Twitter bomb joker is guilty

Darren Allan

May 10, 2010

You may remember, back in January, we ran a story about the “Twitter twit” who made a joke about blowing up Robin Hood airport in a tweet.

Paul Chambers was disgruntled due to the possibility of the winter’s snow disrupting his travel plans, and decided to put the ill-considered joke up on his Twitter account in a moment of pique.

If the snow wasn’t cleared and the Yorkshire airport opened before he was due to fly, he said: “I’m blowing the airport sky high!”

Then the police turned up and arrested him under the Terrorism Act, illustrating exactly why matters like this shouldn’t be joked about in this day and age.

Mr Chambers has just been found guilty of sending a menacing message at Doncaster magistrates.

He was ordered to pay a fine of £385, plus £600 costs, leaving him a grand out of pocket.

Of course, as Paul points out himself on his Twitter page, he now has a criminal record, which will potentially make his career choices a lot more limited in the future.

Indeed, he lost his job at a car distribution firm over the incident, The Times reports.

On his Twitter account, Mr Chambers posted that he is “currently considering an appeal. Half of me just wants it to be over, the other half is indignant.”

Clearly it was a tasteless joke, but equally clearly, the response seems disproportionate to us.


Comments in chronological order (3 comments)

  1. Reinhold says:

    So the official UK has now created a “criminal”, someone’s life and career is destroyed, by police and the justice system. How can this be fair? Can the judge sleep well at night with having this on the conscience? There are real criminals who get less punishment (e.g. the yobs who molest innocent people). All what Mr Chambers has done was to write a few words. It appears that the freedom of speech is vanishing in the UK, and a perverse totalitarism takes hold.

  2. This case highlights just how the boundaries between what people do in their professional and private lives continue to blur online, and just how important it is for organisations to develop guidelines for social media usage sooner rather than later.

    Simply banning staff from tweeting at work might sound like the obvious option, but this could do more harm than good. Thousands of workers use Twitter every day to connect with colleagues and customers, and even hire new members of staff. In fact, a lot of companies are successfully using the social network to proactively provide customer service, keep tabs on competitors and promote company news.

    So rather than banning staff from tweeting at work, employers should work closely with them to ensure that they fully understand that comments made online are public and could be associated with the company, regardless of whether or not they are made in a professional capacity.

  3. james says:

    what stupidness…

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