Outrage at Twitter joke ruling

Comics express disbelief

Comedians have reacted with disbelief and outrage after Paul Chambers lost his appeal against his conviction for ‘menace’ for sending a joke tweet about blowing up an airport.

Judge Jacqueline Davies dismissed the 27-year-old’s appeal on every count, finding that his original Twitter message contained menace and ruling that he must have known that it might be taken seriously.

Chambers lost his financial manager's job after his arrest in January over the tweet, which said: ‘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!!

He was originally ordered to pay £384 with £600 costs, but today the court ordered him to pay a further £2,000 legal bill for the latest proceedings.

Stephen Fry has offered to pay the fine, tweeting Chambers direct: ‘My offer still stands. Whatever they fine you, I'll pay.’

Other comedians expressing their frustration at the verdict, which could have repercussions for comics posting gags on Twitter, include Dara O Briain, who said: ‘So that's the banning of sarcasm, irony, sub-text and any of the other subtleties of language that we use as grown-up.

David Mitchell added: ‘A disgrace. He's being punished for flippancy.’

While David Schneider tweeted: ‘OK, I know some people are unfamiliar with Twitter, but are they also unfamiliar with humour.

And comedy actress and writer Sharon Horgan wrote: ‘Judge Jacqueline Davis; that is unbelievably poor judging. you massive idiot.’

Many Twittter users posted threats of their own to highlight the stupidity of the case. Peter Serafinowicz said: ‘I'm going to blow up the #twitterjoketrial courtroom.’

And Dave Gorman said: ‘I can't tell you what I'd like to do to the judge at the #TwitterJokeTrial for fear of it leading to another #TwitterJokeTrial Awful news.’

Chambers himself tweeted: ‘Although this judgement wasn't as unexpected as the first one, it hurts more.

‘Thanks for the support today, from both everyone on here and all who turned up at the court. You've kept a weary man on his feet.’

Published: 11 Nov 2010

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