Twitter joke man loses appeal over bomb hoax

A British man convicted of 'menace' for threatening to blow up an airport in a joke post on Twitter has lost another appeal against his sentence.

Paul Chambers, a 27-year-old accountant from Doncaster, had hoped to overturn the £1,000 fine handed down by a court in May. Instead, Judge Jacqueline Davies dismissed Chambers's appeal on every count.

The judge ruled that Chambers's 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!!" - contained menace, and that Chambers must have known that it might be taken seriously.

Chambers sent the message to a follower on Twitter named @crazycolours, a young woman he intended to visit in Northern Ireland. Chambers told an earlier hearing that he was worried heavy snow might ruin the pair's plans.

The public tweet followed a private message sent by Chambers the previous night, in which he joked about hijacking a plane, adding that its pilots might expect to be diverted to somewhere more exotic than Northern Ireland.

Chambers's conviction in May caused a storm of protest - not least because it was made under the Communications Act 2003, after prosecutors realised their original charges under the Terrorism Act would have required greater evidence of intent.

Slamming the conviction, Chambers's barrister, Stephen Ferguson, referred to evidence given at the earlier hearing by the South Yorkshire police officer who arrested Chambers. The officer told the court there was "no evidence that this was other than a foolish joke".

The ruling comes as a second Briton, Conservative councillor Gareth Compton, faces the threat of charges over another 'joke' made on Twitter, in which he is alleged to have called for the stoning of journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

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