UK High Court Rules Twitter Terror Joke Just a Joke

UK High Court Rules Twitter Terror Joke Just a Joke

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A UK Lord Chief Justice has decreed that bad taste on Twitter isn't necessarily illegal.

Paul Chambers, the man who Tweeted about blowing up Robin Hood Airport in Sheffield and was convicted of sending menacing threats under Communications Act legislation, has had his appeal against conviction granted by the UK High Court. Lord Chief Justice Judge and his fellow Justices agreed that the Tweet - "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!!" - could not, on its face, constitute a credible threat. Chambers, who lost two jobs and was heavily fined as a result of his previous convictions, said he was "relieved and vindicated" by the result.

It all turned on Chambers' state of mind when he posted the Tweet. "We would merely emphasise that ... the mental element of the offence is directed exclusively to the state of the mind of the offender," said the Lord Chief Justice in his formal judgment, "and that if he may have intended the message as a joke, even if a poor joke in bad taste, it is unlikely that the mens rea required before conviction for the offence of sending a message of a menacing character will be established." In other words, Chambers' joke was just a joke, so there was no intent and therefore no crime.

Possibly the most depressing thing about the Chambers case is the revelation that nobody - except for the Crown Prosecution Service - believed it ought to have come to trial. Airport staff thought it wasn't worth bothering with, and had no effect on operations. The police who arrested Chambers said, in their official record, that "there is no evidence at this stage to suggest that there is anything other than a foolish comment posted on Twitter as a joke for only his close friends to see." Yet they all passed the matter up the chain of command and it ultimately ended up in front of the CPS, which thought the mens rea could be proved. It's galling to think that one of the messages of the Chambers trial is perhaps some things shouldn't be recorded or reported, for fear of escalating a minor issue into something much more serious.

In a statement following the trial, Chambers' solicitor, David Allen Green, said "this shameful prosecution should never have been brought. For two and a half years the CPS have adopted a ridiculous position. There are very serious questions for the director of public prosecutions to answer in this case. We welcome this very clear judgment that sets out a high threshold for what constitutes a menacing character."

Source: Guardian

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Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you the joke that is my countries government/legal system...

Anyone could have told you it's a joke, who on earth would threaten to blow up an airport (and mean it) because it's closed? Talk about a waste of time and money for something which was meant as a joke.

This is the best news i've heard all day. Convicting a man for a joke on Twitter is absolutely outrageous.

I love my country. They provide free entertainment to the masses.

WHAT THE FUCK? Whoever thought that was a serious threat needs to die in a fire.

Hahahahahahaha, oh your serious... I facepalm everyday for humanity when I see things like this happen.
Also why would a terrorist broadcast their plans on twitter, were the cops high when they arrested him?

Holy shit Batman! Common sense has prevailed. I actually read the whole judgement earlier. A whole load of legal talk basically amounting to "come on guys, you can't be arresting people for obviously joking!"

Good for the guy and his girlfriend. They live in Corby, where I live, so they must be awesome.

Finally, justice. Now he needs a formal apology and compensation for the loss of his livelihood.

Hearing stories like this makes me wish Have I Got News For You was still on.......

GenGenners:
Hearing stories like this makes me wish Have I Got News For You was still on.......

Personally I would have loved to see Spitting Image's take on this, but I agree with the sentiment. ;)

devotedsniper:
Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you the joke that is my countries government/legal system...

Anyone could have told you it's a joke, who on earth would threaten to blow up an airport (and mean it) because it's closed? Talk about a waste of time and money for something which was meant as a joke.

Agreed. I suppose it is a saving grace that the Judge had the sense others quite clearly did not, but the fact that this had to actually go to court in order for this to be spelled out to people is just sad.

Yes, we live in an age where terrorist attacks are a credible threat and that sucks. However, it seems quite obvious to me that the objective of 'terror' tactics is to make people scared. Even if a man doesn't succeed in blowing up whatever he was planning to blow up, making people so scared of the very possibility that they lose their shit every time they even so much as read or hear the word 'Bomb', means that he has accomplished something. If we get so scared of the threat of terrorism that we undermine our own values as an attempt to defend against it, like taking people to court over the most obvious off-handed joke, then we're falling on our own sword, and the people who actually do want to blow up airports, can watch as we do their own work for them.

If sense were gunpowder the Crown Prosecution Service wouldn't have enough to bring down a cessna.

devotedsniper:
Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you the joke that is my countries government/legal system...

Anyone could have told you it's a joke, who on earth would threaten to blow up an airport (and mean it) because it's closed? Talk about a waste of time and money for something which was meant as a joke.

It isn't just your gov't. Here in the US, it seems that political officials, police, and the court are trying to piss people off. They lack any sort of decency or common sense.

devotedsniper:
Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you the joke that is my countries government/legal system...

Anyone could have told you it's a joke, who on earth would threaten to blow up an airport (and mean it) because it's closed? Talk about a waste of time and money for something which was meant as a joke.

If our government is a joke it isn't very funny, I'm not laughing at all the retarded bullshit they've pulled since they gained power.

Higher taxes, higher tuition fees for education, etc.
All helps with the whole economic development thing and totally hasn't fucked us up completely.

OT: Why did it get this far? Stupid country...

Aussie502:
This is the best news i've heard all day. Convicting a man for a joke on Twitter is absolutely outrageous.

I mean, unless it's a racist joke or something, right? Or they said something mean about a recently dead celebrity. In that case, it's serious business and we should hang the fuckers. How dare they share an opinion contrary to public sentiment in a place where very few people are likely to see it?

These people are like the kids Hitler disowned for being too evil.

GenGenners:
Hearing stories like this makes me wish Have I Got News For You was still on.......

...isn't it? Maybe I'm caught in a Dave timewarp, but there seems to be relatively new ones quite frequently.

(according to Wikipedia, it's listed as being produced 28th September 1990 - present)

DeltasDix:
WHAT THE FUCK? Whoever thought that was a serious threat needs to die in a fire.

I'm reporting you, I'm pretty sure that saying someone should die in a fire is equivalent to saying you're going to blow them up.

SonicWaffle:

GenGenners:
Hearing stories like this makes me wish Have I Got News For You was still on.......

...isn't it? Maybe I'm caught in a Dave timewarp, but there seems to be relatively new ones quite frequently.

(according to Wikipedia, it's listed as being produced 28th September 1990 - present)

No, the next series doesn't start till autumn. The previous series finished about a month back I think.

You'd think Olympics season would be a good time for a series, but I'm not the producers, so I dunno.......

GenGenners:

SonicWaffle:

GenGenners:
Hearing stories like this makes me wish Have I Got News For You was still on.......

...isn't it? Maybe I'm caught in a Dave timewarp, but there seems to be relatively new ones quite frequently.

(according to Wikipedia, it's listed as being produced 28th September 1990 - present)

No, the next series doesn't start till autumn. The previous series finished about a month back I think.

You'd think Olympics season would be a good time for a series, but I'm not the producers, so I dunno.......

Aaaah, when you said you wished it was still on, I thought you meant it had been cancelled.

With a show like that, and our current (and, to be fair, previous and most likely future) government being such a fucking shambles, there's never a bad time for a series. Politicians will continue giving the gang ammo faster than they can think up jokes.

DeltasDix:
WHAT THE FUCK? Whoever thought that was a serious threat needs to die in a fire.

won't he see that statement as a real threat, too? : D

SkarKrow:

If our government is a joke it isn't very funny, I'm not laughing at all the retarded bullshit they've pulled since they gained power.

Higher taxes, higher tuition fees for education, etc.
All helps with the whole economic development thing and totally hasn't fucked us up completely.

OT: Why did it get this far? Stupid country...

I don't vote because I view all the politicians as liars, they waste our money on things we didn't need (e.g. Olympics) instead of spending it on things we do need (e.g. jobs, roads resurfacing not just a stupid patch job). And as for high tuition fees they promised they wouldn't raise them...they only kept them at the same price for current students (me luckily), I've given up caring.

DeltasDix:
WHAT THE FUCK? Whoever thought that was a serious threat needs to die in a fire.

Calm down smokey, you might be next if some naive person in power sees that.

This paints a perfect picture of the civilized world today. Everyone is raid of terrorists. We've all been conditioned to be afraid of EVERYTHING because EVERYTHING could possibly be a terrorist threat. We are losing our ability to laugh and enjoy life. I blame sensationalist media most of the time. And of course politicians and actual terrorists.

Holy crap finally! Wow, it was a bad joke but seriously the guy wasn't serious. Only push through with a prosecution if he genuinely was planning to blow it up, or caused fear... but common sense should have prevailed.

Mistakes like this within the justice system are nothing but incompetence. A waste of time, money, credibility and respect.

I just hope he gets his job security back, it is outrageous that somebody could be fired (twice) for that kind of thing.

DeltasDix:
WHAT THE FUCK? Whoever thought that was a serious threat needs to die in a fire.

Was that a threat?
Oh you are in trouble now boy.

"Ohhhhhh. Now I get it!" - Director of Public Prosecutions

Hooray! 1 point for sanity! The score is now a bajillion to 1. The comeback is on!

imnotparanoid:

DeltasDix:
WHAT THE FUCK? Whoever thought that was a serious threat needs to die in a fire.

Was that a threat?
Oh you are in trouble now boy.

Hello, this is Nigel Cockringe, petty officer of the British police. What is your relation to Mr.Dix?

devotedsniper:

SkarKrow:

If our government is a joke it isn't very funny, I'm not laughing at all the retarded bullshit they've pulled since they gained power.

Higher taxes, higher tuition fees for education, etc.
All helps with the whole economic development thing and totally hasn't fucked us up completely.

OT: Why did it get this far? Stupid country...

I don't vote because I view all the politicians as liars, they waste our money on things we didn't need (e.g. Olympics) instead of spending it on things we do need (e.g. jobs, roads resurfacing not just a stupid patch job). And as for high tuition fees they promised they wouldn't raise them...they only kept them at the same price for current students (me luckily), I've given up caring.

I've been watching the olympics a bit but only because I've been without tv channels on vacation.

I got the lower fees too but now I'm thinking my course isn't for me, so I'm really rather fucked.

As for resurfacing, I'm assuming you live in England, as do I. In my experience it's only England that can't manage to resurface rads quickly and efficiently, whenever I've been to Scotland or Wales they seem to manage resurfacing a stretch of road very easy. I.e. I went to Skye, they resurfaced the entire islands roadways in a day, while it is a small place, that's a lot better than we get here in England.

 

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