Twitter Joke Goes to the High Court


One tweet cost this man two jobs and a criminal conviction, so now he’s making his final appeal.

Unemployed former trainee accountant Paul Chambers is headed off to the High Court of England and Wales to have his appeal heard. If successful, he’s hoping to have his criminal conviction expunged. You may remember Chambers as the man who threatened to blow up an airport, in the tweet heard around the world: “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!!” That tweet got him prosecuted and convicted under terrorism legislation.

Chambers later claimed that the tweet was “like having a bad day at work and stating that you could murder your boss,” adding that he “didn’t even think about whether it would be taken seriously.” It was, and very seriously. Plainclothes police arrested him at his place of work, and the trial that followed left him with a criminal conviction and GBP1,000 (over$1,500) worth of fines and costs, under provisions of the 2003 Communications Act. It also cost him his job. He appealed, lost, and his fines and costs went up to GBP3,000 total (over $4,500). He also lost his second job, as his employers caught wind of the so-called bomb threat and promptly kicked him to the curb.

If Kafka wasn’t already dead, he’d be ghosting Chambers’ life story by now. Chambers, currently unemployed at the age of 28 and possibly unemployable given his history, is living in Ireland with the woman he had hoped to visit that day when Robin Hood airport was closed. At the time the airport – shut because of the weather – was unaffected by Chambers’ tweet, and an operations manager later said the effect of Chambers’ threat was “operationally nothing. It had no impact [on the airport].” The effect it had on Chambers’ life was considerably more impactful.

Stupid things are said on Twitter every minute of every day. Chambers is living proof that, if you’re unlucky enough, the idiotic thing you tweet can cost you pretty much your entire life and prospects for the future.

Source & Image: The Guardian

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