Chambers to appeal Twitter trial decision

The legal team of a man found guilty of sending a 'menacing' tweet will challenge the decision in the High Court.Paul Chambers' legal team said in a statement on Monday that it will fight a decision by Doncaster Crown Court to turn down Chambers' appeal against the conviction.

The legal team of a man found guilty of sending a 'menacing' tweet will challenge the decision in the High Court.

Paul Chambers' legal team said in a statement on Monday that it will fight a decision by Doncaster Crown Court to turn down Chambers' appeal against the conviction.

"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," said the statement by law firm Prieskel & Co on Monday.

Section 127 of the Communications Act covers improper use of communications networks. In May Chambers was convicted by Doncaster Magistrates' Court of sending a 'menacing' tweet. Chambers sent the Tweet in January after Robin Hood airport was closed due to adverse weather conditions.

"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!!" the tweet said.

David Allen Green, head of media law at Prieskel & Co, told ZDNet UK on Monday that Chambers would appeal on the grounds that Doncaster Crown Court had interpreted the law badly, and that the decision would have ramifications for social media.

"We're still putting the grounds together, but [the challenge] will be on a point of law," said Green. "We're going to argue that the courts adopted the wrong tests — that's the only basis for an appeal of this type."

Green said that the grounds for the appeal would be based on whether Chambers' case met the intention requirements in the Communications Act; what kind of 'menacing' character was required for a conviction; and what the crown court decision would mean for social media.

"[Section 127] was an offence intended for nuisance telephone callers," said Green. "This is the first time this offence has been applied to social media. Has parliament [unwittingly] created a new offence that covers email and other electronic communications?"

Green said that there should be a full High Court hearing early next year.

The decision by Doncaster Crown Court to turn down Chambers' appeal sparked a Twitter campaign earlier this month. Thousands of people retweeted Chambers' original tweet, with the #iamspartacus hashtag, while celebrity Stephen Fry offered to pay Chambers' £1,000 fine.

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