The man at the centre of what is known as the ‘Twitter joke trial’, has won his High Court challenge against conviction.
Paul Chambers was found guilty of sending a menacing tweet, threatening to blow up Robin Hood airport. The result sparked outrage and created a ‘Spartacus effect‘ on the micro messaging site as supporters tweeted similar messages.
Paul Chambers’ woes started two years ago when frustration at bad weather and snow caused travel chaos and led him to joke, “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!!”.
A week later, he was arrested on terrorism charges and so began a saga where Chambers was charged and fined £1000 for his tweet. To make matters worse, he was also fired from two jobs as a result of the case.
No doubt today’s result will lift a weight from Chambers’ shoulders. Writing about the process in September 2010 he said, “it’s the scariest thing I’ve ever had to face“, not surprising given the pressure of a case like this, the surrounding fallout and online scrutiny.
27-year-old Chambers, originally from Doncaster, now lives in Northern Ireland. The case propelled him from one man with a short joke in a sea of tweets to a cause that made the public online consider how the UK manages the interpretation of speech on the Internet.
His update following the case today:
So… it’s been an alright day so far. In the scheme of things. I suppose.
— Paul Chambers (@pauljchambers) July 27, 2012
Definitely a better day for him, but some should ask if the case should ever have gone this far in the first place.