back to article Twitter bomb joker found guilty

A man who jokingly threatened to blow Doncaster airport "sky high" back in January has been found guilty of sending a threatening message. Paul Chambers, 26, posted the misconceived microblogging update on 6 January, after bad weather forced the Yorkshire airport to shut up shop a week before he was due to fly to Ireland. The …

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FAIL

idiot

Just because it is twitter doesnt mean it isnt any less serious. I would happily joke about things to my friends IN PRIVATE, but i wouldnt stand on a soap box in town shouting the same thing else I would expect the fuzz to be feeling my collar. Certainly not about things as sensitive as blowing airports up.

There have been countless cases of people doing the same in airports then wondering why they get arrested.

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Stop

'Arrested'

Yes, keyword, 'arrested'. Not 'criminally charged and convicted'. Usually when this happens at an airport the plods give the idiot in question a hard time for a while then tell him not to be such a twat in future and let him go, they don't charge and prosecute him for no sensible reason.

No argument that the dude's an idiot, but if a criminal conviction were a reasonable penalty for being an idiot, the whole country would be a jail by now...

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Untitled

Wrong wrong wrong. Saying a thing...or thinking a thing... isn't the same as doing a thing. By all means _investigate_ if it is suspected to be a genuine and credible threat and then if that investigation finds proof bring a prosecution. In their own words and in the minds of every normal person it clearly wasn't a credible threat in this case. I find it extraordinary that they continued such an obviously spiteful prosecution and even more incredible that having done so it wasn't simply dismissed once it got to court. Ludicrous.

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Facist EpciFail

Danny 14 - you have fallen into the police state trick.

You think making a joke about a thing means you are a criminal. In your world we should all huddle round with our heads down making sure we dont say anything incase we fall foul of some thoughtcrime.

If I stood in the street shouting I was going to blow up an airport, yes, I wouldnt be surprised if the police had a word with me. When they discovered I had no real intention or capability of carrying out said attack, I would expect them to move on and catch real criminals.

Even people who make jokes about this sort of thing in US airports dont get convicted of a non-crime.

Basically this is a farce in which the Police / CPS though a combination of idiocy and bloody mindedness have cost the TAXPAYER money while they have investigated and prosecuted someone for no good reason. This non-terrorist will now struggle to ever work again.

This has happened even though the "target" of the threat were unaware of the threat and even if they had known wouldnt have cared.

How ANYONE fails to see this is madness is beyond me. Its even stranger that people not only fail to see the crazy here but actually think its a reasonable use of police resources and "justice" being done.

What has happened to the world?

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Private or Public

You wouldn't stand on a soap box for fear of someone you know seeing you and categorising you as a nutter. Clearly I'm an mad unruly anarchist, but for me I tend to put weight on a statement based upon the person making the statement and/or the authority of the uniform they are wearing at the time, and some random frustrated dude on twitter ranks lower than any random person you'd bump in to at your local pub.

Given the shitty service industry (can't recall the originator, but "call centers are a calculated insult to customers") we need to be able vent how frustrated we are otherwise the bottled-up joke threats may become serious. Forget the current constitutional speed dating muddle, can we have a sensible free speech law passed sometime soon to re-enforce the basic entitlement under the Human Rights act?

Time for The Steam Valve act of 2010.

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Coat

Being criminally stupid

"No argument that the dude's an idiot, but if a criminal conviction were a reasonable penalty for being an idiot, the whole country would be a jail by now..."

Sound like the right approach.

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Big Brother

@Adam Williamson

Er... the whole country IS a jail, in case you hadn't noticed!

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Big Brother

Police state!

Still at least we don't have to drive Trabant's (is that a banned word too?)

Gahh I hate being anonymous here, but seems anyone who says anything is game.

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Grenade

A sad day for Britain

A very sad day, indeed. The tweet was obviously humorous (sarcastic?), and when you take that from a man, there isn't much left.

To be fair, the CPS are not the only ones to blame. I think the politicos did their fair share to "fuck up the life of an ordinary citizen" when enacting such laws against reason and freedom of expression.

Next time, let's all say that "You've got a week to repeal all stupid laws or I will blow Downing Street up in the sky!"

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Anonymous Coward

Topical but....

"I'd like to thank the CPS for their level-best efforts in fucking up the life of an ordinary citizen. I love Britain."

Yep, just about sums it up, you can thank the Labour government for that.

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All-party halfwittery

I agreed up until the point where you politicised it. But "same shit, different name" arguments aside, we do seem to be facing a major "something must be done" scenario. The question is if anyone will do it on our behalf.

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Deeply worrying

The CPS has taken leave of its senses. If making ill-thought out and objectionable jokes on the Internet is now the new standard for getting a criminal conviction then quite a few commentatoras on this site had better give themselves up now.

Anyway, plenty about this case on Jack of Kent's blogging site (which also played such an important part in raising awareness on the Simon Singh libel case).

http://jackofkent.blogspot.com/2010/05/paul-chambers-found-guilty.html

Note the actual charge used was not one of seding bomb threats, but covers a whole lot of other grounds - including sending obscene messages.

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Coat

I'm not worried...

"If making ill-thought out and objectionable jokes on the Internet is now the new standard for getting a criminal conviction then quite a few commentatoras on this site had better give themselves up now."

To paraphrase the Strawbs:

"You can't get me, I **ain't** part of the Union..."

I'll get my coat now....

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WTF?

hmmm

while obviously not the brightest thing he could have done I would have thought anyone with half a brain cell would take it how it was intended: as a joke.

What a complete waste of taxpayers money and the courts time.

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Anonymous Coward

Erm?

On what grounds did he decide to enter a plea of not guilty?

He admits he posted the message. Surely he can't deny that the message would appear to others as a threat? That's the problem a lot of people seem to have with the law in cases like this. It's not what you intended by your comments, but how a person may reasonably interpret them.

Or was it that he didn't send the message directly to the airport? Where is it written that a message has to be sent directly to be considered a threat.

<CYNIC>What he should have done is run for parliament last week. If he'd got in he could have claimed that either his "words had been misinterpreted" or that he "acted in good faith" or perhaps that "it was an honest mistake". As a politician that would have been considered a good enough excuse. </CYNIC>

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re: Erm?

I'm taking that as a threat, see you in court (this is not a threat!).

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Reasonably

"It's not what you intended by your comments, but how a person may reasonably interpret them."

If you think interpreting that tweet as a threat is reasonable, you are a fuckwitt and deserve to be blown sky-high!

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Take a deep breath

And read the post again. Now, which bit of that quote talks about calling bomb threats reasonable, and which bit talks about what can reasonably be expected if you send a bomb threat-like message?

Ah yes, that'd be "none of it" and "all of it", respectively.

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Big Brother

@Steen Hive

I should have posted that AC if I was you...

The fuzz will be kicking down your door in about 5 minutes.

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Troll

Reasonable? Don't be daft.

"It's not what you intended by your comments, but how a person may reasonably interpret them"

Well, I 'reasonably' interpreted the post as a joke. Everyone I have discussed this with 'reasonably' interpreted the post as a joke. The problem is that 'reasonable' seems to go straight out of the window when officialdom populated by fuckwits meets 'terrsm' and 'keeping the public safe'.

Icon of a muppet for anyone tho thought he was serious

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Terminator

Fuzz

No worries, thanks for your concern.

I abandoned Blighty long ago when the traitorous Thatcher decided the police were a militia to be used against the people and long before NuLab elevated that stinking type of authoritarianism to a fine art. It's not like no-one saw it coming.

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WTF?

Slow Learner ... ?

And on May 8th he's at it again with "Lord Mawhinney you fucking cheating jizzpot, you can bend over, part your cheeks, and shove your 25 points into your br ..."

Does he really not yet realise that all these terribly amusing, off-the-cuff remarks are in the public record for all to see for ever more?

I was feeling kinda sorry for him before, getting legally battered for the off-colour airport comment, but if he's still at it, I'm wondering if he shouldn't be pleading diminished responsibility.

Otherwise, just STFU already wlll you?

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Big Brother

wtf?

the law truly is an ass & a tyranny when it is used for no useful purpose, are the cps going to go after chris morris now for his 4 lions film for promoting jihad via on-line film trailers?

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Joke

Stick with the Sci Fi refs

Perhaps he should have threatened to build a Death Star and blow up the entire planet along with the airport. Oh and signed off as Lord Vader of Cheam or Saddam "I have WMDs" Hussein.

Joke alert in case CPS think I'm advising Terrorism in any shape or form...

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Stop

seriously

A slap on the wrist and a £200 fine is the way to go MAX. Really it shouldn't have got this far, a caution or strong talking too was more than enough but I guess it's way past that.

Now he'll forever have to declare it whenever asked about past convictions. 'I threatened to blow up an airport'. Well it's a good talking point/ice breaker I suppose.

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Sometimes I'm really ashamed to come from Britain, and Doncaster particularly...

This guy has done something very foolish - you can't deny it, and to be fair to Mr Chambers, I doubt even he would try...

But, has he really "sent a message" to the airport by posting on Twitter? He's taken no action whatsoever to bring the "message" to the attention of the airport themselves, and so I think a credibie argument could be made that he hasn't actually sent a MESSAGE at all, as a MESSAGE has an intended target.

It's also worth noting for a moment here that any judicary involved in actual real life really should have seen this as an expression of humour, regardless of whether it was in good taste. The airport / police could have done better to, and not wasted time on this muppet that could have been directed against the threat of ACTUAL terrorism. The context of this non-message is an important aspect of these events, and the police really should have used some of their discretion - and a dollop of common sense wouldn't be amiss either.

Should be get a slap on the wrist? Probably yes. Should he, on he basis of a flippant comment on Twitter have his life ruined - certainly no!

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When does November the 5th come around again?

When does November the 5th come around again?

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Err, that'd be

the first week of November, between 4th and 6th.

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Well that's half of all internet messages taken care of

It's not a big leap of logic to extend this to any offensive or threatening content in any email, IM, forum port, usenet article or comment.

So if you'll just send your names, addresses and preferred method of paying the fines to the Moderatrix, I'm sure she can take them all down to the local nick.

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Flame

You missed the point

In a country ruled by a vicar's son it will be the nick collecting them from the moderatrix shortly. Human society has already been through that once in the last century.

A turncoat demagogue followed by a vicar's son. If you do not know your history their names were Leon Trotsky and Joseph Vissarionovich Djugashvilli.

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s/nick/pub/;

Fixed.

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Megaphone

Lack of Common Sense

We should all demand that the CPS fire the person responsible for bring this to trial. It was obviously meant as a joke, and once the authorities understood it was a joke, they should have dropped the investigation.

How is it in the public interest to pursue a prosecution in this case? It wasn't a genuine threat. It wasn't malicious and it wasn't directed at any individual. It would also be interesting to see how much this whole trial cost us, the tax payer.

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How is it in the public interest

Well if every Tom Dick and Harry starts posting joke bomb threats on social networking sites how will they be able to distinguish the real threats?

I mean everyone knows real terrorists have Facebook pages and publish all their plans on Twitter.

I said before the reason these joke threats are taken seriously is because the huge anti-terror army created by our idiot politicians can't find any real threats to take seriously. When your job is fighting terror and you can't find any terrorists you have to make do with fighting anything that bears a slight resemblance.

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Joke

Be Careful!!!

I would emplore everyone on this page, please, don`t under any circumstances post the text "Blow the Airport Sky High" in these comments.

Did I just......ooops.

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Anonymous Coward

it was rhetorical

You work for the CPS don't you...

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Black Helicopters

I think what we have here is a lack of communication...

"...The airport / police could have...not wasted time on this muppet that could have been directed against the threat of ACTUAL terrorism. The context of this non-message is an important aspect of these events, and the police really should have used some of their discretion..."

What threat of ACTUAL terrorism is there? Is Doncaster Airport a prime target for aggrieved Afghans? The answers I am looking for here are 'None' and 'No'.

However, we are paying a lot of people a lot of money to pretend there is a major threat, and check and search us whenever we go near an airport, or any other public place. So they will be OUT OF A JOB if there is no kind of threat.

Under these circumstances, if you were working for a security company and someone mentioned a jokey tweet about blowing up an airport, do you:

a) laugh, and say good luck to him

b) check it out, decide it's a joke, and do nothing

c) call out the Anti-Terrorist squad and Security Service, arm them and blow in the door of the unfortunate Tweeter, then haul him off to Belmarsh and add a tick to your list of justifications for your job. Next to the heading 'Ridding the world of Brazilian electricians'.

If you want to keep your job - vote c)!

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Anonymous Coward

what if?

and then think of the security drone who gets the threatening message, votes (b) and wakes up the next morning to see headlines that look like 9/11 or 7/7 all over again. "Dang, did I just lose my job?" he thinks, "Nah, can't be, it was just a joke wasn't it?" Stupid twats who post threats like that should be done for wasting plod's time and tax payers money and made a proper example of, with a length of hemp at the nearest handy crossroads. 300 quid's a laugh, should have stuck him away for 300 months hard!

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Hi Dodgey...

Don't I also know you from Bystander's blog? Anyway, moving on...

You ask what the actual level of terrorism threats are - and that's a good question. I agree with that I take you be your view that things are being exagerated to ridiculous levels, but on the other hand, the real threat is not zero either.

As to the specific threat to Robin Hood Airport, to be honest, I would have thought it makes quite a good target... It handles large passenger aircraft, it's security is a joke (it's easy to get onto the actual airfield), and I would imagine is a much softer target than Heathrow, Manchester or Gatwick. There is a credible threat - but you and I both know that this debacle has nothing to do with any genuine fear of actual terrorism. I've read in one account that the airport considered this as a joke, but reported it to the police anyway!

I like your point though - we've made a big mistake in letting security become an industry...

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Big Brother

What if?

God forbid you ever make an off-colour comment whilst in a public place, then. Or perhaps you should consider moving to Iran, as their govt. seems to share your view on freedom of expression?

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Terrible day for justice

It's clear his tweet was in jest and not an actual threat. He didn't send a message to anyone. As any technically aware person knows, a tweet is simply placed on the Internet and it's up to others to come to it or to request it in order to read it. You have to seek it out to discover it.

I blame his solicitor for being useless and not explaining to the court what Twitter is and how it works, or for that matter what humour is and how that works! (Although his tweet wasn't actually funny)

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Travesty of justice

A sarcastic comment conveys the opposite meaning to the literal wording. No one but a complete idiot could have mistaken this message as anything other than a sarcastic comment.

Therefore he is quite clearly NOT GUILTY. Only trial without a Jury could have produced a result such as this. I sincerely hope that he does appeal this sentence for the sake of free speech if nothing else.

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WTF?

Once again...

... the CPS and the cops show us all what utter bloody fools they are. What the fuck is wrong with these people?

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He's a muppet

...for using twitter at all. A fortiori is a muppet for using twitter to make this comment.

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Black Helicopters

Oh don't you love the bureaucratic pillocks in society!

This guy deserved nothing to happen to him. I could understand him being arrested if he was on some sort of watch list/etc, but realistically this is just completely anti-free-speech. Are you really telling me that the Gov has nothing better to do but justify the 'war' on terror (in reality them doing everything they can to encourage/promote the 'major' terrorist threat in order to justify their jobs and dictatorial fascist powers (stop & search, detention without charge, ~cctv, crazy airport searches, no right to keeping encrypted data private, etc etc)).

Forget this guy, the people who [disclaimer: this is not intended as a libellious, terrorist-promoting, off-the-cuff or free-speech-supporting remark] have nothing better to do but deal with this are the ones who deserve to get prosecuted, lose their jobs, and be fined.

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FAIL

RIGHT THAT'S IT

Drop the prosecution immediately, or I'll blow ALL the airports sky-high. Also all the orphanages. And the whole of France.

How much do you have to threaten to blow up before it's taken as a joke -- my point is that, if he'd threatened to blow up, say, the whole of Scotland, it would have taken as hyperbole -- one would hope that a single individual threatening to blow up an entire airport would also be seen as a joke.

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I do hope...

... you were behind 7 proxies and a hushmail address when you posted that.

Otherwise, you do of course realise that, AC or not, El Reg has your IP and email addresses and a simple subpoena from the CPS could well tow you down the same path this guy has gone...?

As the great Z.B. once put it: OK, ten out of ten for style, but minus several million for good thinking, yeah?

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Grenade

OK, I'll go for it...

I'm going to launch a 500 gigaton thermonuclear weapon into the Sun, send it nova, and take out the whole Solar System !

Please come and get me coppers... I'll happily pay a £300 fine if you can get a jury to take that as a credible terrorist threat.

Not AC, for obvious reasons.

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Stupid, yes

but then in nature stupidity is usually a capital offense...

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@ ac erm

I suggest you read jack of kent's blog mention by steven jones or http://www.thelawyer.com/the-twitter-%E2%80%9Cbomb-hoax%E2%80%9D-case-worse-than-we-thought?/1003651.article also by the same guy. intent should have mattered.

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