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.
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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.