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back to article Twitter joke appeal adjourned

Paul Chambers, the Twitter joke marytr, began his appeal against a widely ridiculed conviction for sending a message "threatening" to blow Doncaster airport "sky high" on Friday. Chambers, 27, got into all sorts of trouble after posting an ill-conceived Twitter update on 6 January, days before he was due to fly over to Belfast …

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Well...

I'm with you as far as Paul Chambers goes. Betjeman, however, had a point.

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WTF?

The terrorists have won......

....when common sense no longer matters. Who was the officious little p***k that felt he should charge this bloke for a misjudged, yet completely obvious 'joke'. What an utter waste of time and money for all involved in this ridiculous affair.

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Flame

Prosecution's shoddy argument should be taken outside and shot

See what I did there?

Anyway... The fact that the phrase "I have decided to resort to terrorism" was only in this hapless guy's mind thanks to years of govt/media hysteria over some nebulous bearded danger that lurks in the shadows obviously means nothing to this idiotic prosecution.

Maybe if he'd put a LOL SMILEY FACE!1!!!!1 on the end of it they'd understand better.

Come the revolution etc.

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Grenade

Time for some Human Sacrafices

of 'crats wasting public taxes on this kind of shit.

Seriously.

We need some Public Hangings of these Un-Civil servants

to straighten out their attempts to implement Divine Right

by cause of National Security.

Dhu

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Lying?

"However Caroline Wiggin, appearing for the prosecution, said Chambers had sent an earlier direct message at a time when it looked like Doncaster Airport might close that said: "I was thinking if it does I have decided to resort to terrorism." "

Not that I would say that barristers would lie, but this seems like one. I'd want to see pretty good proof that this happened. Smells like bullshit from here.

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Nope

I was in court for the trial yesterday, and the defence didn't challenge the existence of these prior tweets.

They were obvious jokes, banter.... Well, obvious to the sane anyway...

Martin.

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Grenade

Ignoramous

You know nothing about how the legal system works. Anything and everything that the prosecution and defence submit must be revealed to each other, and the court, prior to the trial taking place. The documents supplied in support are called "bundles", and are traditionally wrapped in red tape.

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FAIL

@person who called me an 'ignoramous'

Insults about people's intelligence work much better when you can spell them correctly.

I am aware that you have to submit your evidence before a trial, but it still sounds fishy. There is a difference between sending out a Twitter message like he did, and e-mailing an airport saying "I'll have to resort to terrorism". Why is he e-mailing an airport in the first place? If he really did do this, then while he shouldn't be found guilty of sending threatening messages, he should be found guilty of being a complete twat.

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Eh?

Again, I was at the hearing, so let me clear this one up. There was no suggestion that he had ever emailed the airport, or sent any other sort of "directed message" to them.

None.

Nada.

Didn't happen.

Martin.

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They only said he'd sent a direct message, they didn't say who to.

It's possible he sent it to a friend, then decided the joke was so funny it would bear repeating in public.

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Yes...

The only person directly messaged in all of this was Crazy Colours. No attempt was made to contact the airport intentionally.

Actually though, I suspect they are getting confused between direct messages and replies / mentions...

Martin.

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Paris Hilton

"I was thinking if it does I have decided to resort to terrorism."

"I was thinking if it does I have decided to resort to terrorism."

Everyone should change their email signatures to this. Oh what lulz could be have with the inevitable misunderstandings the will ensue!

Paris, cos its my third Paris in a row and apparently its lucky to have her three times in quick succession!

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Privacy

How do you sweep through all the millions of tweets every day, looking for a specific phrase e.g. Robin Hood Airport

Is there software to do this ?

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Erm?

The twitter website itself has such a search facility (Doubtless to Paul Chamber's annoyance...)

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Boffin

Is there software to do this?

Yes, it's called Twitter, you may have heard of it. It comes with a gid big search box at the top where you can enter something called "search terms".

Nothing personal, I just thought it was dumb question number one for today. :D

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Flame

Google Alerts makes over-reacting a breeze

Barely computer-literate jobsworth tells Computer to flag up us the bomb, then later screams "TERRARITS!" because Computer Says So.

Yes, it really is that easy.

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Mens rea also

Mens rea was also one of the points, I thought? The CPS contend it's a "strict liability offence", meaning that you, El Reg, are also potentially committing the same crime as Chambers by repeating the tweet.

According to some solicitor-commentators, case-law shows mens rea to be required.

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The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

The CPS now accept that it's not strict liability by the way...

Martin.

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Troll

Osama says to cohort after reading about this....

"Job done lads, we can sit back and chill for a bit. Fancy a Stella anyone?"

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Is there software to do this?

No need to take the piss, I genuinely didn't know that. Like I'm supposed to know everything about every piece of online timewaste or something ?

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Happy

(untitled)

I wasn't taking the piss - just pointing out that the search bar does this...

Martin.

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Didn't know?

You "didn't know" that Twitter has a search facility and from that you got to a comment about needing software to do it? Didn't it occur to you that since almost every major website has a search facility that the balance of probabilities was that Twitter might have one too. And rather than typing your post you could have just visited Twitter to check?

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Black Helicopters

Osama is totally uninterested in this....

All he wanted was to get the US out of Saudi, Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, MI5 are very happy about this. Since they ran out of work when the Berlin Wall came down, they have been stoking up fear wherever they could find it, and this sort of reaction from the authorities is just what they want when the time to consider their budget comes round....

By the way, did you see that they are now pushing the Irish Threat again? Looks like they have given up on keeping Iraq/Afghanistan going, and are going back to something they are used to. I wonder if they can get the Irish to oblige....

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Go

"Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough"

What a great idea! Ground zero should be that miserable bus station I used en route to/from Heathrow when I used it years ago.

Can I push the bomb release?

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I just said, Google Alerts

If you ask again, I'm going to blow you sky high.

(Note to CPS - this is an offer of sexual services, not a TERRARITS threat)

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Big Brother

2x wrongs etc...

A quiet educational tasing 'round the back of the hangars would have solved this months ago and saved the taxpayer a bucket of money.

There are dozens of cases where idiots have made jokey bomb references at or about airports and suddenly found themselves having to answer questions in unpleasant little rooms in the arse end of an airport. He should have been aware that it was a bloody stupid thing to put out onto a public medium.

Having said that, it was also a bloody stupid over-reaction to said stupid message (and still is)

The moral of all this? Always remember that the apes that hang from special branches have no sense of humour* and are not likely to be happy if you try to make what you think is a funny about explosives or terrorist action.

* I know this having met a few of said apes, one of whom signed my paperwork as Smith even though the Photo ID he had shown airport security clearly said it wasn't but that's a completely different story for another time....

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My thought from the first day of the appeal...

This wasn't originally intended for here - so sorry for the descriptions of HTTP messages for dummies...

Well, I was in court for the first day of the appeal on Friday, and here's my view...

<b>Paul and CrazyColours</b>

Having followed Paul on twitter since this whole thing came up, he does have an over-active sense of humour, and he is a prolific user.

He's also, having met the guy in person, a thoroughly likeable, respectable chap. Strikes me as a generally responsible sort, who finds himself in his current position following an ill-considered tweet mixed with a dollop of Airport/Police/CPS inflexibility.

As for CrazyColours, well she's not on trial here - but for the record she struck me as a thoroughly pleasant young lady. She doesn't exactly fit the profile of a counter-revolutionary...

<b>The Tweet</b>

The tweet itself is, to my mind, clearly a joke. I formed that impression before the hearing – which is a good part of the reason I was actually at the hearing. Clearly Paul was not proposing to make the airport a little more accessible to planes at 37'000 feet.

<b>The Other Tweets</b>

There were, as I first learned on Friday, a couple of tweets before the main one. Both were clearly jokes (and didn't contain threats). Clearly the work of a man trying to impress a young lady with his good humour...

<b>Was the message threatening?</b>

No.

The content of the tweet clearly, in my view, marks it out as a joke.

Most people threatening to ensure an airport goes up in the world, one would think, are unlikely to be so obliging as to give a few days notice of their plans. I think I'm right in saying that the Airport Manager didn't notice the tweet until a couple / few days after it was written.

<b>Is the Airport Manager an idiot</b>

In my humble opinion, NO.

He has a number of duties and constraints he has to consider when going about his job, procedures that are laid down by bigger fish than he. Although he testifies that he was astounded to find the message in the public timeline, he also stated that it could well have been a joke. But, he is forced to pass the matter on to Security, who again, by policy, are forced to pass it on to the Police.

The procedures apparently do not allow for the flexibility for someone to say “The guy's a pratt. Message him back and tell him not to be so stupid...”. You might even feel that perhaps having someone from Security / Police give Paul a hair-dryer moment might not be unreasonable. Once we get into criminal prosecutions though, we've gone too far. How much has this case cost the public purse now? Would a “Don't be a pratt” message have been a lot cheaper?

There is evidence that everyone one in the chain thought this was a joke, with the exception of the CPS. You know, that well known champion of public freedom who never waste public resources whilst ensuring they can always be arsed to show up at trials having prepared their evidence in time... Those lads...

<b>Did Paul intend to threaten an airport?</b>

No. Really, he's just a plain ol' guy who, to reference Marcus Brigstocke, eats cheese like normal people.

<b>Did Paul foresee the potential reaction to his message?</b>

Given he sent it I would suggest the answer is No.

<b>Is Twitter a Public Telecommunications Network</b>

I've put some serious thought into this, and I have decided NO.

Let me explain...

Twitter is basically a web-application – something I'm familiar with as I happen to be a software developer. It works by receiving messages (technically called HTTP Requests) from people's computers over the internet, processing what the user is asking to do, and then sending content back to the user's computer in the form of a HTTP Response.

Twitter's infrastructure is both privately owned, privately funded, and I suspect located in a foreign country (The United States). Twitter itself is plainly not a Public Telecommunications Network within the meaning of the act.

You could argue however that the content of the HTTP Request itself is sent over the internet, and the internet (regardless of who you are using as an ISP / telecoms provider) does use the Public Telecommunications Network (ie BT's infrastructure).

However, does the HTTP REQUEST itself convey a threat? I would say no – it simply conveys a private instruction to the server, seen by no-one other than the server, which the server then decodes and works out what do with. The HTTP REQUEST (the bit using the Public Telecommunications Network) is not sent directly to the person who ends up reading the message – it is sent to Twitter's server. The end user only receives the content of the tweet perhaps days later when they log onto Twitter and check their tweets – and this is done by means a Completely separate exchange of messages. There is no single message that makes it all the way from the person who posted the tweet to the person(s) that receive it.

I don't actually think section 127 applies to any web application, as they all essentially work as detailed above. But then I'm not a lawyer – Stephen Fergusson is, so we'll leave it with him.

<b>In the end...</b>

I wish Paul and CrazyColours well... They are merely the unfortunates who managed to get caught up in this – because with the airport procedures as they were, someone was ALWAYS going to fall into this trap.

The fact that anyone could easily fall foul of this is precisely why the original conviction (aside from being unjust) cannot be allowed to stand. This has huge implications for everyone here, and Paul deserves everyone's support – not just from the Twitter community either. If you use Facebook, you're just as vulnerable.

Good luck guys,

Martin Milan.

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Clarity needed

What do they mean by an "earlier direct message"?

Is that another twitter, and email to the airport itself or phone call?

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answer

The earlier messages were both tweets.

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Anonymous Coward

Interesting

"Chambers had sent an earlier direct message at a time when it looked like Doncaster Airport might close that said: "I was thinking if it does I have decided to resort to terrorism.""

Interesting isn't it that in all the rather biased reporting we've read this hasn't been mentioned. The arguments in Chamber's defence always seem to hinge around the fact that the threatening tweet was a spur of the moment "joke" and a mistake. If, however, you take the earlier message into account then it makes the "spur of the moment" bit seem a bit of a weak defence.

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Grenade

Retweet?

So what are the authorities going to do if the Twitterverse decides to all tweet this? What if it becomes a hashtag? Surely the way to get the ludicrousness of this made clear is the "I'm Spartacus" defence?

If, as the CPS contend, it is a "strict liability" offence, then they would have to prosecute the world?

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bit late...

Everyone already has retweeted it...

The CPS now accept that this is not a strict liability offence...

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FAIL

Does anyone else recall...

...when our political elite, in the wake of various so-called 'terrorist' actions spouted such homilies as...

"They (the terrorists) seek to change our way of life. If we refuse to change, and carry on as usual, they cannot win."

"They hate us because they hate our freedoms."

"They seek to levy against us only fear; if we do not fear then they have no power or leverage."

I reply now, ten years on; in HOW MANY WAYS are we going to carry on changing our lives to adapt to this 'threat'? In HOW MANY WAYS will we continue to let this remarkably elusive enemy WIN?

Enough now.

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Joke?

Sorry, but as I understand the word joke it refers to something said or done in order to provoke laughter. Sorry I can't see how telling the world you're going to blow up an airport can be construed to be a joke.

I remember being at an airport once when a customs woman asked a man what he had in his bag. He replied "It's a bomb. A big one." Oh how eveybody laughed.

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@ Grease Monkey

"And rather than typing your post you could have just visited Twitter to check?"

Twitter is blocked where I was.

Next.

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