Back in 2010, Chambers was frustrated that Robin Hood Airport in South Yorkshire was closed due to snow and tweeted the following message to his 600 followers. It read: “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!”
Five days after he posted it, it was seen by an airport employee who reported it. Chambers ended up in court and a magistrate fined him £385 and ordered to pay £600 in court costs, because his tweet was “clearly menacing” and that airport staff were concerned about it.
Today though, at the appeal, judges overturned that conviction saying that there was no evidence that any of Chambers’ followers found the message either menacing or alarming.
Chambers’ case made international news, primarily because the majority of people could see quite clearly that it was a joke and they couldn’t believe he was being taken to court over it.
Several celebrities, including funny men Stephen Fry and Al Murray were outspoken in their support for Chambers’ who they felt was treated incredibly unfairly.
After the conviction was quashed, Chambers said: “I am relieved, vindicated – it is ridiculous it ever got this far. I want to thank everyone who has helped, including everyone on Twitter.”
Comedian Al Murray said that the message was posted by someone using their own identity, it was an obvious joke and not sent in the context of terrorism. He said: “If that be the case, and I don’t mean to be flippant, John Betjeman would be concerned when he said ‘Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough’, or Shakespeare when he said ‘Let’s kill all the lawyers’.”
Stephen Fry welcomed the turnaround, calling it a “complete vindication and victory” for Chambers. He had previously stood beside Chambers at an earlier appeal.
The judges presiding over the appeal noted that there was no evidence to suggest that any of Chambers’ followers found it even slightly alarming, nor was there was there a reaction from the police to suggest they were worried about a threat from Chambers.
After the hearing, a relieved Chambers said: “It’s an important decision as far as social networks are concerned and as far as Twitter is concerned. It has established that there has to be an action that is menacing and is intended to be menacing. It’s a very big decision for people doing what human beings do – telling a joke sometimes, even if it’s a bad one.”
Thankfully it seems, it this case at least, common sense has finally prevailed…
(Via Daily Mail)