The Curmudgeon


Friday, September 24, 2010

Twitter Terror Tweeter Trial Terror Trap

Last January, thanks to the snow, a trainee accountant named Paul Chambers was foiled in his fiendish plan to meet a woman. "Crap!" he posted on Twitter. "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!!" A week later anti-terrorist officers came to his workplace and arrested him under a (rather surprisingly) pre-Blairite law which is meant to deal with hoaxers who make credible threats to blow things up. A district judge declared himself satisfied that the message was of a "menacing nature in the context of the times we live in", since nothing is more credible than that a terrorist would give a week's advance warning using his own identity, and fined Chambers a thousand pounds. At his appeal today, Chambers' lawyer said that the message was "obviously facetious" on the grounds that it contained the word crap and three exclamation marks. Indeed, so cunning was this disguise that the airport authorities regarded Chambers' message as "a non-credible threat" and took no action. The prosecution has pointed out that Chambers sent a similar message to the lady he was planning to meet, which contained no exclamation marks and was couched in altogether more sober language. Obviously, this makes any facetious intent much more difficult to prove - particularly to legal professionals who are required not only to implement each and every Act of bad comedy which is tossed out by the Home Office and script-doctored by Parliament, but to keep a straight face while doing so.


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