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back to article Airport bomb Twitter joker in second fine appeal bid

Paul Chambers, the Twitter joker turned misdemeanour conviction martyr, returned to court on Wednesday to launch a second appeal against a conviction over a "threatening message" to blow Doncaster's Robin Hood Airport "sky high". Chambers, 27, posted the notorious micro-blogging message in early January 2010 while the Yorkshire …

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Anonymous Coward

Given the UK's insistance on making its laws and application thereof look as ridiculous as possible there's only one way this is going to go.

AC - because we are ruled by arses.

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Anonymous Coward

When you ban someone from a large, popular website the first thing they do is threaten to sue you if you don't unban them. When they realise that your legally within your rights to remove an abusive nutter from a website then the death threats start.

Personally, I don't have a problem with people making threats getting a day in court, and a judicial slap on the wrist as so long as the police and CPS are consistent about it and fine *EVERYBODY* making death threats gets a fine so it acts as a deterrent.

Admittedly, I probably feel differently about this being on the receiving end of death threats instead of the dispensing end...

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Silver badge

Ineffective threats

There was also a prosecution for endangering an aircraft when a drunk tried to open a door inflight, although the doors are held closed by several tons of air pressure and totally impossible to open.

So does an ineffective threat still constitute a threat? If I was to say "I will use my magical powers to curse Robin Hood airport and call up the hoards of Cthulhu to destroy it" - does that constitute a threat?

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Meh

dunno...

about mr. 'im getting off', I think at the very least he should be charged with threatening the other passengers... I doubt most of them, when vitnessing him trying to open the door, laughed because they knew about the difference in airpressure and that he would never be able to open it...

maybe the book was thrown at him because of the intent? if I point a gun at a person, pull the trigger, and it doesn't fire... because there wasn't any bullets in it, should I be charged with scaring them, because the gun could never have fired as there was no bullets in it, or should I be charged with attempted murder, because at least in my mind I was about to kill someone?

I don't think the tweeter (?) was ever suggesting that he wanted to blow up the airport, it was a joke. So he should go free. If he has seriously tried to blow up the airport, or made an actual threat then yes, porridge time for him, but seeing as everyone could tell it was a joke?

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Alien

Ineffective? Cthulhu?

Hey, don't diss the Cthulhu. He/She/It might really get pissed and suck out the brains of some Or, did he already do that?

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Anonymous Coward

Air pressure

What is the external air pressure at 30,000 feet? And the internal air pressure of a commercial aircraft?

I would have thought it was lower outside than inside. But then I'm not a physisist, just an annonymous coward.

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Happy

Aircraft doors...

Have to be pulled inwards before they open outwards. There is SOME logic to the design, you see.... ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

"I would have thought it was lower outside than inside. But then I'm not a physisist, just an annonymous coward."

That's right... and the doors open inwards......

.

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Air pressure IS lower outside an aircraft than inside

That's the point.

Aircraft doors usually have to be pulled inward to open them (even if they then swing outwards to give a clear opening) and the air pressure inside the cabin, being higher than outside, pushes the door firmly outwards, against its seal, so that it can't leak and it can't be opened while in flight.

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This post has been deleted by its author

FAIL

Er...

Poppy, and as they say round here, cock.

Aircraft doors open outwards. The pressure inside the cabin far exceeds that outside when at height, which is how the windows and doors can blow outwards if they fail.

The impossibility of opening them is caused by the control systems, which can be disarmed in an emergency. Opening the doors in flight is a little-used technique to clear cabin smoke, but there are several things in place that have to be turned off to allow it to happen. Mr Lemmeouttahere, being pissed, would have found those things quite tricky.

Back in legal land, the airport authorities deemed the tweet to be unthreatening, as did South Yorkshire Police - but they had to hand it on to the CPS as a matter of course. It was only when they got hold of it that the anti-terror folks got in on the act.

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Anonymous Coward

@Greem

The doors on a commercial aircraft do open in such a way that they end up outside the aircraft, this can give the impression that they open outward. The key is the first movement in opening the door, which is inward, moving the door past lips which are outside of the door, but within the airframe. After this motion, the door can be swung out on a second set of hinges.

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Anonymous Coward

Not poppycock, I'm afraid

http://www.pprune.org/archive/index.php/t-403244.html

Essentially, the doors/over-wing exits on pressurised passenger aircraft have to move inwards, then move sideways to manouevre round some tabs before being able to open outwards. In a pressurised cabin, the first step (moving inwards) is not humanly possible to achieve at altitude as there is rather a large force pushing the door outwards. If the cabin is depressurised, either by accident, or deliberately at low altitudes, then moving the door is possible.

Cargo bay doors are different.

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Silver badge

Doors

As others have pointed out, it's pretty much impossible to open the plane doors while in flight.

Ask The Pilot is an interesting column which debunks this and other things - http://www.salon.com/2006/05/05/askthepilot184/

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Facepalm

@Greem

I'm terribly sorry to break the news to you but doors on a commercial airliner are unlocked, then pulled *IN*, rotated slightly, and then pushed *outwards*. The rotation is such that the door clears the cambered seals that prevents a door from failing and blowing out. You will also find that even though doors look to open, they open towards the front, so that the slipstream, if a door *was* to be disengaged, forces the door closed on its hinges.

HOWEVER, you *ARE* correct in terms of cargo doors. There have been several well-documented incidents where cargo door locks failed, or where cargo door locks were damaged on closure (and subsequently failed to engage correctly), and blowouts occurred in mid-air. However, the aircraft models in question were subject to FAA directives to correct the problems, and none have occurred in newer models.

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Silver badge

great blog ...

... thanks for pointing it out

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jai
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bit of common sense

a) it's obvious that the tweet wasn't meant as a serious threat

but b) equally, you've gotta be pretty stupid in this day and age to make a public announcement about blowing up an airport

so both sides are at fault here, imho

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Nothing like sitting on the fence ;-)

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Sitting on the fence

"Everyone is wrong" is all too often the right assessment

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Common sense

a) Has a point. But the credibility of most threats will be highly subjective. Some people might actually believe in the cursing power of Ctulhu mentioned above. Apparently, at least one airport employee was fearful or malicious enough to interpret that tweet as an actual threat. (Then again, in some countries knowingly filing a false criminal complaint could be a criminal act of itself)

b) It's true that, these days, such jokes are an open invitation for people who are supposedly concerned with our "security" to abuse the power we've given them. However, to allow our cynical expectations to dictate an interpretation of law that, even by todays standards, flies in the face of reason en fairness would be a mistake.

Let the law proscribe what should happen. Not what could be expected to happen in some Kafka-esque society where none of us want to live.

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Anonymous Coward

Boarder control

A friend of mine works for UK Border control, a few years ago someone came through with a pot on their arm, a friendly chat was had along the lines of:

"Broken arm, bummer, what did you do?"

"It's not broken, I'm just smuggling drugs"

"ha ha"

"ha ha"

Later that day a pot was found abandoned in a bin on the way off the site. They no longer joke with anyone.

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Anonymous Coward

No doubt they now keep a shaggy dog handy to test these sorts of stories.

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FAIL

re Border Control

That nicely illustrates the kind of security industry thinking that makes the rest of us alternately shake our heads in amazement and facepalm,

Even assuming it was the same cast, is your mate figuring that if this fella told the truth once he must have been telling the truth the second time? Again, assuming it was the same cast, it obviously wasn't full of drugs 'cause you wouldn't unpack that on a secure site.

Mind you, it would make a nice distraction if the bloke BEHIND him in the queue was smuggling:

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As eny fule nows.....

A fake cast is the way to go on a holiday flight, you get straight to the front of the queues both at chack-in and you get called first to get on the aircraft. And so does anyone else travelling with you.

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Unhappy

If stupidity were a crime

then at least one sentence would have been handed out.

The question is whether it should have been two - a second sentence for the decision to bring the case in the first place.

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Joke

But surely...

...victory would mean that terrorists could communicate openly, and disguise their heinous intentions by appending LOL to the end of every message?

<- Joke, but potentially - not a joke

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Bronze badge
Mushroom

and don't call me Shirley

It was a joke...a poor one...but nevertheless a joke.

However, they're going to find him guilty as a warning to anyone else foolish enough to do this.

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"The two senior judges retired to consider their ruling on the case which, when it comes, will become the definitive statement in English law on how to treat cases of this type in future."

No it won't. The appeal court is not considering whether "the tweet had a menacing character", which is what he was convicted of under section 127(1) of the Communications Act 2003.

Rather it is considering the effect of Article 10 of the EHCR (right to freedom of expression). Specifically whether bringing the prosecution was disproportionate under Article 10, or whether it could be justified under the public safety and national security exemptions to the EHCR.

Even if the appeal is successful, the next twitterist who makes an ill-considered jape could find themselves in exactly the same hot water unter the 2003 act, and potentially not be able to mount a defence under the EHCR.

In other words, the appeal wanted to establish that the authorities were being vindictive, as they are perfectly capable of recognising the difference between a bloke having a joke about his hols to Benidorm (or wherever it was) and a genuine terrorist who is going to detonate first and release the threatening video posthumously.

Instead, the court is saying it is fine for the authorities to be dicks in principle, but considering whether they overstepped the mark in this particular case.

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Did anyone (police, airport etc) do anything specifically to protect the airport against this "threat"?

Did anyone, at any point, even momentarily consider this a genuine threat?

If the answer to both those questions is no (I suspect it is) then it is a little difficult to see why the case was prosecuted and what good it was expected to do.

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Black Helicopters

Conversely...

On the day in question, did the airport take extra security measures, did the local police and anti-terror organisations mobilise and make provisions to apprehend the tourrarist?

If not then I should think the passengers flying that day have opportunity to get representative or group litigation order and effectively sue the airport for failing to take a security threat seriously.

Would make for an interesting case, on the one hand we have the court deciding it was a credible threat, on the other we have the airport trying to prove it wasn't.

Black helicopters, because they have the flying whale in their sights.

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Silver badge

Good luck to him

Maybe sense will prevail.

Ooooo!! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No. A pig.

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Mushroom

Print my comment or I will blow up this website

Leave a sack of cash in the bin behind my house. Address supplied.

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Sir

I feel like reporting your comment just for the hell of it, knowing that it would have to be taken semi-seriously and earn you a black mark in the Register.

On the other hand, can't be arsed. C'est la vie.

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Mushroom

RT @David 66 Print my comment or I will blow up this website

Leave a sack of cash in the bin behind my house. Address supplied. #iamspartacus

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Joke

Print my comment or I will blow up Robin Hood Airport's website

Leave a sack of cash in the bin behind my house. Address supplied. #iamspartacus

(Joke alert, as if you have the brains of a Zabriscan Fontema you'd realise that THIS IS A JOKE!)

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Headmaster

RTFA: Spart*i*cus (unless the correction has been accepted ;-) )

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IT Angle

Odd that you'd forget...

"supporters include Graham Linehan, writer of Father Ted..."

And a certain other show, what was the name of it again...?

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Joke

Obviously a very serious threat

Right in line with our recently-in-the-news British friends of the Destroy America/Dig up Marilyn Monroe persuasion ;-) Who at least "only" lost their airline tickets' value.

If they have to make an example of something like this, why not keep it, at least optionally, at a just a fine for misdemeanor? A criminal record is harsh punishment and should be reserved for real/credible threats.

But even a fine is over the top in this particular instance. Law needs more flexibility and common sense. It needs to cover this case AND the IRA-type phoning in of a bomb threat, with appropriate responses to each.

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Silver badge

> "only" lost their airline tickets' value

They've also lost the ability to ever enter the USA again for the rest of their lives. Including the woman, who had not even sent the tweet.

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Can't ever go to the US...

So, no big deal there then.

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Headmaster

One minute court case

"De minimis non curat lex". Case dismissed.

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Anonymous Coward

You simply can't fix stupid

Put this clown in a row boat in the middle of the ocean and wish him a happy day as you sail off.

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Big Brother

The message was spotted during an unrelated search....

Agree with all the 'stupid' comments. Only a dick would dick around with security these days.

What on earth was the search (The message was spotted during an unrelated search...) where this tweet was spotted? Was someone actually going through his twitter timeline??

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Anonymous Coward

@silver fox

On Twitter *nothing* in a public stream is secret. Robin Hood Airport has a Twitter account, and it is not particularly extreme to assume that the airport maintained searches on their Twitter client for "Robin Hood Airport", and considered this to be a problem.

It is also not particularly extreme to assume that simply searching for "airport closed" may have flagged up his tweet to someone who has a less... how shall we say... relaxed view on what may or may not be perceived to be a security threat.

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@SP "...considered this to be a problem."

That's the whole point - it wasn't considered to be a problem.

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999

Dear Police.

I'd like to report several British and US politicians for issuing threats against Iran, both in writing and on camera. I realise these threats were probably just made "for the LULZ", but you can't be too careful, in these volatile times.

Therefore I demand they are all arrested, interrogated, briefly imprisoned and heavily fined –just to be on the safe side [and 'pour encourager les autres']

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Anonymous Coward

If they never took these sort of "off the cuff"

Threats seriously, we'd still hav a brazillian electrician alive and possibly more undergorund bombings by the IRA

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Silver badge

That was the point - the airport, the police and security services didn't take the threat seriously - they declared it wasn't a credible threat, raised no security alert and did nothing at the airport.

The later prosecution was completely malicious.

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It's still a crime

Determining the merit of the threat is important but making the threat is still a crime. The idiot knew it was a crime and now he should be punished for his crime. He should also be forced to repay all costs associated with his crime including financial losses to travelers, airlines, investigation and prosectution costs, etc. Then we'd have justice.

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Silver badge

Until they brought the case ...

... the costs were zero. The 'costs associated with his crime' to which you refer appear to be costs payable by the UK taxpayer for the ensuing circus.

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