Stephen Fry vows: I’ll go to prison for Twitter joke man
One of the UK’s leading comedians says he is willing to go to jail for a man who joked about blowing up an airport on Twitter.
Paul Chambers is appealing for a second time after he was convicted of publishing a menacing message on the social networking site.
Chambers, a 27-year-old former accountant, was convicted and fined £1,000 for a “foolish prank” when he was concerned that he might miss a flight to Belfast from England.
The trip from his local airport in January 2010 was threatened by the closure of the runways due to snow.
He had tweeted: “Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your s**t together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!”
He was flying here to meet a woman he had met through Twitter, who has been identified in court only by her alias, Crazy Colours. The message was found by a staff member at the airport and it was reported to Doncaster police, who arrested Mr Chambers in January.
Chambers, now living in Northern Ireland, subsequently lost two jobs over the debacle.
Comedian and free speech campaigner Stephen Fry told a fundraising gig for Chambers’ next appeal that the tweet was an example of Britain's tradition of self-deprecating humour and banter.
“This (verdict) must not be allowed to stand in law,” Fry said.
The QI host said he would repeat Chambers' message and face prison “if that's what it takes”.
Other celebrities lining up to support Chambers at London's Bloomsbury Theatre included Al Murray, Rufus Hound, Katy Brand and Father Ted writer Graham Linehan.
After his court conviction in July 2010 Chambers was sacked by the car distribution firm in Sandtoft where he worked, after his managers heard the police call him a “terrorist”.
Mr Chambers took up temporary employment with a local council in Northern Ireland.
He told council employers his appeal against his conviction was due, to give them prior warning that his name would be in the papers. But instead of being given time off to attend the hearing, he was dismissed.
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Judge Jacqueline Davies, who ruled in 2010 that Paul Chambers was guilty of sending a menacing electronic communication, said after his appeal at Doncaster Magistrates Court: “We find it impossible to accept that anyone living in this country, in the current climate of terrorist threats, would not be aware of the consequences of their actions in making such a statement.”