Twitter Joke Trial appeal rejected

The appeal of the aptly named Twitter Joke Trial has been denied, forcing the 26-year-old Paul Chambers to pay out the £1,000 fine and extra penalties after he made a twitter joke about blowing up an airport.

The Judge said she did not believe that Chambers was unaware of the consequences of what was an “obviously menacing” message. She said anyone living the present climate of terrorist threats could not be unaware of the consequences of such a message, according to Martin Wainwright of The Guardian.

The Judge called Chambers “an unimpressive witness” and increased the legal costs involved by £2,000 to £2,600, making the total fine £3,000, triple that of before the appeal. 

Many people on Twitter were hoping that Chambers would win his appeal against what is considered an overly harsh sentence for what was ultimately a joke, but it appears that fears over terrorism means we must all be wary about what we tweet.

He was due to fly out to Ireland, but his flight was threatened due to extreme weather conditions. Like any angry customer would do, he tweeted his frustration, but chose an unfortunate string of words to use:

“Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week… otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!”

The actual fine itself is £385, with a £15 surcharge, but legal costs have amounted to £600, now £2,600. That’s a whole lot of money for venting flight frustration online.

The case has far-reaching repercussions for the rest of Twitter’s users and opens up new ground for what can be considered a public network. @TMT_Lawyer tweeted: “In case you’ve not noticed, by saying Twitter is public network, #TwitterJokeTrial says ANY publicly accessible system within s127 CA 2003.”

Alex Deane, of watchdog Big Brother Watch, tells TechEye: “This judgement lacks all common sense. Someone joking about terrorism on Twitter might be an idiot but he’s clearly not a terrorist, and treating him like one undermines faith in the law. It’s a wildly over the top, authoritarian response to the current situation.

“This absurd judgement is enough to make me want to blow up Robin Hood airport.