Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

‘Horrible’ ordeal of man sacked twice over Twitter joke

Civil liberties campaigners have hit out after a Northern Ireland council sacked a Twitter prankster who joked about blowing an airport “sky high”.

Earlier this year Paul Chambers from Doncaster made headlines across the world when he was prosecuted under anti-terror laws for the online joke after his flight to Northern Ireland was delayed due to snow.

Mr Chambers has since moved to Northern Ireland and had taken up temporary employment with a local council.

He told his council employers last week how his appeal against his criminal conviction for sending a menacing electronic communication was due to take place at Doncaster Crown Court this week, to give them prior warning his name would be in the papers.

But instead of being given time-off to attend the hearing, he was dismissed.

It scuppers Mr Chambers’ plans to put his Twitter hell behind him and make a fresh start with his Northern Ireland girlfriend who he had been trying to visit when he vented his frustration on Twitter at his flight being cancelled.

It is understood Mr Chambers was an agency worker at the council before his dream of a new start was brought to an abrupt end.

It is a devastating double blow for the trainee accountant as it is the second time he has been sacked over his Twitter threat.

Things have gone from bad to worse since a judge found Mr Chambers guilty of sending a menacing electronic communication in July.

After his court conviction he was given the boot by the car distribution firm in Sandtof where he worked as a finance supervisor, after his managers heard the police call him a “terrorist”.

Being fired for a second time in less than a year also comes as Mr Chambers faces a court battle to clear his name on Friday.

Barbara Muldoon, of Belfast human rights law firm Padraigin Drinan, hit out at council chiefs for not giving Mr Chambers the chance to explain the conviction.

She said: “This is horrible. I’d understand that they don’t want someone with a criminal conviction working for them but the council should have given him a chance to explain himself. Ultimately, the issue is the conviction itself which is a complete abandonment of common sense.

“The reality of what we are seeing is the destruction of someone’s life. How can this guy go and get another job with any confidence? He will always be haunted that his employer will find out and give him the shove.”

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