Social Media – the #TwitterJokeTrial

Here’s a comment on the Twitter Joke Trial proceedings in the Court of Appeal…Andrew Sharpe, Lexis PSL lawyer, said: “Today the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) heard the appeal of Paul Chambers against his conviction under section 127(1) of the Communications Act 2003. The case is better known by its Twitter hashtag #TwitterJokeTrial, as it involves the prosecution of Paul for sending what was considered by the Crown Court to be a message of a menacing character. Paul had joked on Twitter that if Robin Hood Airport did not get its act together (to clear snow in January 2010), he would blow it up. “The Court has reserved judgement, meaning that it needs time to consider the arguments presented today. A judgment is expected in around a month. “From today’s hearing, it appears that the Court has not chosen to address whether the offending tweet had a menacing character to be caught by section 127(1) of the 2003 Act. This is disappointing to many commentators, who consider that the whole basis for the prosecution under this provision was flawed. Instead, the Court has addressed the effect of Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, the right to freedom of expression, on the case. The right can be qualified by legislation in the interests of national security or public safety. The Court of Appeal must therefore consider whether prosecution of Paul for a bad joke on Twitter under section 127(1) was a proportionate response by the Crown Prosecution Service in order to safeguard national security or public safety. If it was not, then Paul will be acquitted. If not, his conviction (including his fine) will stand.”