Paul Chambers, the man at the centre of the Twitter Joke Trial who was found guilty in 2010 of sending a “menacing” tweet, has won his appeal against his conviction. At the Royal Courts of Justice this morning the appeal was allowed “on the basis that this tweet did not constitute or include a message of a menacing character.” Speaking to Index on Censorship, Chambers said he felt relieved and vindicated by the decision, adding that the case “should never have got this far”. Chambers’s solicitor David Allen Green said: “This shameful prosecution should never have been brought.”
Comic Al Murray, who has been a vocal supporter of Chambers, was part of a large supportive crowd at the handing down of the judgment. Conservative MP Louise Mensch and science writer and free speech campaigner Simon Singh were also in attendance.
Murray told Index he though the judgment was “a victory for common sense and proportion”.
“If terrorism is such a threat, then surely it demands being dealt with coolly, rather than clamping down on mere mentions of it in a joke,” said Murray. “Paul’s tweet was not a credible threat, and the courts’ reaction up until now has made them look incredible.”
Don’t miss the spring issue of Index on Censorship magazine. Post Charlie Hebdo our commentators take a global view at how threats are being used to stop writers and artists, with Ariel Dorfman, David Edgar, Father Ted’s Arthur Mathews, Turkish novelist Elif Shafak and others. Also, major general Tim Cross and internet guru Martha Lane Fox go head to head on national security versus privacy, and Ismail Einashe on the perils of escaping from Eritrea.