Paul Chambers, the man who was arrested and convicted for joking on Twitter about blowing up Robin Hood Airport in South Yorkshire has finally been acquitted after two years of Kafkaesque madness.
To recap: Chambers had arrived at Robin Hood airport in South Yorkshire on 6 January 2010 hoping to fly to Belfast to meet his girlfriend, whom he had met on Twitter. On finding the airport closed by snow, he tweeted: “Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I am blowing the airport sky high!!” Nothing happened, Paul Chambers didn’t blow up the airport, however the message was read and reported to the police by an airport manager setting in motion a bizarre chain of events.
Paul Chambers, a trainee accountant, was arrested and convicted under section 127(1) of the Communications Act, 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”.
While this case was clear cut, recent death threats to celebrities such as British Olympic diver Tom Daley were investigated by the police, as the individual involved was making sustained and increasingly threatening comments.
Graham Linehan, writer of Father Ted and The IT Crowd and high profile supporter of Paul Chamber’s aquittal, has written a great article on the difference between free speech and illegal abuse: A few thoughts on the Tom Daley ‘Twitter troll’ incident
See our earlier blog post here: The twitter joke that ruined a life and makes the law look daft