Way back in 2010, Paul Chambers was convicted by a UK Magistrates Court for tweeting the following note of exasperation: "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!!"
Today, he has seen that conviction quashed on appeal to the High Court, where it was deemed that the spirit and tone of his outburst was so self-evidently humorous as to not pose any real threat. The longwinded explanation of this "menacing character" test is provided by the High Court's judgment, as quoted by the BBC:
"If the person or persons who receive or read it, 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."
Paul has found widespread support in his efforts to have the seemingly absurd initial judgment overturned, from fellow social network users who flocked to make similar faux threats to activist celebrities like Stephen Fry and Al Murray — both of whom accompanied him on one of his appearances in court.
Pops head up quickly: complete vindication and victory for Paul Chambers in #twitterjoketrial. Well done @DavidAllenGreen and team. Bye!— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) July 27, 2012
The High Court's ruling gives Paul the vindication he has been seeking for so long, though his representative in the British Parliament, the oft-controversial Louise Mensch, is asking for even more: a full apology from the Crown Prosecution Service for "a shameful prosecution that should never have been brought."
CPS owe my constituent @pauljchambers and the country a huge apology for a shameful prosecution that should never have been brought— Louise Mensch (@LouiseMensch) July 27, 2012