Stephen Fry lent his support to a man seeking a High Court ruling to overturn his conviction for sending a ‘joke’ tweet about blowing up an airport.
Paul Chambers had been found guilty of sending “a message of a menacing character” and fined £385 by Doncaster Magistrates’ Court in May 2010. Chambers was found to be in breach of the 2003 Communications Act after he sent out a message on Twitter to his 600 followers expressing his frustration after Robin Hood Airport in South Yorkshire was closed by snow in January 2010. The accountant expressed total surprise and bafflement saying he never thought that anyone would take his ”silly joke” seriously.
The message 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!”
His latest appeal was backed by comedian Al Murray and Twitter enthusiast Stephen Fry. In November 2010 Crown Court judge Jacqueline Davies dismissed Chambers’ appeal saying that the tweet had been “clearly menacing”.
Chambers’ barrister, John Cooper QC, argued that the tweet was obviously meant to be taken in jest, and that a conviction was the equivalent to the legal system using “a steamroller to crack a nut”.
In a bid to overturn the conviction John Cooper QC told Lord Judge, Mr Justice Owen and Mr Justice Griffith William that the message was intended only for Chambers’ followers rather than any broader audience and that the Act was intended by Parliament to apply to messages being broadcast to the “world at large”.
Opening a new bid to overturn his conviction and sentence, John Cooper QC told Lord Judge, Mr Justice Owen and Mr Justice Griffith Williams that the wrong legal tests had been applied.
He said that the message was sent on a timeline on the Twitter facility to Mr Chambers’s followers and not as a randomly searched for communication, and the relevant section of the Act was never intended by Parliament to deal with messages to the ”world at large”. The case continues.
Source: The Telegraph