Airport International News - July 2012
Twitter Bomb Threat Author's Conviction is Voided
Posted by Victoria Knowles - Airport International Reporter on 27/07/2012 - 06:30:00
A man who tweeted a bomb threat in May 2010 has won a case against his conviction.
28-year-old Paul Chambers sent the alarming tweet threatening to blow up Robin Hood Airport in South Yorkshire, after being closed due to heavy snowfall.
In November 2010, the Crown Court judge asserted that the message was "clearly menacing", and dismissed his first appeal. Today, the hearing at the High Court in London voided his conviction. Mr Chambers said on his victory: "I am relieved, vindicated - it is ridiculous it ever got this far. I want to thank everyone who has helped, including everyone on Twitter."
Twitter Bomb Threat Conviction Lifted
The original twitter message had said: "Cr*p! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your s**t together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!" The tweet was written in frustration of the airport's inconvenient closure. Mr Chambers described the message as a "silly joke" and had not expected anyone to take it seriously.
The head of security at the airport found the tweet five days later, and staff were concerned enough to report it.
However, judges noted that none of Mr Chambers' 600 followers showed any response, not finding it even marginally alarming.
Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, Mr Justice Owen and Mr Justice Griffith Williams, said: "If the person or persons who receive or read it, (the message) or may reasonably be expected to receive, or read it, would brush it aside as a silly joke, or a joke in bad taste, or empty bombastic or ridiculous banter, then it would be a contradiction in terms to describe it as a message of a menacing character."
Mr Chambers was to pay £600 costs and a fine of £385 after being convicted at Doncaster Magistrates Court.
Robert Smith QC, for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), described Mr Chambers, a man of good character, to be "very foolish" for his actions.
Supporters of the case were comedians Stephen Fry and Al Murray. A tweet from Mr Fry later announced Mr Chambers' win as a "complete vindication and victory".
The Crown Prosecution Service is not appealing against the ruling. They said in a statement: "Presenting our case allowed the High Court to hear both sides and reach a fully considered decision. We have noted and accepted the court's reasoning."
Image copyright Dbertman - Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
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