Paul Chambers, a British accountant was tried and fined for the Twitter ‘tweet’ which read:
“Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week to get your shit together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!”
He is now to take his case to the High Court of England and Wales.
Chambers made the tweet in May 2010, and was subsequently and found guilty of “sending a menacing electronic communication” under section 127 of the Communications Act.
Earlier this month, his conviction was upheld by Doncaster Crown Court, prompting today’s announcement that Chambers, 27, and his new lawyer, Ben Emmerson QC, intend to take their case to the highest authority, the High Court, in order to clarify two points: whether or not a “tweet” on Twitter constitutes an “electronic communication”; and “what constitutes a menacing communication”.
Paul Chambers’ solicitors, Preiskel & Co LLP, produced the following explanation on their website:
Our client Paul Chambers has decided today to proceed with a High Court challenge to his conviction under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003. Paul was convicted on 10 May 2010 by Doncaster Magistrates’ Court and his appeal was turned down by Doncaster Crown Court on 11 November 2010.
Paul has instructed David Allen Green, head of media law at Preiskel & Co, and Ben Emmerson QC of Matrix Chambers, one of the UK’s leading human rights and criminal lawyers, for this challenge. Stephen Ferguson of 2 Bedford Row and Sarah Przybylska of 2 Hare Court, who appeared at the Crown Court hearing, also continue to be instructed.
The case is being referred to as #twitterjoketrial on the social network, Twitter, and Chambers’ original message has been “retweeted” many hundreds of times following his conviction, as sympathetic users seek to prove a point.
The outcome of this case will have important ramifications regarding freedom of speech and whether or not comments made on a social network is regarded, legally, as a public communication.