U.K. Man Can Appeal Conviction Over Tweet
The country's high court ruled that a Twitter comment from a man, who said he was joking when he said he would "blow the airport sky high," was not menacing.
LONDON -- Brit Paul Chambers, who was found guilty of sending a menacing tweet, has won his high court challenge against his conviction, according to the Guardian.
He had tweeted in frustration when he discovered that Robin Hood airport was closed by the snow. Eager to see his girlfriend, he sent out a tweet on the publicly accessible site declaring: "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!!"
He has always maintained that he did not believe anyone would take his "silly joke" seriously.
The lord chief justice, Lord Judge, sitting with Mr Justice Owen and Mr Justice Griffith Williams,said: "We have concluded that, on an objective assessment, the decision of the crown court that this 'tweet' constituted or included a message of a menacing character was not open to it.
"On this basis, the appeal against conviction must be allowed."
After the verdict, the MP Louise Mensch tweeted: "CPS owe my constituent @pauljchambers and the country a huge apology for a shameful prosecution that should never have been brought."
He was prosecuted under section 127(1) of the Communications Act 2003, which prohibits sending "by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character," the Guardian reported.
In May 2010, Chambers was convicted by the district judge Jonathan Bennett sitting at Doncaster magistrates court and fined £1000 ($1570). In November 2010, the crown court judge Jacqueline Davies, sitting with two magistrates, dismissed his appeal, saying that the electronic communication was "clearly menacing" and that airport staff were sufficiently concerned to report it.