Celebrities in courtroom for Doncaster airport twitter case appeal

Paul Chambers
Paul Chambers
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A MAN found guilty of sending a menacing tweet about a Robin Hood Airport had celebrity backing as he renewed his challenge against conviction.

Paul Chambers was flanked by comedians Stephen Fry 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, living at Byram Court, Balby, at the time of the alleged offence, was fined £385 and ordered to pay £600 costs by Doncaster magistrates in 2010 after being convicted under the 2003 Communications Act of sending “a message of a menacing character”.

He said he sent the tweet in a moment of frustration after the airport was closed by snow, and never thought anyone would take his “silly joke” seriously. He tweeted he would blow the airport “sky high”.

An appeal to crown court was rejected, judge Jaqueline Davies saying the message was “clearly menacing” and airport staff were concerned enough to report it.

John Cooper yesterday QC told Lord Judge, Mr Justice Owen and Mr Justice Griffith Williams that the wrong legal tests had been applied. The message was sent on a timeline on Twitter to Mr Chambers’s followers, not as a randomly searched for communication, and the relevant section of the act was never intended by Parliament to deal with messages to the “world at large”.

The circumstances of the offence of a “menacing character” had a higher legal threshold than that of a “threatening character”. Not all threats were menaces, he said.

Also, the person sending the message must intend to threaten the person to whom the message was sent - in other words, it was a crime of specific intent.