£1,000 fine for trainee accountant who threatened to blow up airport on Twitter

A trainee accountant who posted a message on the micro-blogging website Twitter threatening to blow up an airport was yesterday convicted and fined £1,000.

Paul Chambers, 26, sent the tweet to his 600 followers after discovering that Doncaster's Robin Hood Airport, from where he was due to fly to Ireland, had been closed by snowfall.

The short message, posted on 6 January, read: "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!"

Chambers told the court it was sent in frustration, but the judge at Doncaster Magistrates Court said the tweet was "of a menacing nature in the context of the times we live in". The court was told that Chambers had been due to fly to Ireland to visit a girl he had met on Twitter, and sent the message when he realised his plans could be jeopardised by the weather. He said he did not realise that it could be seen by anyone other than his followers.

But it was spotted by Shaun Duffield, the off-duty manager at the airport. He alerted an airport security manager Steven Armson who said that, although he graded the threat as "non-credible", he had no option but to pass it to the police. Chambers was asked if he understood the airport had to take threats seriously, whatever the context. He replied: "I do now. I apologise for whatever consequences have happened, but at the time that was not my intention at all. It did not cross my mind that Robin Hood would ever look at Twitter or take it seriously because it was innocuous hyperbole."

Richard Haigh, defending, told the court the tweet about the airport had to be seen in the context of the language and styles of the social networking world. Mr Haigh described it as a "Fawltyesque" outburst. He said the message could possibly be seen as "immature", "tasteless" or "unacceptable", but not criminal. Chambers was found guilty of sending a menacing electronic communication and ordered to pay a £385 fine, a £15 victim's surcharge and £600 costs. He said he plans to appeal.

Last night the case was being widely discussed on Twitter. The girl Chambers had been flying to meet posted a message saying that the conviction meant he was no longer able to qualify as an accountant. Meanwhile, the comedian Stephen Fry offered to pay Chambers' fine for him.

News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' is based on historical events
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face
books
Arts and Entertainment
filmSir Ian McKellen will play retired detective in new film
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
'Molecular Man +1+1+1' by Jonathan Borofsky at Yorkshire Sculpture park
tv
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil