Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Prankster finally cleared over bomb threat on Twitter

Paul Chambers was fined over a tweet he sent after Robin Hood Airport was closed by snow in January 2010

A Twitter prankster who joked about blowing an airport “sky high” when his flight to Northern Ireland was delayed due to snow has won his challenge against conviction for sending a menacing tweet.

Paul Chambers (28), who was waiting to fly to Belfast to meet his girlfriend, said he sent the tweet as a joke to his 600 followers in a moment of frustration after Robin Hood Airport in South Yorkshire was closed by snow in January 2010.

It read: “Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your s*** together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!”

He made headlines across the world when he was prosecuted at Doncaster Magistrates’ Court under anti-terror laws for the online joke and fined £385 and ordered to pay £600 costs.

Things went from bad to worse for Mr Chambers when he moved to Northern Ireland to be with his girlfriend, only to be sacked from his temporary job at a local council after he told them about his conviction.

After a hearing at the High Court in London yesterday, his conviction was quashed.

Mr Chambers said: “I am relieved, vindicated — it is ridiculous it ever got this far. I want to thank everyone who has helped, including everyone on Twitter.”

He said that as a result of the prosecution, he had lost two jobs and had become “unemployable”.

“At the moment I'm just feeling relieved,” he added.

In the judgement, Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge said that the more one reflected on it, the clearer it became that the message did not represent a terrorist threat, or any other form of threat, but was a “conversation piece” for Mr Chambers' followers.

Mr Chambers’ first appeal against conviction was dismissed by a Crown Court judge in 2010.

Quotes

  • hat he said then: “Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your s*** together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!”
  • What he has said now: “Thanks so much to all of you. We couldn't have done this without you, we wouldn't have got close.”
  • “Just realise I've now lost my bad boy image. Such as it was. Damn.”

Celebrity supporters tweet their joy

By Deborah McAleese

Paul Chambers made headlines across the world and received backing from a huge army of celebrities and civil rights campaigners when he was prosecuted for sending the now notorious tweet.

Broadcaster Stephen Fry (right) —who stood alongside Mr Chambers during an earlier appeal hearing — took to Twitter to congratulate him and his legal team. Mr Fry welcomed the “complete vindication and victory” for Mr Chambers following the court ruling. The star, who is taking a break from the social networking site, wrote: “Pops head up quickly: complete vindication and victory for Paul Chambers in #Twitterjoketrial. Well done DavidAllenGreen and team. Bye!”

Fellow comedian Al Murray (below), who was in court for the ruling, tweeted: “In 100 years there will be an operetta about this — about how ridiculous we were at the start of the 21st century.

“ The judgment shows this should never have come to trial and has been a ... waste of money and time.”

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