Paul Chambers, the man found guilty of sending a ‘menacing tweet’ threatening to blow up Robin Hood airport over two years ago has finally had his conviction overturned. The message was a joke sent in anger at the airport’s closure due to extreme weather conditions in January 2010.
The case drew the attention of the media, as well as the users of Twitter, including celebrities such as Al Murray and Stephen Fry, who are prolific tweeters. An ‘I’m Spartacus’ campaign also spread across the micro-blogging network, with thousands of users posting the same message that originally landed Mr Chambers in court.
His original tweet 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!!”
Speaking of the latest ruling overturning the conviction from May 2010, Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, Mr Justice Owen and Mr Justice Griffith Williams, said:
“If the person or persons who receive or read it, (the message) or may reasonably be expected to receive, or read it, would brush it aside as a silly joke, or a joke in bad taste, or empty bombastic or ridiculous banter, then it would be a contradiction in terms to describe it as a message of a menacing character.”
It has taken a while for Mr Chambers to put this matter behind him, after his first appeal in November 2010 was dismissed by a Crown Court judge who said that the message was “clearly menacing”, given that airport staff were sufficiently alarmed to report it.
Stephen Fry, a long-time supporter of Mr Chambers’ case, tweeted that the ruling clearing him of the previous conviction was a “complete vindication and victory” for Mr Chambers.
The Crown Prosecution Service said it would not be appealing the judgement:
“Presenting our case allowed the High Court to hear both sides and reach a fully considered decision. We have noted and accepted the court’s reasoning.”