An appeal decision in the Twitter Joke Trial is to be handed down by Lord Chief Justice at the Royal Courts of Justice tomorrow morning [27 July].
Last month Paul Chambers appealed his conviction for having jokingly tweeted in January 2010 that he would blow Nottingham’s Robin Hood airport “sky high” if his planned flight to Northern Ireland to visit his now-fiancee would be affected by the weather.
He was found guilty at Doncaster magistrates court of sending a message via public electronic communications that was “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character, contrary to the Communications Act 2003″. Chambers was fined £385, and ordered to pay £600 in costs. He also lost his job.
The trial has become a landmark case for freedom of expression in the UK, highlighting the tension between the legal system and advances in social communication. Chambers has had the support of some leading British comedians, including Graham Linehan, Stephen Fry and Al Murray.
Writing for Index on Censorship in November 2010, comedy writer Graham Linehan said:
This is the kind of case that would make me refuse jury service. It obliterates my confidence in the judicial system. Why should I let people who don’t “get it” have any power over me or anyone else?
We’re trying to evolve here, and the people who don’t get it are slowing us down. If they can’t keep up, they need to get out of the way.
Comedian and broadcaster Paul Sinha added:
The irony is that all over the worldwide web, anonymous internet warriors are only to happy to incite hatred and murder, and surely this is where the appropriate resources should be directed.