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Friday, 27 July 2012

How tweet it is to see commmon sense!!

I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that the Court of Appeal judges avidly read this blog.

But it is encouraging when they agree! In fact it is simple common sense which has prevailed in the case of Paul Chambers.

You will recall from a couple of weeks ago that this was the case where he had been prosecuted and convicted of terrorist related offences after tweeting the words - "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!!"

He was given a fine and ordered to pay costs.

His appeal against conviction was supported by Stephen Fry and other celebrities and has been successful.

The Court of Appeal said that you had to ask yourself how a person would react to the words –

"If the person or persons who receive or read it, (the message) or may reasonably be expected to receive, or read it, would brush it aside as a silly joke, or a joke in bad taste, or empty bombastic or ridiculous banter, then it would be a contradiction in terms to describe it as a message of a menacing character."

In reality nobody reading his tweet would have believed for one minute that he was intending to blow up the airport. If he had said it in normal conversation it would not have been taken literally. So why should the fact that it is contained in 140 characters make it threatening?

What is alarming is that it has taken him two appeals to clear his name.

This does not alter the need to be very careful about what you put in those 140 characters. But it is good to see common sense prevail and to know that our most senior appeal judges have shown a better understanding than we saw in the earlier  courts - and given us all some clear guidance.

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