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back to article Twitter airport bomb joke conviction binned in common-sense WIN

A bloke found guilty of tweeting a "menacing" joke about blowing up a UK airport has had his conviction quashed by the High Court today. A collective sigh of relief was heard moments later from comedians addicted to the micro-blogging website. Paul Chambers, 28, was waiting to fly from Doncaster's Robin Hood airport to Belfast …

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What about the Crown Court judge?

Given that the decision was pretty clear, and made it clear that no-one in their right mind would have taken the original tweet seriously, will some form of action be taken to ensure that the original judge is perhaps considered for early retirement or transfer to some less onerous duties, perhaps cleaning the windows?

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Flame

Re: What about the Crown Court judge?

What kind of control freak downvotes this kind of comment? Gas!

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Coat

Re: What about the Crown Court judge?

A window cleaner that's proud of his work?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What about the Crown Court judge?

"What kind of control freak downvotes this kind of comment? Gas!"

It was I, District Judge Jonathan Bennett!

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Re: What about the Crown Court judge?

They can't stand streaky windows.

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Thumb Up

Re: What about the Crown Court judge?

I'm not a window cleaner!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fr0w-C2Ichc

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Coat

Re: What about the Crown Court judge?

I understand that he's been given a week and a bit to get his shit together, otherwise he will be blown sky-high.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What kind of control freak downvotes this kind of comment?

It was unkind to window cleaners.

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MJI
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Re: What kind of control freak downvotes this kind of comment?

Well it wasn't Jake so hmmmm

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Meh

Re: What about the Crown Court judge?

He was probably 100 years old and still used an ear trumpet.

This decision is already too late to have saved his career.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What about the Crown Court judge?

In fact it was a junior, female judge sitting with 2 magistrates. The real issue is with the CPS who brought the prosecution even though the police didn't take it seriously. It was the CPS who have just created a huge waste of taxpayer money by their decision to prosecute. I don't blame a junior judge; she could well have been overawed by the CPS - perhaps a quiet word that the Home Secretary really wanted a conviction on this one? We don't know, and the judge is unlikely to take to Twitter to tell us what really happened. Though, given the very authoritarian tendency of the unlamented Blair-Brown years, I have my own opinion on the subject.

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Re: What about the Crown Court judge?

The very existence of the CPS is the reason why this went as far as it did, but that isn't a flaw in the CPS. It's the entire reason the CPS was created. The police, who had common sense, weren't bringing high-profile prosecutions; the government wanted prosecutions, so the CPS was created to take the job of bringing prosecutions away from the police in order to make political hay.

Whilst it was created in 1985 and thus isn't the sole responsibility of Blair's government, until 2003 it had to wait to be asked by the local police force to bring a prosecution, and only if that force chose to ask. What changed in 2003 was the introduction of the 2003 criminal justice at which, amongst such innocuous details as removing double jeopardy protection, right to trial by jury and creating more new crimes than at any time in British history, gave the CPS the sole right to bring prosecutions, reversing its relationship with the police completely and leading to the current series of farcical trials that make big headlines but don't achieve any sort of justice.

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Go

We can be sarcastic on the internet again!

Woohoo!

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This isn't just about the judges. Your would have through airport authorities would have enough to do thwarting genuine threats than spend ages going after someone who made an obvious joke. Do they really think an al Qaeda bomber would make the threat on twitter, complete with his id and effectively his home address for a week hence? Might impact on the deliverability of his plan somewhat.........

Whilst they were pursing this chap, all sorts of other threats are getting through. The child who went to Rome without any documentation, ticket, anything this week would seem a good example. Maybe that only happened because they were too busy going after this guy, rather than checking their systems are up to scratch?

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Anonymous Coward

Do they really think an al Qaeda bomber would make the threat on twitter

Nobody said terrorists had to be intelligent...

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Whilst they were pursing this chap, all sorts of other threats are getting through. The child who went to Rome without any documentation, ticket, anything this week would seem a good example. Maybe that only happened because they were too busy going after this guy, rather than checking their systems are up to scratch?

A reasonable post ruined by hyperbole!

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Boffin

"Nobody said terrorists had to be intelligent"

However, a number of studies have shown that terrorists, particulalry suicide bombers tend to be from a middle-class highly educated background, with many being graduates.

This may explain why they occasionally succeed, when those going after them appear to be of far lower average intelligence.

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but they made sure he wasn't carrying any dangerous substances such as Evian mineral water, so the public were not at risk.

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Not so much the suicide bombers... they aren't the smartest, being manipulated by those who don't blow themselves up. If there were very smart, stable and motivated suicide bombers, they would be able to coordinate their actions and blow up a plane, rather than set fire to their shoes or pants- but such people prefer to pull the strings of others from a safe distance. It would take several individuals per plane, though- combining their fluids etc.

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@ Dave 126

"It would take several individuals per plane, though- combining their fluids etc."

Sounds like you're planning on joining the mile-high club eh Dave?

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Black Helicopters

Actually...

"...This isn't just about the judges. Your would have through airport authorities would have enough to do thwarting genuine threats than spend ages going after someone who made an obvious joke...."

... they HAVEN'T. This is what everybody seems to miss about the current oppressive regime running our security.

There really are very few genuine threats, to the point of their non-existence. The few threats the Security Service have manage to scrape together to justify this huge expansion in their budget, staff and general power are almost certainly young easily-led idiots who have been enticed into joining a plot by agent-provocateurs working for the SS. There is actually no other way they could catch them, anyway...

However, once you consider that the alternative was having our Security Service closed down in 1995 once the Cold War had ended and their reason for existence had come to an end, I guess you can see why the SS are frantic to count every person bringing a camera and a bottle of drink into the country as a possible threat...

Watch them go after 'pedophiles' and anyone indulging in 'dangerous sex' shortly. Their sister agency seems to be building a bit of a track record in this area...

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Wrong!

In order to recognise an "obvious joke" one has to be imbued with a sense of humour.

You're talking about "airport authorities". On which planet do they have a sense of humour?

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Re: Wrong!

@John A Blackley

Don't blame the airport authorities - they guy who reported this had to do so because of the procedures. In court they testified they did not take it seriously. The first problem was with the police - they turned it into some form of spectacle by turning up (armed no less) to arrest Paul Chambers at work. The second problem was the CPS, in that they appear to have gone out of their way to justify this enormous reaction by the police. When they found that the original cause of arrest was unsupportable (that of making a threat), they found an obscure sub-section of a statute aimed at preventing harassment phone calls and applied it. By this time, a well known legal blogger (David Allen Green aka Jack of Kent) had picked up on a potential miscarriage of justice and advised Paul Chambers that he had a good case to plead "Not Guilty".

However, yet another state-appointed official in Doncaster - a stipendiary magistrate (or a lawyer paid by the state) went along with this finding the original tweet was "menacing". This involved postulating some theoretical individual that would have found such a tweet menacing, despite the slightest evidence that anybody had ever found it so, and only the possible existence of this particularly feeble-minded cousin of "The Man on the Clapham Omnibus" might be slightly troubled. Shockingly, this verdict was supported on the first appeal. Those of us with a cynical sort of mind (or, rather experience of bureaucracies, the member's of which first instinct is to protect the system) were not surprised. What it actually took was some judges senior enough to put aside the

The real question here is about role of the DPP (Keir Stammer), whose personal decision it appears to have been to oppose the appeal. Anybody bringing a reasonable amount of common sense to this would have noted it was an unsupportable case. One has to wonder if he has the right qualities of judgement to be in that post.

So, don't blame the people low down the food chain - it appears the higher up the system it got, the more those further up chose to defend the indefensible. This could have been cut short at any time by somebody with the courage to recognise a major system failure. As it is, we should all be hugely grateful to those involved in the the defence, like David Allen Green and, most critically of all, Paul Chambers as if we are to criminalise hyperbole and bad taste jokes many of us are in trouble. I should also add a vote of thanks to the judges who made this deliberation. Some have said that the prosecution should have made us doubt the system, but ultimately it is the facility to correct which is surely more important.

nb. "The Man on the Clapham Omnibus" has real significant legal influence in the law of England and Wales, whatever his fictitious nature...

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Re: Wrong!

@Steven Jones "Don't blame the airport authorities - they guy who reported this had to do so because of the procedures."

That sounds awfully like "But I was only following orders" and we all know where that can lead.

There seems to be a whole gaggle of jobsworths prepared to stick their hands up and say "but I didn't take it seriously" after the fact. So why did it keep getting passed up the chain then?

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Childcatcher

True.. But when the people they are supposed to be terrorising are so determined to be terrified that any mention of blowing something up in ANY context, no matter how Blindingly obviously transparently and unquestionably NOT A THREAT is treated as a real threat. Then the idiots have won.

I mean. seriously.. "If the airport doesn't stop making the planes stay on the ground, I'm going to make them keep the planes on the ground".. Is this a logically consistent sentence? Does it pass the "pissed off bloke sounding off on twitter" test?

Coming soon to a newspaper near you.. "Aircraft destroyed by London Surface to air missile found to be magpie carrying tinfoil". "Minister for running around in circles and screaming considers death toll a tragic, but entirely proportional response to the new suicide litter collecting bird threat. "

The rational response is..

1) Read tweet.

2) Dismiss as nonsense.

3) Slap person who reported this nonsense.

4) Get on with life.

5) Eat more fibre.

Gotta go.. My right offside car tyre is a bit soft, so I'm going to pop down to the filling station and blow it up..

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Happy

"Gotta go.. My right offside car tyre is a bit soft, so I'm going to pop down to the filling station and blow it up.."

You owe me a keyboard!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wrong!

Good comment. I think "Keir Stammer" was an inspired typo, though.

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Anonymous Coward

Maybe someone should tweet that they are going to firebomb his parents house and see how funny he thinks that is. He behaved like a spoilt kid and got it in the ass!

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Yeah. Maybe his dad's best mate, who was due to meet him at the pub that evening. Maybe, when he got to the pub, Mr Chambers wasn't there. So maybe he could send a message that said

"Get to the pub now, beer's getting cold. Do I need to firebomb you out of your house?!"

There, about the same level of seriousness. I reckon I can figure out how Paul would react. He'd ignore it.

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FAIL

Nope

Nope. He behaved like a person with a sense of humour. Anyone with even an ounce of humour would have immediately read it as funny and not a genuine threat. If being humerous is acting like a spoilt kit, I'm glad to say I'm a kid!!

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You must work for the TSA. Does the UK have a no fly list ? If so he might be on it now.

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And you're behaving like a person with absolutely no sense of humour whatsoever.

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Facepalm

Oh dear, missed the point again...

It's not about whether it's funny., it's about whether it's a genuine threat.

If someone makes a pisspoor joke on Twitter that they're going to firebomb his parents' house then I'm sure he'll find it very unfunny indeed but, hey, what can you do? Ignore it. Not laugh. Go into a sarcastic rant. The possibilities are endless. Calling the rozzers, however, shouldn't really be on the list.

If someone makes what is clearly a genuine threat, however, that's a different story. Give the boys in blue a bell and help thwart an atrocity.

See the difference? One's a pisspoor joke and one's a genuine threat.

The key is using common sense, not the legal system, to tell them apart.

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Joke

We here at the FBI have no sense of humour we're aware of.

</moviequote>

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Re: Oh dear, missed the point again...

"The key is using common sense, not the legal system, to tell them apart."

Though one would hope the legal system did have some common sense, or was open to arguments of common sense.

And indeed it usually does and is, which begs the question why it had to pass so far down the line for common sense to prevail. It does seem to have be politically motivated; having decided his act was unacceptable they were determined to find him guilty and punish him.

It has happened before and will happen in the future. Many suspect that will be the case for McKinnon and Assange.

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Anonymous Coward

Now the whole stupid fiasco is over, he might be able to laugh about such a comment! Your purile attempt to be offensive fall flat because your comment can now be taken in the context of the original issue of the joke tweet, making your comment vaguely amusing.

See my moronic little friend the English language is not as cut and dried as some other very specific languages, and the reason English humour works so well is due to its wonderful ambiguity and our prevalence for innuendo.

So why don't you bugger off back to school, as you seem to me to be around the age of 13, spend a bit more time in English class and little less time playing truant on adult internet forums!

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Re: Oh dear, missed the point again...

Putting McKinnon and Assange in the same category seems a little off to me. Assange is accused of rape and is attempting to avoid justice. McKinnon is accused of being embarrassing to an american politician and is attempting to find justice. One of these things is a serious crime. Can you tell which?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oh dear, missed the point again...

Are you threatening to send a threatening tweet regarding terrorism?

6 Months in the chokey for you, then someone should threaten to threaten to firebomb your parents house and see how you like it!

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Facepalm

Finally!

What a fantastic moment for British justice and common sense. Good job we haven't looked like fools or anything.

Well done, all!

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FAIL

What about Paul, though?

A spot of restitution for Mr Chambers for the consequences of an utter failure in the British Justice system.

He's lost a LOT because of some officious airport twat(s) and an over zealous and now demonstrably inept judge.

#CompensatePaulChambers indeed.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What about Paul, though?

Oh, he is due for quite a handout. Not US style, but there is loss of earnings, reputational impact etc etc. But he'll probably get shafted out of it because he made people look stupid, despite that they did that to themselves.

Sometimes you wonder if Guy Fawkes wasn't right..

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Re: What about Paul, though?

Wow, that got a thumbs down.

Theresa May is reading?

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Re: What about Paul, though?

While the court system deserves a kick in the bollocks for their original decision and subsequent failure to over turn it (until this time that is) we should remember that it was the Crown Prosecution Service who pushed for his conviction.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sometimes you wonder if Guy Fawkes wasn't right..

I am sure he was, why else would we celebrate his attempt each year??

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Re: What about Paul, though?

The compensation should come from a personal fine from the original trial judge, who should also lose his job. What a massive waste of public money this whole business has been.

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Big Brother

Would this be the same CPS

That refused to prosecute BT and Phorm on the grounds that there wasn't enough evidence?

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Big Brother

Re: Would this be the same CPS

Corrupt Prosecution Service?

Yep- that's them.

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Frankie Boyle...

Susans' husband does it again - a brilliant comment from Frankie.

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Re: Frankie Boyle...

A great victory for comedy would be Frankie Boyle being jailed for hate speech after his comments on the disabled. He's not funny, he's a mean-minded and nasty man who attacks literally anyone who can't fight back.

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Re: Frankie Boyle...

Actually, no. I know that Frankie makes a living out of being offensive, and it's funny-ish in a bleak sort of way, but what happened here was that someone had to fight VERY hard to obtain what most of us would consider a common sense decision. WTF? You cannot lock up the CPS clowns who started this for not having a sense of humour, but for a nation that has practically DEFINED humour for the rest of the planet this is a jolly poor show.

I can only commend the last judge for not allowing the UK to become the US, but the danger is far from over.

Maybe a public shaming of people making idiotic decisions would help, I am at a loss to see how this idiocy can otherwise be corrected.

The worst issue is that the funds get wasted that could help addressing the real threat. It exists, but it (a) doesn't need this idiocy and (b) the Met Police has proven it was up to the job during the IRA bombing campaign - without any weird laws or fools in wigs and robes making a mockery of common sense.

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