republishing the words that landed him in trouble.

 

Paul Chambers, a 27-year-old accountant, yesterday lost his appeal against his conviction and £1,000 fine for a comment he made in jest when he was concerned that he might miss a flight to Belfast.

 

"Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your s*** together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!" he wrote in January.

 

Chambers was controversially prosecuted under a law aimed at nuisance calls – originally to protect "female telephonists at the Post Office" in the 1930s – rather than specific bomb hoax legislation, which requires stronger evidence of intent.

 

Civil liberties lawyers criticised his conviction, as did the Twitter community, which reacted with a vengeance to his failed appeal today.

 

Under the hashtag #IAmSpartacus – a reference to the film in which Spartacus's fellow gladiators show their solidarity with him by each proclaiming "I am Spartacus" – thousands of people have copied Chambers's original message.

 

As a result of the show of support for him, #IAmSpartacus was the most popular worldwide subject being referred to on Twitter at the time of writing.

 

Among those who have retweeted the message are the television presenter Davina McCall and comedians David Mitchell, Dave Gorman, Graham Linehan and Marcus Brigstocke.

 

The writer India Knight also joined in with a reference to the Conservative councillor Gareth Crompton, who was arrested yesterday under the same "nuisance call" law for reportedly tweeting: "Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death?"

 

Knight tweeted: "Actually I might call for Robin Hood airport to be stoned. Ha. Yes. #fearless #IAmSpartacus."

 

A number of people have also added a "twibbon" mocking the judgment to their profile pictures with the words "may be a joke" imposed over their profile pictures so it appears alongside their tweets.

 

The online campaign was started by @christt, who tweeted yesterday evening: "I think we should all tweet Paul Chambers' original joke, Spartacus style. Thousands of us. Would that work? #twitterjoketrial"

 

He then decided to take his own advice, publishing a word for word copy of Chambers's tweet.

 

Later, he wrote: "Feeling an unusual combo of pride, anger and fear, watching the #IAmSpartacus hashtag take flight. #twitterjoketrial"

 

The judge who rejected Chambers's appeal is unlikely to see the funny side of it, having dismissed his lawyers' arguments that he should not be punished for a "foolish prank".

 

Judge Jacqueline Davies called the tweet "menacing in its content and obviously so. It could not be more clear. Any ordinary person reading this would see it in that way and be alarmed".

 

She also ordered Chambers to pay a further £2,000 legal bill for the latest proceedings. Stephen Fry has already offered, through Twitter, to pay Chambers's fine.

 

Chambers lost his financial manager's job after his arrest in January. He sent his message to a contact called @crazycolours, a woman from Northern Ireland who was among 650 people who regularly followed his 140-character tweets.

 

He now lives with @crazycolours, and they are considering a further appeal against the verdict.

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This is properly disgraceful. This guy was an accountant and has been sacked from two jobs already, and most likely his career is permanently ended because of this stupid conviction. Imagine if everyone who made a daft joke on the internet was dragged in front of the courts. Beyond belief, this.

Edited by Des
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This is properly disgraceful. This guy was an accountant and has been sacked from two jobs already, and most likely his career is permanently ended because of this stupid conviction. Imagine if everyone who made a daft joke on the internet was dragged in front of the courts. Beyond belief, this.

Yeah - a criminal conviction and you get struck-off. The same for any profession - doctors, dentists, architects...

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Isn't this a case of technology overtaking the law, initialy it hits me as daft, but if he had phoned the comment i wouldn't be as forgiving, where does the line exist between private and public statments on things such as twitter.

Edited by Spion kop
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Isn't this a case of technology overtaking the law, initialy it hits me as daft, but if he had phoned the comment i wouldn't be as forgiving, where does the line exist between private and public statments on things such as twitter.

 

 

for f*** sake, a bit of common sense needs to be brought into it. phoning in a bomb warning is a bit different than making a joke about it for all to see the interweb.

 

using your logic practically every match going football fan in the country woould be arrested each week for singing songs about people/teams.

Edited by Gunga Din
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