Twitter joke trial returns to court

Wed, Jun 27, 2012, 01:00

A man found guilty of sending a menacing tweet had celebrity backing as he renewed his challenge against conviction today.

Paul Chambers was flanked by broadcaster Stephen Fry and comedian Al Murray as three judges, headed by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, started a review of his case at the High Court.

The accountant 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,

He 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 his “silly joke” seriously.

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!”

But, in November 2010, 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.

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.