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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  1. Danny 14 Silver badge
    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.

    1. Adam Williamson 1
      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...

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        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.

      2. Steve Roper
        Big Brother

        @Adam Williamson

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

    2. strangefish

      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.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      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?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      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.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    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!"

  4. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Ned Leprosy

      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.

  5. Steven Jones

    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.

    1. Someone Else Silver badge
      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....

  6. Stone Fox
    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.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    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>

    1. Ben Rosenthal

      re: Erm?

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

    2. Steen Hive
      FAIL

      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!

      1. Daniel Evans

        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.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        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.

        1. Steen Hive
          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.

    3. peter 45
      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

  8. Ralph B
    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?

  9. Richard Barclay
    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?

  10. OrientalHero
    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...

  11. Squirrel
    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.

  12. Martin Milan
    Thumb Down

    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!

  13. John Lilburne

    When does November the 5th come around again?

    When does November the 5th come around again?

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Err, that'd be

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

  14. Pete 2

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. M Gale

      s/nick/pub/;

      Fixed.

  15. Barton71
    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.

    1. JP19

      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.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      it was rhetorical

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

  18. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge
    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)!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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!

      1. Lamont Cranston
        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?

    2. Martin Milan
      Thumb Up

      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...

  19. Gary F
    FAIL

    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)

  20. Seven_Spades

    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.

  21. Dave Henderson 1
    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?

  22. Sean Hunter

    He's a muppet

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

  23. 46Bit
    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.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Steve Roper
      Thumb Up

      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?

    2. Jimbo 6
      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.

  25. JimC

    Stupid, yes

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

  26. Mark Scorah

    @ 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.

  27. brimful
    Flame

    I blame

    the f*ck wits who were on Jury Service. Having been on Jury Service before, I can honestly say that you don't have to find the defendant guilty even though his reputation is being dragged through the mud.

    Guy Fawkes, where are you?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      Takes one to know one?

      What's jury service got to do with this? He was found guilty in a Magistrates Court - no jury.

      1. brimful
        Flame

        My bad

        http://www.doncasterfreepress.co.uk/free-press-news/Jury-to-decide-fate-of.6277624.jp

        However, instead of attacking someone who has publicly commented on this forum with the potential of ridicule, maybe you should stop being an AC and voice your thoughts? After all it's easier to shoot someone down from the anonymity offered by AC than it is to let yourself be known for your thoughts.

        1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
          Stop

          But...

          ... the article clearly states that he was found guilty in Doncaster Magistrates' Court, hence no jury!

  28. Jez Burns

    Stuff

    Two notable things about this case - firstly that Paul Chambers wasn't convicted of a terrorism offence, therefore it couldn't be argued that he caused any security scare or disruption, or that his message was taken as a gesture of intent to bomb an airport. If he was, he could have argued his case and won. The fact that he was convicted under the 2003 Communications act makes the decision even more sinister. Secondly, he was tried by magistrates rather than a judge and jury. Magistrates have become the PCOS's of the judicial system. They are by and large untrained, legally illiterate political appointees, frightened to come to any decision that might upset the state or media.

    It is no accident that the Government who passed the nasty Communications Act (amongst many other equally oppressive laws) is the same one that has put in a concerted effort to abolish jury trials and massively increase the recruitment of magistrates. Real judges, the High Court and House of Lords (despite the bad press they all get) have been fighting a quiet, dignified but ultimately losing battle against abuse of power by the state for years.

    If the State, and by extension it's burgeoning bloc of patrons in the Police, CPS or Judiciary want to bring you down, the whole system is geared towards allowing them to do so. Chamber's conviction is likely to be quashed on appeal. In the meantime, hopefully a change of UK Government might help redress the damage that has been done to civil liberties over the last decade.

    1. PrivateCitizen
      Grenade

      Re: Stuff

      Well said Jez. If I could vote for you as Prime Minister I would (*) but you will have to settle for a thumbs up.

      All the crazies who want to be "tough on crime" and support the punishment with phrases like "threaten to blow up an airport and you deserve everything" should note that there was NO claim by the CPS that this was a terrorist related offence - as obviously that would be too easy for him to have defended.

      Instead, rather than be seen to waste police time, they waste even more and prosecute under the Communications Act.

      Evil and malicious with extra added helpings of spite.

      Shame on them all.

      -

      (*) It seems unfair that I cant vote for you when Nick Clegg gets to pick whoever he wants...

    2. Doshu
      Unhappy

      too right

      Sad to see a great country's justice system (and inevitably all that follows) circle the crapper.

      R.I.P. GB, we hardly knew ye.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Squirell

    He was fined £385, which while it's more that £200 it's not like they sent him to prison. The fact that the bench awarded £600 costs against him probably has more to do with the fact that he changed his plea than the offence of which he was found guilty.

    @Seven_Spades - Interesting definition of sarcasm and not one that's to be found in any of the dictionaries on my bookshelves. At best the tweet could be claimed to be ironic, but as has often been pointed out irony (and, indeed, sarcasm) is hard to detect in the written word, especially when shorn of context. The problem with irony or sarcasm in a tweet is that the very medium ensures that there is no hint of context.

    1. Arclight

      shawn the sheep?

      Forget context. How can any serious, sane minded person read that tweet as a very real threat against anyone?

  30. Ben Tasker Silver badge
    Coat

    I'm shocked

    I'm truly shocked at the number of comments supporting this guy!

    Don't get me wrong, there's too many people too paranoid about pedos/terrorists/bogeymen but WTF did he expect? Prosecution may seem a bit too far, but think about it;

    Step 1) You post a message on the net (in jest or otherwise) saying you're going to blow up an airport

    Step 2) It gets noticed

    Whether you posted in jest or not, there's going to be an investigation to see if it could be a real threat. So a simple joke is now costing the tax payer money.

    If anything the tw*t should have been done for wasting police time.

    On the plus side, at least he had to pay costs so it hasn't cost the taxpayer as much as it could have done.

    Ridiculous as this case may seem, it would be pretty f*cking ridiculous if true terrorists were able to avoid detection/investigation by posting in a sarcastic tone. It's shite but the guy should consider actually thinking before he goes anywhere near his keyboard.

    Let the flames begin, but I don't care I have an asbestos coat!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Finally...

      ... someone saying something of sense. Humour can not be detected online...

      Imagine a terrorist newsgroup online being written with "LOL" after every instruction and target, does that mean it is all in jest and should be ignored?

      You are an adult, live with the consequences of your actions!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        RE: Finally

        "Imagine a terrorist newsgroup online being written with "LOL" after every instruction and target, does that mean it is all in jest and should be ignored?"

        You see, normal people have the ability to parse text and get a feel for what is, and what isnt meant in jest.

        If the terrorist newsgroup never once made a reference to terrorism or any other form of violent extreemist action, previously and then suddenly said "lets bomb the embassy LOL" it would be different from one which constantly espouses such behaviour.

        "You are an adult, live with the consequences of your actions!"

        So lets track down who ever whined to th the authorites about the tweet and have them arrested (not only have they wasted police time but they potentially sparked of a terrorist incident that could have closed the airport, they are not innocent of the outcome so they should live with the consequences of their actions).

        Lets track down every policeman involved and prosecute them. What about the people who run twitter, lets get them as well.

        Alternatively we can all try to live like normal human beings and not shit ourselves at the thought of the bogeyman.

    2. Shakje

      So what do you think cost more?

      The cursory investigation needed to prove that he wasn't a terrorist? Or bringing it to court?

      1. Ben Tasker Silver badge
        Stop

        Sadly

        Probably the investigation itself.

        If you think about it;

        The Investigating Officer needs to be trained in the area

        Better training usually = better pay (though not always)

        And that's before you consider that he was ordered to pay the £600 costs of the CPS. I still think they'd have been better doing him for wasting police time, but the reality remains that the guy did a stupid thing and he's had to pay for it.

        If you're wondering why I believe the costs of the court case are less than the Investigation. Keep in mind most of the preparation will have been done by a civil servant of grade E1/E2 earning less than £10 an hour (trust me, I know this is true no matter what the DM may claim!). Obviously it'll have been a solicitor on the day, which will mount costs up.

        In comparison, most Terror Investigation Officers are Grade C2 (there may be some D's) which is 2 Grades above the E1 (3 above E2). So knowing that, which do you think cost more?

        Whether you think his joke was funny or not, you can't deny there's a large element of paranoia about terrorism in this country. Do you think it's smart to put your neck on the line by pretending to be one (whether in a humourous one line or otherwise).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      And that's probably part of the problem

      The idea that it needs an investigation by an intelligence agency to work out if this is a disgruntled attempted tourist or the culmination of weeks of terrorist plotting:

      "Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!"

      1. Ben Tasker Silver badge
        Go

        Nothing Unusual About That

        Given that it's a well know fact that terrorists speak in code, it's hardly surprising it was passed to a competent agency to investigate (Competent obviously referring to their area of expertise - no judgement on how they discharge their duties).

        The comment could be a joke, or it could be a true terrorist stating that he's going to hit the airport next week (not necessarily Robin Hood Airport either). If you argue that the code is likely to be more complex, I'd agree with you in general. But keep in mind, not all will have been probably trained/be that smart and may consider it cryptic enough.

        Hell the blatantness of it could even be a double bluff (i.e. no-one's going to suspect it because it's hidden in plain view)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      You have email in 1970s East Germany? Wow.

      "If anything the tw*t should have been done for wasting police time."

      But he wasnt. Why is that?

      "Ridiculous as this case may seem, it would be pretty f*cking ridiculous if true terrorists were able to avoid detection/investigation by posting in a sarcastic tone."

      Oh Noe, TRUE TERRORISTS - the really scary ones, that feel the need to advertise their attacks via Twitter on twitter streams with no prior history of any terrorist involvement. Yes, we have to be frightened of them, dont we. Especially as MI5 has a huge amount of credible reporting saying Robin Hood Airport is about to be attacked.

      What you are saying is because some **** saw a tweet and decided to report it to the police (probably for a laugh) someone should have their career ended. Seriously?

      The terrorists have won.

  31. JohnG

    Cutting the deficit

    This guy was/is plainly an idiot for posting such a message but if the CPS and other elements of law enforcement and judiciary in that part of the world have budget enough to waste on such utterly useless prosecution then they have just marked themselves as a primary target in the forthcoming round of drastic cuts in public expenditure. Some of them may soon be joining this chap down at the Jobcentre.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't

    Don't mess with football!

    If I were to say

    "If that slimy lying torture supporter basterd becomes the next PM I'm gonna shoot him in the cock" I suspect I would be guilty of some kind of crime.

    If I were to say instead

    "If that slimylying torture supporter basterd becomes the next PM I hope he gets shot in the cock"

    I'm fine? Or would that be insighting someone to commit an act of something or another?

  33. Krytan
    FAIL

    Idiocy... and yet not.

    Yeah, taking this all the way to court was a waste of tax payers money. However, the fines should have still been given.

    Joke or Not, someone had to investigate to make sure this wasn't an ACTUAL threat... fines pay for that person's salary.

    If you want to be an idiot and say openly on the internet that you're going to blow something up, you deserve whatever you get coming to you. Because the second law enforcement DOESN'T take a threat with some level of seriousness we get another tradegy where hunderds are killed.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Headmaster

    What a twatdangle

    An "ordinary citizen" doesn't do shit like this, especially when they're 26 and (presumably) can shave, cook for themselves and vote.

    If I were the judge, I'd have locked him up for four years.

    And as for his criminal record messing up his life:

    A. Well you shouldn't have become a criminal, should you young man. Especially when you're old enough to be a dad looking for secondary school placements.

    B. You can still get a job in a factory.

    C. Just tell any prospective employers, "Yeah whatever. Well, like, I was only just having a laugh, innit, yeah? And seriously though, no one, like, takes criminal records seriously in 2K10, innit? You get me, yeah?", and I'm sure they'll see sense and give you the job after all.

    D. Behave yourself in the future.

    E. Don't worry, the collective effort of a few hundred imaginary friends clicking on an online petition will overturn the full majesty of the law and get you your job and girlfriend back.

    Sorry, if this was a 16-year-old, I'd have sympathy. But the police and the CPS took one look at this 26-year-old man and did the right thing. Just think for a minute, if they didn't, they'd effectively be giving a green light for every other prat living in a fantasy world of second-hand childish banalities, to spout even more crap onto the Interwebs.

    1. Andrew_F
      WTF?

      Seriously, WTF?

      Criminal prosecution for internet hyperbole doesn't seem like overkill to you? And you think it will be effective in preventing childish banalities?

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Threat?

    This guy should have been hassled by the cops and nothing further. His message was obviously not a real threat. Charge him with something else. It was also a stupid idea, but that doesn't mean the rest of us have to be stupid.

  36. david 12 Silver badge

    reasonable belief

    In AUS it is specifically an offence to make comments that a reasonable person might reasonably believe is a threat to blow up an airport.

    And there are warning signs about that posted in every airport.

    And people do get arrested, and prosecuted, in great numbers (well, 100s over the last 10 years)

    And none of them have ever been found to have actually been making a threat.

    Which ought to raise the question, at what point does it no longer become reasonable to believe a threat? I mean, even if he is wearing a burka and carrying his shoes in his hands, surely by now they would have noticed that it is not reasonable to take these jokers seriously?

    Although I am told that most if not all of these idiots were booked after repeating the 'joke' to security staff, that still doesn't mean we have to waste court time on them.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Double standards

    Odd that it's in the public interest to give it the full Monty for an inadvisable but ultimately harmless public comment, yet those who wilfully reamed the taxpayer senseless for year after year with dodgy expense and wage claims largely avoid prosecution, as it's not in the public interest. I suspect we all know well which version of justice the public would be interested in seeing done.

    This sort of attitude to law enforcement makes for a great environment for those who wish to shop a pesky neighbour for littering, but a lousy one for those who might wish to report a genuine crime. and it makes Britain a slightly more depressing country to live in.

  38. Winkypop Silver badge
    FAIL

    All your airport are blown-up by us

    The law should protect the meek, the mild and, yes, even the idiotic (like this guy).

  39. Anthony Mark
    Joke

    He should stand for election in the next General Election.

    I know it's gonna be a long way off (or maybe not), but at least he's now fully qualified, as a convicted criminal, to take a seat in the Commons.

  40. lukewarmdog
    Badgers

    actually

    Any decent risk management would have determined he just said something stupid. We don't lock people up for saying stupid things under normal circumstances.

    But you know what? If I had said something stupid on Twitter and had the police round and was looking at a fine and job loss etc... the first thing to go would be my Twiter account, lesson learned. Apparently not in this case.

    Still, at least it got the police out and about and whilst they were dealing with this guy they weren't harrassing any photograhers or performing a stop and search on Mark Thomas just for smiling.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Joke?

    Aren't jokes supposed to be funny?

    14 year habitually say a do things which land them in hot water and claim that they were "only joking" as if that makes it OK. One of the things we learn when we grow up is to know when a joke is appropriate and when it's a bloody stupid idea. By the time most of us are in our twenties we've figured out what is and is not a correct forum for our "jokes".

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge
      FAIL

      Re: Joke

      "By the time most of us are in our twenties we've figured out what is and is not a correct forum for our jokes."

      Yeah, and no right minded person *ever* mucks about on Twitter. Twitter's SERIOUS, man!

      No-one who took this seriously should be involved in airport security or police investigations. They are just too stupid.

  42. Ben Rosenthal
    Grenade

    nt

    this very silly affair makes CPS and Judicial system look like blithering idiots at best and darkly malicious blithering idiots at worst.

  43. Simon R. Bone
    FAIL

    Because...

    .... all the major terrorist masterminds reveal their plans on Twitter beforehand - can't wait to see the next James Bond... "The Spy with My Face(book)"?

  44. FailKing
    FAIL

    The CPS

    Good to see the CPS have plenty of time to bring this non-case to court, yet they can't even decide if it's in the publics interest to bring Phorm and BT to court for real crimes. How long have they been reviewing the evidence in that case? 1 and a half years? One dumb rule for the man on teh street and another for corporate entities.

  45. M Gale
    Badgers

    Right, that does it.

    One more story about an idiot being treated like they are channeling Osama Bin Handle in spirit form, and I blow the Houses of Parliament up.

    Hold on, I hear a battering ram at the door. One moment please!

  46. Richard Jukes
    Thumb Up

    About time

    Its about time some people were made examples of, the internet is a medium just like any other and what people say on it needs to be responsible and they should be held accountable for it.

    Libel/Slander/Defamation laws do exist on the internet, as do other laws. Think before you post. As someone else quite rightly said, no one in the right mind would stand on a soap box in the centre of town and say what Paul Chambers said. The internet is NOT the wild west anymore, laws ARE applicable.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: About time

      "As someone else quite rightly said, no one in the right mind would stand on a soap box in the centre of town and say what Paul Chambers said."

      On the contrary, I'm pretty sure that comedians make similar remarks in the national media (both print and broadcast) on a weekly basis. Context is everything, and this was a Tweet from a pissed off traveller in response to an airport closure.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Quite right

      The major problem here is that too many people think that the likes of Twitter and Facebook and all that other social networking cock are somehow private, and that somehow things you post on their are no more public than a telephone conversation. The news is full of people who have been sacked or prosecuted or otherwise come to grief because of their web 2.0 postings, but these cock ends still don't get it. It isn't private it's there for anybody to view.

      I'm sure we all know some fucktard who's ended up in a fight because of some unguarded remark made in a public place, most usually a drinking establishment. Imagine every social networking site to be that pub, but where your words hang in the air for months or even years after you said them. Imagine some bloke going into the pub months after you were there, hearing what you said about his sister and popping round to your house with his mates to give you a good kicking. That's social networking.

      It's reasonable to assume that your email communication will be fairly private. Had he sent that message to a friend and that friend had forwarded it to the airport then it would be a reasonable defence, or at least a plea in mitigation, that the communication was private. However posting it on a public web site and believing it to be private is niaive in the extreme.

      Since this bloke has already shown himself to be hopelessly immature so there's no suprise that niaive to.

    3. CD001

      What...

      What do you REALLY think would happen if you did plonk a soapbox down in the middle of a town centre and vent your frustration at an airport that had just canned your flight? Seriously?

      I strongly suspect the police would question you but, unless they found (or created) evidence to the contrary you'd just be told not to be a prat and sent on your way - unless you aggravated them of course*. Then they might decide you were genuinely attempting to incite terrorism and use the full extent of the law to fuck you right over.

      Funny thing is though - it's perfectly OK for the God botherers to threaten me with eternal damnation, via loud-hailer, or everyone else on the street when we're just minding our own business walking through town. If I wasn't so wary of getting involved with the police, ever, I might try reporting one for threatening my eternal soul.

      *this can be done in any number of ways, owning a camera or even just looking at them "a bit funny" is apparently enough.

  47. Jo 5
    Flame

    Is there a line?

    Im gonna blow the whole galaxy (this one) sky high you bastards!! With a mentos and diet cola combo device. muhahahahah. come get me now you facist buggers!!. . . .doh oh fair cop

  48. Stephen Byrne
    WTF?

    Free Speech indeed

    Why do so many people think Free Speech means you can say what you want with no consequence?

    Joke or no -- and I challenge *anyone* to prove, given the tweet in question, BEFORE it had been explained that is was in jest, that it was indeed a joke-- he still assaulted every single person working in and travelling through the airport by "saying" something that would put them in fear for their own safety.

    Plus, the idiot didn't do himself any favours with his childish attitude after the fact, so they probably decided to prosecute just to spite him.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Fail

      Innocent until proven guilty means they dont have to prove the tweet was in jest, they have to prove malicious intent.

      Notice he wasnt charged with terrorist related activity.

      How many people travelling through the airport or working there felt in danger?

      What sort of fcuked up society do we live in where people are so frightened of evil terrorists that we can no longer identify a stream of pressure-releasing ranting. Do *you* or anyone else really think that terrorist groups suddenly, out of the blue, post advance warnings of their intent? Seriously?

      There are a lot of commentards here who really, really need to get laid.

  49. Paul 5

    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."

    Staggering!

    Two points:

    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.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Re: Jury Trial

      IANAL but the offence he was charged with is an "either way" offence.

      He (and the magistrate) could have elected to have the case tried in Crown Court (i.e. with a Jury), though the Crown Court is able to give stiffer punishment. It's quite possible he was advised against going to Crown Court in order to avoid stiffer penalties.

      In case anyone is under the mis-apprehension you ALWAYS get a choice, you don't. In fact even with an "either way" offence, they don't necessarily have to give you the choice.

      HTH

  50. MyHeadIsSpinning
    Flame

    Speaking as the man...

    ...who rides the Clapham omnibus, it is clear to me that the man who posted this message made a politically incorrect joke; and whilst it wasn't very funny, it was clearly not a threat from a terrorist.

    I am annoyed that the legal system has pounced on this as a way to make a quick buck out of this non-story.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Richard Jukes

    Except that had he been on his soap box on the street, given that they were not going to be charging him under the terrorism act as they seemed to have realised it was a "joke", they couldn't have got around it and charged him under the communications act.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Well the police are idiots...

    Real terrorists would have used an encrypted message not on a public forum and probably through a VPN or two, I doubt they would use twitter and post from an account tracable back to them how idiotic would you have to be.

    What next, get taken to court for posting encrypted messages on twitter because it might be a bomb threat? They should have just put his name on the blacklist so he gets searched everytime he goes to the airport ^^.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      YEEEESSSSS....

      <russian>That's Exactly What We Want You to Think</russian>

      In answer your question, Idiotic enough to think that the plot a fictional tale written thousands of years ago is a viable reason to kill yourself.

  53. bexley
    Big Brother

    nobody has said it yet

    so here goes

    They nailed him to make an example out of him to deter other people from making jokes about blowing things up.

    It's pretty obvious why they nailed him.

    Yes it is a big brither thing and yes they are basically telling us all "dont even think about making a joke about blowing stuff up, it's hard enough trying to catch the real terrists let alone the hundreds of comdians"

    So i see if from both views, convicting somebody like this is not the answer though.

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