Twitter joker’s acquittal celebrated as victory for free speech online
A 28-year-old who joked about blowing up an airport after a missed flight prevented him from keeping a romantic liaison which led to his arrest two years ago has had his conviction quashed by the courts.
Paul Chambers was passing through Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster on his way to Belfast for a date with a girl in Northern Ireland with the handle @CrazyColours. But delays at the airport caused him to miss his flight.
Exasperated Chambers tweeted: “Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your sh*t together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!”
Initially no one except Chambers’ followers saw the tweet but a fortnight later an airport worker found the tweet, notified the police and Chambers was arrested and fined stg£1,000, later rising to stg£3,600 following appeals.
Chambers’ plight made him something of a cause célèbre, enlisting him the support of top comedians like Stephen Fry and Dara Ó Briain, who campaigned to raise funds for him to appeal his case. It even sparked an ‘I am Spartacus’-style viral campaign on Twitter.
Today in the UK’s High Court, the Lord Chief Justice ruled that Chambers’ tweet was actually “not of a menacing character” and there was no evidence to suggest it was a terrorist threat.