Twitter Joke Trial: Paul Chambers’ Case In Court

Paul Chambers was fined £385 and ordered to pay £600 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 reports The Huffington post.

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!”

Chambers launched an appeal against conviction at Doncaster magistrates court in front of Judge Jacqueline Davies and two lay magistrates. His legal counsel claimed the message was not menacing and Chambers had no intent to menace. Stephen Ferguson said it was “obviously facetious” and “a parody”. The court heard a senior airport official, Steve Armson, had “determined it was a non-credible threat” and the airport duty manager Sean Duffield said the impact after he found Chambers’ message was “operationally nothing. It had no impact”.

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.