A British man convicted of ‘menace’ after jokingly tweeting that he planned to blow up an airport has lost his appeal, sparking a massive ‘I am Spartacus’ campaign.
Back in May, Paul Chambers was held up by heavy snow at Doncaster’s Robin Hood airport on his way to visit his girlfriend in Northern Ireland.
He tweeted to his friends: “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!!” He was fined £1,000, gained a criminal record, and lost his job as a financial controller as a result.
Yesterday, Judge Jacqueline Davies ruled that the tweet was indeed manacing, and that Chambers should have realized it would cause alarm.
However, while he may have lost his appeal, he’s won even more friends on Twitter.
High-profile tweeter and jolly good egg Stephen Fry offered to pay the fine in full, including Chambers’ extra legal costs. “”My offer still stands. Whatever they fine you, I’ll pay”, he says.
However, this offer hasn’t stopped other members of Twitter starting a fund which raised Chambers’ extra costs of £2,000 within an hour. It currently has over a thousand followers, and more than 250 people have made a donation.
At the same time, a petition entitled ‘I do not consider @pauljchambers tweet to be “obviously menacing’ has attracted over 1,100 signatures; and the hashtag #twitterjoketrial is currently one of Twitter’s top trending topics worldwide.
Even bigger, though, is a new campaign started today – #IAmSpartacus – which has seen thousands of people tweet Chambers’ original message as their own. It’s currently the number two trending topic on Twitter, andincludes tweets from dozens of British celebrities.