11th November 2010 19:00
Pirate Party Condemns 'Twitter Joke Trial' Judgement
Pirate Party UK is disappointed to learn that the courts have upheld the conviction of Paul Chambers under s127 Communications Act, for "sending by means of a public electronic communications network a message... of menacing character”. The conviction follows after Mr. Chambers posted a message on the Twitter social networking site earlier this year, making a frustrated, non-serious, claim that he would blow up an airport due to travel disruption.
Pirate Party Leader, Loz Kaye, has condemned the court's decision, stating upon hearing the judgement that "Britain is not a safer place, but less free because of this." He has also called for a full review of the Communications Act 2003.
"I think anyone with any common sense will be hugely dismayed by this decision. Let us remember the fundamental fact that Paul Chambers is innocent of intending to blow up Robin Hood Airport. So no-one has been saved, no disaster averted. Much of the arguments about potential harm hinged around what, for example, a hypothetical elderly couple would make of the joke. But there was no mass panic, no actual harm done. Other than to the principle of free speech in the ensuing legal debacle.
A huge amount of Police, CPS and Court time has been wasted. This can not be a good use of our nation's resources. If those charged with keeping us secure really can't tell the difference between a joke and a credible threat, then we surely are all doomed. This judgement demonstrates that we can all become collateral in the 'war on terror'. My thoughts go out to Paul Chambers, who has had his life ruined for no good reason. Equally, this is a chilling threat to freedom of expression. If the authorities deem anything you write menacing, you can be dragged in to court, whatever your original intention."
The Party also acknowledges the arrest of Conservative Councillor Gareth Compton for the same offence, and strongly opposes the use of this legislation to restrict freedom of speech, noting that any credible threats could be dealt with under legislation that has a more reasonable standard of proof.
Pirate Party UK has a firm commitment to freedom of expression at the heart of its manifesto. Today's judgement demonstrates how vital it is to have a Party robustly speaking out for this fundamental right.