Comedian Stephen Fry has attended a court hearing to support a British man appealing his conviction over a tweet saying he would blow a snowed-in airport “sky high”.
Paul Chambers, 27, from Doncaster, was convicted in May 2010 of sending a “menacing electronic communication” for a tweet that said: “Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your **** together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”
Chambers has attracted the support of several British comedians and he was accompanied by Fry and stand-up comic Al Murray to his High Court appeal on Wednesday.
Fry said the outcome of the case would be “very important” for freedom of speech, the BBC reported.
I agree that it is. We all understand you do not joke about bombs at airports. But joking about them on Twitter is rather different.
“God I hope common sense and natural justice prevail,” he later tweeted.
Chambers was fined NZ$1962 for his tweet, which he wrote when a snowstorm closed the airport and stopped him from flying to Northern Ireland to visit a woman he’d just met.
The Guardian reported the tweet was seen a week later by an off-duty airport worker who passed it on to authorities.
This is the astonishing thing. If the tweet had been seen at the time and taken seriously, I could understand why they might proceed. But they saw it a week later. Massive over-reaction.
The Guardian said Mr Cooper said if jokes were tested in courts, poet John Betjeman may have thought twice about writing “Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough”, adding “and Shakespeare when he said ‘kill all the lawyers’.”
The Lord Judge replied: “That was a good joke in 1600 and it is still a good joke now.”
Sounds like the Judge has a sense of humour, and may let sanity prevail.