Sean Duffield is an idiot. Probably too stupid to do his job at Doncaster’s ‘Robin Hood Airport’ (hey, Belfast’s smaller airport is named after a drunken wife-beater, so why not a thief?). One evening, he searched Twitter for mentions of his workplace, found a jibe by Paul Chambers, and reported it as a threat to the airport.
The wheels of legal process ground into motion with Kafka-esque logic, and eventually, Chambers was convicted and fined. For making a joke.
What he actually said in his Twitter tweet was “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!!”. Remember that this was only visible to the few dozen Twitter followers subscibed to Chambers’ feed, plus anyone bored enough to search the entire site. That is not a mechanism for delivering a threat.
And it’s obviously not a serious threat anyway. Only an idiot would think that. If someone e-mailed the airport manager or police directly to say that some terrorist organisation had planted a bomb at the airport, then that would be a subject for investigation, even though it would almost certainly be a hoax. But an off-the-cuff joke is not a threat.
Fortunately for Chambers, he was able to appeal the conviction, with the case being heard last month, but not completed. The final hearing is set for 11th November, when we will all find out if the law is, indeed, an ass.
Whatever the outcome, there is one thing that bugs me, and that is that the guilty will never be punished for this fiasco. The loons at the Crown Prosecution Service who pushed forward a prosecution against all common sense and logic. Those individuals will never be penalised, or even censured for wasting public funds and ruining the life of a random citizen. The original magistrate is free to continue making judgements. The police officers involved are still defending our security. Oh, shit.
As a memorial to the stupidity of this whole business, I have designed an inflatable airport. (Anyone who wants the POVray 3D source code can have it, but it’s a bit of a hack.) But you must never, ever, mention on Twitter that you are going to inflate it.
(Click pictures to enlarge.)