Paul Chambers was at the High Court in London to try and overturn a criminal conviction for menacing use of a public communication system following a tweet.
The infamous tweet was published on Twitter in January 2010 when snow started to fall. At the time Chambers was planning a trip to Northern Ireland to visit a friend. Upon seeing the snow and hearing Robin Hood Airport had closed as a result, Chambers tweeted:
“Cr@p! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get you $#!* together otherwise I’M blowing the airport sky high!!”
Mr Chambers who had 690 followers and was a trainee accountant was later arrested and charged and then sentence by local magistrates to £1000.00 fine. The consequences of which resulted in him losing his job.
Lawyers for Mr Chambers have argued that his tweet was not intend to menace the airport authorities and was “a jest, a joke, a parody”. Along the appeal route Mr Chambers has attracted celebratory support and we all now wait to see whether his appeal is successful. However, this is a prime example of when tweeting goes wrong!!
Following on from that, I imagine that the prolific tweeter, footballer Joey Barton with over 1.2 million followers breathed a sigh of relief when he escaped the wrath of the Attorney General Dominic Grieve after he decided not prosecute him for his recent twitter comments regarding the impending court case of fellow footballer John Terry.
It was widely suggested that Mr Barton’s series of tweets may have prejudiced the trial and Mr Barton facing a charge of contempt of court.
The Contempt of Court Act 1981 states that once someone is arrested or charged, there should be no public comments about them which could risk prejudicing their trial.
Mr Grieve found that on the facts of Mr Barton’s tweets were not in contempt and stated on the Today programme when being questioned on whether the contempt of court laws were obsolete :
‘I think the contempt of court laws work perfectly well. It was never the object of the contempt laws that it was going to stop every little piece of tittle tattle around a dinner table or in a pub. It is not possible.’
So the lesson learnt is think before you tweet and then think again!!!