Baker & McKenzie Helps Overturn "Twitter Joke Trial" Conviction
27 July 2012
London, UK, 27 July 2012 - In a judgment handed down today, the High Court has overturned the conviction of Paul Chambers, defendant in the so called "Twitter joke trial." Chambers was advised by a legal team led by solicitor David Allen Green, John Cooper QC and supported by a team of lawyers from leading global law firm Baker & McKenzie.
The high profile case, dubbed the "Twitter joke trial," concerned a comment posted on Twitter by Paul Chambers in January 2010. The comment, in which a frustrated Chambers threatened to blow up Doncaster's Robin Hood airport following the cancellation of his flight, was self-evidently intended as a joke but led to Chambers being arrested, charged and convicted for sending a "menacing electronic communication" in May 2011. In addition to gaining a criminal record, Chambers also lost his job as a consequence.
Chambers lost an appeal at Doncaster Crown Court in February 2012. A second appeal to the High Court opened on 22 June 2012. The case attracted significant media and celebrity attention because it was seen as restricting freedom of speech.
Baker & McKenzie Partner and Global Head of IT/C, Harry Small, said, "This case is significant, above all because it restores some common sense to the law on electronic communications. No-one, including the airport authorities, took this so-called threat seriously but the Director of Public Prosecutions decided, for some inexplicable reason, to prosecute. We wanted to assist, first because we wanted to help a young person of good character who lost his livelihood because of an iniquitous prosecution; and, secondly, because we wanted to help to clarify the law to take away the chilling effect of such a conviction on freedom of communication."
The Baker & McKenzie team, which began work on the case in 2010 and acted on a pro bono basis, included London partners Harry Small, Tom Cassels and Ben Allgrove, assisted by trainees Victoria Dockrell, Jessica Lee and Julian de Segundo. Chambers' defence was led by Preiskel & Co Head of Media David Allen Green and John Cooper QC of 25 Bedford Row and Sarah Przybylska of 2 Hare Court.