Not a threat?
Hmmm... Paul Chambers did not intend the message as a threat, and the airport manager who first found the message didn't either.
(From the article: "Off-duty manager Shaun Duffield who stumbled across the offending Tweet days after it was made told a court on Monday that the message was not taken as a credible threat and had no operational effect on the airport." From the Telegraph: "He alerted airport security head Steven Armson who said he graded the threat level of the message as "non credible" but had no choice but to pass it on to police Special Branch")
So far, harmless jobsworthiness. Following procedures. No real harm done.
Yet Paul Chambers was barred from the airport, according to other press reports at the time. Was this just some spiteful or anal-retentive jobsworth who barred him? What sort of person thinks a bad taste joke deserves a ban? Such penalties should not be handed out secretly - who made that call? Name names!
Then the CPS decided that there should be a prosecution under the Communications Act. They considered that he had used a "public communications network" and sent a "threatening message" and that prosecution was in the public interest, and an appropriate use of (scarce) resources. Or maybe they thought they could get a quick conviction and make their monthly quota. Whatever. The individual who made this clearly inappropriate and abusive call should be named and shamed.
Maybe he should have gone for a Jury trial - or have Labour removed that right?
The District Judge Jonathan Bennett found Chambers guilty of sending a message by means of a public electronic message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character contrary to the Communications Act 2003. Mr Bennett said: "I am therefore satisfied, so that I am sure, that the defendant sent the message via Twitter and it was of a menacing nature in the context of the times in which we live.
"Furthermore I am satisfied the defendant was, at the very least, aware that this was of a menacing nature and I find him guilty of the offence."
This has not made Britain a safer place (and seriously - any slight possibility that people will be more careful before they tweet is outweighed by the fact that you can be prosecuted for such tosh).
This cannot have been the sort of threat that Parliament had in mind when outlawing menacing messages over public communications networks. It's a clear case of creeping increase in scope!
Soon we'll all be terrorists. And I hope that saying that doesn't get twisted into an endorsement of terrorism! You get locked up for that.