BBC BLOGS - Have Your Say
« Previous | Main | Next »

Should there be free speech on Twitter?

17:06 UK time, Friday, 12 November 2010

Twitter users are backing a man convicted and fined for sending a tweet threatening to blow up an airport after he failed to have his conviction overturned. Is the Twitter community right to back Paul Chambers?

Earlier this year, accountant Paul Chambers was convicted for sending a menacing electronic communication when he tweeted: "Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week..otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high".

The Twitter community is angry that a judge at Doncaster Crown Court has refused to quash his conviction. Free speech advocate Index on Censorship said: "The verdict demonstrates that the UK's legal system has little respect for free expression, and has no understanding of how people communicate in the 21st Century."

Is the judiciary out of touch with social networks? Should there be tighter controls on views expressed on social networking sites? How should the British legal system adapt to include social networks?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Comments

Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    Yes, Britain needs its own version of the First Amendment. However it will never happen because the Second Amendment was never granted to British citizens. It is commonly accepted in the US that if the Second Amendment were abolished, the First would go soon after. The case of Britain proves it conclusively

  • Comment number 2.

    Now this is an example of missing moderators. This justly convicted man could have been saved from his own irresponsible crass stupidity had the tweet (whatever they are) been moderated. I personally welcome the fact that any and all of our electronic communications can be subject to scrutiny by the intelligence communities. It certainly worked this time. So whether you are on this twitter rubbish or the schoolgirls E Mail they call facebook, or just plain old E mail or even HYS - you, me, we are being monitored. Whatever happened to letters by post ?

  • Comment number 3.

    We only have free speech in the UK as long as the authorities agree with what you say.

  • Comment number 4.

    It was a joke and this is a stupid question. Anyone should be allowed to say whatever they like on twitter and Facebook. If you don't like it, block it or respond angrily to it. If its a politician then don't vote for them. You don't need to reply on silly criminal laws or daddies money for a civil case.

    This is all getting so so silly. Though watch for attacks on social networking folks. Despite how fickle it can be, there is more social democracy going on there than in our corrupt government and main parties.

  • Comment number 5.

    I can't believe he actually got convicted in a court for his outburst. Does this mean that everything that has been spoken or scripted in a public domain is absolutely accountable in the UK? I think we need some explanations from our politicians in that case!

  • Comment number 6.

    Yes, there should be free speech. Right wing PC has caused society to become paranoid about terrorism, and this ridiculous conviction is the result of that paranoia.

  • Comment number 7.

    There is no such thing as free speech.

    If I were to write something inflammatory on this HYS, it would be censored.

  • Comment number 8.

    I have heard worse in our local pub. Yhe authorities over reacted as usual. As far as free speech is concerned it wpuld not stop me saying anything i wanted.

  • Comment number 9.

    These is a world of difference between the freedom to express ideas/opinions and making a bomb threat.

    Of course in the UK we lack the freedom to do either.

  • Comment number 10.

    Freedom of speech is one thing, and we should be able to express our views (hence this forum), but inciting a terrorist act is a whole other thing and shouldn't be condoned whatever medium it's on.

  • Comment number 11.

    The judiciary is out of touch with social networking together wit almost all aspects of public opinion.

  • Comment number 12.

    Should there be free speech on Twitter? Not just on Twitter, but everywhere. Political Correctness has all but destroyed free speech, time it was put to sleep with a dose of good old common sense.

  • Comment number 13.

    It sounds like absolute madness. He left the comment on his personal Twitter account and I can't imagine that many people would have been able to read it. If he sincerely meant to cause alarm, why didn't he announce it on some popular messageboard? (like HYS, for example)

    You hear things like this said all the time on TV comedy shows, and I'm sure most people on Twitter would read this in a similar context. I just can't understand how the guy got fined for it.

  • Comment number 14.

    Well perhaps it wasn`t the most sensible thing to say on twitter considering the present climate, but it was a throw away remark and any sensible person can see it as such. But let`s face it, the law and government never claimed to be sensible. Paranoia tends to be the motivational force for them most of the time.

  • Comment number 15.

    I don't understand why he should be surprised that threats to blow up an airport should not be taken seriously in today's climate, assuming that is what he said.

    How did he qualify as an accountant.....

    Lack of self-awareness, perhaps? How long does it take anyone to understand that Twitter, Facebook are very public?

    No sympathy. Imagine the outcry if he had been ignored and there had been an explosion.




  • Comment number 16.



    The BBC don’t allow “Free speech”

    Why should anyone else?


  • Comment number 17.

    Social networking sites are not purely for conversations. They are in fact the same as publishing a newletter or newspaper. These sites and news media have subscribers and followers. The same rules that apply to news publications should apply to tweets and blogs. I believe that anyone publishing a threat in a newspaper would end up in court.

    To put it simply if you want to throw a temper tantrum make sure you don't publish it. As the publisher you are responsible for the content and any damage it causes. For example in this case if the flight was cancelled because of the percieved threat, then the other passengers should have the right to sue.....

  • Comment number 18.

    There has never been freedom of expression in the UK, whether online or offline. The judgment simply throws this fact into sharp relief.

    It's about time the UK government took a lesson from the US and allowed people to express themselves freely without fear of reprisal. They seem to be more afraid of words than of sticks and stones.

  • Comment number 19.

    Can someone tell me; is it safe to fly from Robin Hood airport or not?

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    The terrorists have just gained a victory because of this judgement. They have disrupted our lives to an extent that we cant make a flippant jokey remark to friends without the risk of getting locked up.

  • Comment number 22.

    Unless the "tweet" breaks the law by inciting racial or religious violence or the like then: yes

  • Comment number 23.

    2. At 5:23pm on 12 Nov 2010, SPEEDTHRILLS wrote:
    "Now this is an example of missing moderators. This justly convicted man could have been saved from his own irresponsible crass stupidity had the tweet (whatever they are) been moderated."

    How so? His electronic communication would still have been sent from his console. Whether it would have made it out to the wider public or perhaps made it out but only until it was deleted is moot, it would still have left his console and been sent electronically.

    As an aside, this opens a can of worms. For example, has anyone ever read/heard what goes on online while playing games such as Call of Duty. People say they're going to kill others, etc, all the time - should they be arrested and convicted of sending threatening electronic communications as well?

  • Comment number 24.

    "(The judge).. found that it contained menace and Chambers must have known that it might be taken seriously."

    Or conversely it could be that it was just a flippant remark and nobody would take it seriously.

  • Comment number 25.

    Free speech always has limits in a civilised society. It doesn't allow you to libel or slander someone, i.e. say or write something for which you have no evidence but causes distress, loss or personal defamation. It doesn't allow you to threaten violence to anyone. Likewise it doesn't (or shouldn't) allow you to threaten damage or terror-type attacks.
    The law is the same whether you speak, write letters, put up posters, use e-mail, social networks or whatever - the medium is irrelevant.
    So the police were right to pursue this man, but since in his case there was never any serious intent a good ticking-off should have been enough. Not a good use of court time, I feel.

  • Comment number 26.

    This tweet was nothing more than fustration at a situation, how many can say that they have never incited violence when they have felt agrieved at a situation that is out of your control.

    along the the lines of if "they don't sort this out i'm gonna go down there and @#&%$£ "

    better not say the last bit because i'll end up in jail.

    Looks like we have totally been controlled, but unfortunately others are allowed to do and say what they like.

    I see there have been no arrests at that inciting hatred group that were being very disrespectful to me and my countrymen yesterday say what they liked at 11am

  • Comment number 27.

    Sadly there is no room in todays security obsessed UK for a sense of humour, however warped. The comment might have been stupid, and definately juvenile, but did it require the heavy handed action of the law - no!

  • Comment number 28.

    25. At 6:05pm on 12 Nov 2010, Rabbitkiller wrote:

    "..the police were right to pursue this man, but since in his case there was never any serious intent a good ticking-off should have been enough. Not a good use of court time, I feel."

    The police are going to have their hands full if they're going to now prosecute everyone. They won't prosecute everyone though, which makes this judgement a farce.

  • Comment number 29.

    If the publication of the message's contents contravened the law (as they appear to have done) than it matters not whether it was on twitter, the radio, stuck up on a notice board, or plastered on the side of a flying airship. An offence is an offence, and on the basis of what little I've seen the judge was in my view correct, and would have been derelict in his duty to have done anything else.
    Is the judiciary out of touch with social networks? --Bit of a daft question. Why should judges be in or out of touch? In its appellate capacity the judiciary can't be in touch with every development in society, but is there to decide whether on the facts the conviction was safe or unsafe according to the LAW, not the opinions of tweeters, or of rowdy football supporters for that matter;
    Should there be tighter controls on views expressed on social networking sites? -- Not necessarily, so long as the law on content, decency etc.in the country in which material originates is followed. If it's legal in some countries and illegal in others then the appropriate authorities in the countries with tighter laws must decide what to do if there is a complaint. Certainly NOT set up a spying authority to try to find illegal comments. (I don't see much wrong with the House Rules of this forum as a model)
    How should the British legal system adapt to include social networks? --It shouldn't. Nobody's ever suggested that it should adapt to include special treatment for other social developments like drunkenness or rowdyism. The question is surely - how should social networks adapt to the British legal system?

  • Comment number 30.

    "Free speech" does not, anywhere, give a person the right to shout 'Fire!' in a crowded theatre. Or rather, they have the right to do so but they must face the consequences. How about if someone said "I'm going to commit murder", should that be taken as a joke? If it were, and the person went on to do it, there would be justified outcry that he wasn't stopped. Threatening to blow up an airport is no different. At the least he should be prosecuted for wasting police time.

  • Comment number 31.

    Should there be free speech on Twitter?

    That is not an easy question to answer, is shouthing 'fire!' in a crowded room free speech?.




  • Comment number 32.

    Tell me, how frustrating is life these days of which terrorism or other issues are just one aspect? I travel to Edinburgh by air only to watch the trains run past the foot of the runway. Can I catch a train at edinburgh airport-No!! I have to make a 30 minute journey by bus back into the city. It makes my blood boil and letters to the relevant authorities have changed nothing. Would I be prosecuted if I threatened some action-U bet I would.

    Just part of the crazy situation that obtains in this country where actions in various areas are impossible to achieve because of vested interest and money. Consider, we have succumbed to the need for a car- the Government taxes us to the hilt to run the damned things. Rail companies force us to travel in worse conditions than animals. The roads are blocked so that no one can get home easily and we are taxed for this amenity. Companies are encouraged to get us to use office blocks so that we are forced into cars and trains and if you go to fly you basically might as well travel in your pyjamas. Everything is obstructive. All we get is " Its down to the Council" or " Its our policy" or "Its a matter of Secoooority". Damn it all, why is it so difficult to do anything these days?

  • Comment number 33.


    15. At 5:41pm on 12 Nov 2010, ruffled_feathers wrote:

    I don't understand why he should be surprised that threats to blow up an airport should not be taken seriously in today's climate, assuming that is what he said.

    How did he qualify as an accountant.....

    Lack of self-awareness, perhaps? How long does it take anyone to understand that Twitter, Facebook are very public?

    No sympathy. Imagine the outcry if he had been ignored and there had been an explosion.


    It's a surprise not for being caught and interrogated for what he said, but for what punishment he got. It wasn't for the terrorist threat or for wasting police time, but because his remarks caused offence. He was fined for the amount the prosecution team charged. That's where the problem lies.

  • Comment number 34.

    Everyone wants free speech, and nobody except the Left Wing nut cases want political correctness, so why do we put up with the unfairness produced by political correctness. You cannot upset a black person, an Asian, a gay person, a women, school children, Islam or the BBC, but if you are a Christian, you are the scum of the earth, and your every comment is racist, anti Islam, and against the law. So what has happened to free speech. It is only for some, but not for others, and that is not free speech.

  • Comment number 35.

    It's 2010 and the days of being able to make this type of threat is long over. If someone makes such a threat and subsequently acts upon it, those same people supporting his right to "free speech" will be wondering why the government did nothing. I have no sympathy for the man.

  • Comment number 36.

    It's good to see the £8.9bn of the Ministry of Justice budget put to good use by convicting someone who made 'bad' joke.

  • Comment number 37.

    Yes, but there always has to be responsibilities as this idiot demonstrates, he's no better than those who joked about packing a bomb at the airport check in a few months after 9/11.

    Yes, you can say anything you want on there if anyone bothers to read it, but prepare for the consequences of what may look like a joke to you. Sadly the liberal loony bandwagon has jumped on the Spartacus bandwagon, perhaps it's time to get out a bit more.

  • Comment number 38.

    I hope the judiciary views free speech in the same way when it comes time for yesterday's poppy burning protesters to be tried & sentenced.

  • Comment number 39.

    18. At 5:58pm on 12 Nov 2010, Reasoned Rants wrote:
    There has never been freedom of expression in the UK, whether online or offline. The judgment simply throws this fact into sharp relief.

    It's about time the UK government took a lesson from the US and allowed people to express themselves freely without fear of reprisal. They seem to be more afraid of words than of sticks and stones.
    ============
    He wouldn't get away with it in the US either. There is a huge difference between free speech and making terrorist threats, regardless of the intent to act upon them. You can't yell "fire" in a movie theater, the same logic applies here.

  • Comment number 40.

    PMSL (Is the judiciary out of touch with social networks)

    No the BBC (IS)

    How the hell can the BBC ask this question about free speech when they moderate free speech for the slightest comment made about their Islamic brothers.

    Whose side are you on BBC?

    We all know the truth hurts, but why do you continue to subdue the truth placed within your domain by your contributors?

  • Comment number 41.

    Free speech in this country is just a pipe dream of millions of dissapointed Brits,For a start,I know that this wont be published,esspecialy by the BBC.People who have nothing but hate for this country,but love to live here because of the freedom they are allowed ,compared to their own country.are allowed to commit the greatest insult against us,and still be granted more rights than real British citizens. but if any decent British say anything against it they are branded racist,We now have become the lowest of the low in regards to self esteem...

  • Comment number 42.

    The judge was right, you have to take this guy seriously, though taking criminal action was wrong , anybody who spends his time on twitter, then threatens to blow up airports, is obviously unstable , possibly deranged, and should probably be on a care in the community programme.

  • Comment number 43.

    There is always free speech on the internet. Until someone reports you.

    "Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week..otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high". How could he not expect someone to take this the wrong way? Saying things out loud allows for much more obvious sarcasm, as opposed to writing them down. A sense of humour is something the authorities seldom have!

    This man brought his conviction upon himself, although £1000 in fines seems excessive to me, considering he already lost his job over the prosecution.

    There is no need for tighter controls on freedom of speech in social networks. If posters of moronic comments get reported, they have only themselves to blame for publishing it in the first place.

  • Comment number 44.

    I agree with Rabbitkiller (hope that's not a hobby by the way). If Chanbers had just slatted the airport that's one thing or more precisely it's his opinion and perfectly legal even if others think it is wrong. But to suggest he is going to blow the place up is reckless and stupid.

    Maybe a good ticking off would have been better but look at it this way many others are now going to be so stupid as to suggest to do the same. Apart of course for the idiot MP who suggested stoning a woman. It does matter that these comments were apparently made in jest. There is no way that I or anyone else can be sure that was the intention.

    I have had the misfortune of being exposed to several bomb threats whilst living in London. Hoax or not they were a major disruption, including contributing to me failing one of my finals. So I can sleep easy knowing he's been made an example of, in hope that it does happen again.

  • Comment number 45.

    You can speak freely in this country it just depends upon who you are.

    I am moderated on HYS for making comments that are in OK my opinion.

    I'm fed up with the PC world we live in. What's the point in trying to make a point when you have to watch every single word you say for fear of offending someone. It certainly has an effect on what was at one time lively conversation and debate.

  • Comment number 46.

    This has nothing to do with freedom of speech. Free speech has never been extended to being able to make threats. Making threats via the net is no different from doing so in person or in print. The same laws apply. One doesn’t threaten people in person or in print so why expect to get away with doing so via the Internet?

  • Comment number 47.

    Total nonsense, a ticking off is what people who make tweets like this need at the very most.

  • Comment number 48.

    As i said in a previous post it wasn`t the most sensible thing to say considering the present climate, but if all the posters on this HYS were being honest with themselves, how many of us would have read it and taken it seriously? Or phoned the police warning them? Not a lot of us i would imagine. Common sense has to prevail in these situations and i believe it was just the guy letting off a little steam.

  • Comment number 49.

    We're free to do anything we like, just so long as we are prepared to pay the price for our actions/words. I'm free to jokingly declare a violin case as containing a machine gun in Heathrow airport, but I wouldn't be greatly surprised if the authorities took the statement seriously, and I would have no valid complaint about the results of my statement. Still free to say it though.

  • Comment number 50.

    Is there the remotest chance that Twitter and Facebook were in fact creations of the State and that part of the subterfuge has been to give the impression each was invented by another Party?
    It's clear what's happening. People thinking they have anonymity are sucked into a false sense of security and get a bit daft with the silly immature and the sometimes unnecessarily inflammatory things they write.Such puerile unsophistiocated behaviour is encouraged most by the greed driven profit obsessed advertising agencies which hope that as many people as possible can be attracted to use the networks so that the advertising gets maximum exposure.It's all part of the dumbing down of Britain which like Hjalmar Ekdal has sunk to the depths of the slough of despond and is clinging on for sheer life to the reeds at the bottom

  • Comment number 51.

    So many people in this HYS have missed what is quite possibly the most relevant point.

    Sure, saying stupid things on Twitter is obviously stupid. Yes, it's a bad idea to make random bomb threats or whatever. Yes, it's reasonable that the authorities follow up on potential security threats.

    And sure, free speech is useful, desirable, and in this country is definitely too much at the sufferance of politicians rather than automatic.


    But public prosecutions should only be carried out when it is in the public interest. What public interest does the prosecution of this guy serve? Anyone with half a brain (possibly less) could tell that it wasn't a genuine threat, it was just a guy blowing off steam. It clearly *isn't* in the public interest to prosecute whenever someone says something careless, so why is it in the public interest this time? In what way is the public enriched or protected by ruining this guy's life?

    The short answer is that it isn't, and while he should maybe be told off a bit in private there's no way it should have gone any further than that; the whole affair has been a total waste of public resources that would be better spent on hospitals, education, policing real security threats, the fire service, social welfare, etc., etc., etc. I want whatever proportion of my taxes go on stupid things like this back; I'd be better off giving it to charity.

  • Comment number 52.

    Why haven't they arrested the thousands of people on Facebook that want to burn muslims because of the poppy burning?

  • Comment number 53.

    There are valid reasons why he should not have been convicted and valid reasons why he should have been.... think about this, if he posted this statement and it had been ignored and a week later he in fact blew up the Airport, what would everyone be saying today?

    Some of the School Massacres in the US were preceeded by what appeared to be random comments and 'flippant' remarks to others and on a Social Network and 2 months later there was carnage.... what do we say, "ooops!"

  • Comment number 54.

    Anyone who thinks there is free speech in Britain is sadly mistaken.

    However, it does seem that adherents to certain religions can say whatever they like without, apparently, being sanctioned. Conversely, if someone of a British background points this out (naming the religion), it seems that they will be guilty of religious or racial incitement. It is clear that multiculturalism (as Angela Merkel has already stated) is a failure: why then, does the existing crop of British laws contend that no-one is disadvantaged by the pretention to multiculturism when it is clear that is not the case?

    The rise of the "white nationalist activist" seems to portend the realisation of Enoch Powell's prophecy. What we are seeing is the first stage in a cultural/religious version of the conflict between the right and left in pre-Hitler Germany.

    Equality is based on the premise that no-one will abuse their privileges and that those who choose not to participate in society will not be a burden to it. The irony in this country is that certain factions, having refused to take equal part in Society, then bemoan their condition as if Society has exluded them rather them having excluded themselves.

    If Cameron and his cohorts are now planning to penalise those who do not toe the line in terms of work and benefits, how about extending this to wider society? How about refusing benefits to those who do not learn an acceptable standard of English, thoe who do not comply with the law, those who do not exercise or abuse their civil responsibility to vote and those who work to undermine the British state by illegal means? I have no problem with people living to and by their standards: what I object to is footing the bill for their eccentricities.

    Let's face up to reality here. The majority should have the majority say. If you want to integrate, it doesn't matter if you are black, white, yellow, brown or purple-with-green-spots. However, if you do not wish to integrate, you are toxic to this society and should not be allowed to be a burden, should not expect support and should, ideally, look elsewhere for your domicile.

  • Comment number 55.

    No of course free speech shouldn't be allowed on Twitter!

    Can you imagine a world where people would be allowed to say anything they want? Where someone saying something negative or "non-nice" about the system is allowed their own thoughts?

    George Orwell had the right idea!

    A.N. Idiot.

  • Comment number 56.

    What happened to common sense? This is a ludicrous judgement by a ludicrous judiciary, CPS and police service. Do they honestly expect respect from ordinary members of the public if they do this sort of thing? They've just lost yet another supporter.

  • Comment number 57.

    I think that posting that comment was a silly thing to do and he obviously regrets it now.
    However, is it right to convict someone for something that they may do in the future, when they have in fact done nothing to substantiate it in the present.
    Isn't it giving the Government the right to arrest you because they think you will do something bad in the future ?
    Sounds rather like a Tom Cruise Movie to me.........

  • Comment number 58.

    "
    6. At 5:31pm on 12 Nov 2010, Beige Rage wrote:

    Yes, there should be free speech. Right wing PC has caused society to become paranoid about terrorism, and this ridiculous conviction is the result of that paranoia.
    "

    What is "Right wing PC"?

  • Comment number 59.

    Sorry but in All walks of life and at all level ... No one or anybody has the automatic or absolute right to publish or broadcast WITHOUT consequence...Therefore the full weight of the law should apply

    The Medium that any "proven" libel, slander or another malicious act Should also be equally held to account....

    without exception.......

  • Comment number 60.

    A quick reminder .It is not what the writer intents in his writing, it is the interpretation by the reader that matters

  • Comment number 61.

    Heaven forbid the BBC should ever introduce freedom of speech!! Thank heaven for the moderators saving us all from shocking non pc comments. Oh Im rolling round the floor laughing yet again. Now where's my copy of the Guardian?

  • Comment number 62.

    I see a lot of posters are complaining about the fact that there is no guarantee of freedom of speech.

    This man broke the current law a slap on the wrist would have sufficed..

    But why are we NOT discussing the fact that this coalition government the so called CON/DEMS have just recently Mothballed the proposed BILL of RIGHTS for UK nationals.

    How come this apalling decision was not banner headlines on the BBC?

    How come its NOT a repeat question on this HYS like the benefit changes !!!

    And whats the excuse? We cannot afford it !!!

    I say we cannot afford to be without it !

    No doubt people will refer to Magna Carta and say yes there you are., but remember magna carta was between the nobles and the king NOT the peasants!!

  • Comment number 63.

    There is an elementary level of sloppy reasoning about the belief that we should absolutely and always be able to say whatever we want. Of course the right to free speech is sacred, but really now....what value do you place on a principle if you use it as a joke? Shout fire from the balcony of a crowded theater (oh...I was just kidding!), tweet a bomb threat (who knew inanity could be such fun?!??)...they're both colossally stupid ways to abuse the sacred right to speak essential truths that actually matter and need to be heard. How many innocent riders have you chased onto the Underground and shot dead because your hair-trigger nerves have been frayed raw since the events of a July morning 5 years ago? Your right to swing your fist ENDS AT THE PUBLIC NOSE, and the free exercise of stupidity is just that...and nothing more.

  • Comment number 64.

    Im allways astonished at how people who say they believe in free speech really only mean the things that fit in the "box." real free speech is about anything and everything, and that very few tolerate.
    Bomb threats though are something else, but it is interesting to see how much was made of this particular incident when in the last few weeks several men obviously a threat to their partner have been released on bail only to kill.

  • Comment number 65.

    Yes there should be freedom of speech but of course Twitter would be free to censor what goes on their service in the same way BBC would be free to do the same here. Freedom of speech refers to the law not to social norms and private web services.

    The point is that convention and social pressure will and should control the actual freedom of speech. With freedom goes responsibility. Nonetheless you will be offended sometimes so grow up and live with it. Offence is part of being free and adult.

    What should never ever happen is for the law to be used to control what people say or even worse what they think. The notion that these people end up with criminal records for what is at worst silly and mildly offensive is horrific. The greater crime is their conviction. It is as if our society slips further and further away from adulthood and sophistication and back to some awful age we left behind in the enlightenment.

  • Comment number 66.

    22. At 6:01pm on 12 Nov 2010, Melvazord wrote:

    Unless the "tweet" breaks the law by inciting racial or religious violence or the like then: yes


    Apparently it contravened Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/21/section/127

  • Comment number 67.

    10. At 5:36pm on 12 Nov 2010, Hortitechie wrote:
    Freedom of speech is one thing, and we should be able to express our views (hence this forum), but inciting a terrorist act is a whole other thing and shouldn't be condoned whatever medium it's on.
    ////
    Your having a joke mate. I have told the TRUTH the whole TRUTH and nothing but the TRUTH on this forum before and had it "Kicked Off" because someone didn't like what I said. And thats the whole TRUTH.

  • Comment number 68.

    Social networking sites should be subject to the same rules as public broadcasting.

    Free speech - yes. Offensive, abusive, threatening, harassing, discriminatory - no. The latter are not needed.

  • Comment number 69.

    21. At 6:01pm on 12 Nov 2010, bnt1967 wrote:

    The terrorists have just gained a victory because of this judgement. They have disrupted our lives to an extent that we cant make a flippant jokey remark to friends without the risk of getting locked up.


    How has your life been disrupted exactly?

  • Comment number 70.

    60. At 7:24pm on 12 Nov 2010, Lord Rant wrote:

    A quick reminder .It is not what the writer intents in his writing, it is the interpretation by the reader that matters

    -------------------------------------------------------------

    While i can see where you`re coming from are we supposed to pre-empt peoples interpretation to what we are writing? Going by this forum about two thirds seem to think that it was an over-reaction so where does that leave us? Are the majority right? everyone will interpret any given comment differently dependant on their beliefs and morals.

  • Comment number 71.

    you can only have freedom of expression if your face fits , IE ...burning poppies in front of the medias cameras !

  • Comment number 72.

    I hope my footy team completely annihilates the opposition tomorrow. I want them to blow them away; destroy them; make them mince meat; put them down. "Them" "them" enemy "them" is - ANNIHILATION IS TO GOOD FOR'M!

    (Sunday I might have a beer with "them", if "they're" around).

  • Comment number 73.

    Why should there be free speech on twitter? Its not like there is free speech anywhere else.

  • Comment number 74.

    but its ok to name an airport after a terrorist ( robin hood)

  • Comment number 75.

    36. At 6:34pm on 12 Nov 2010, Louidet Lebwaze wrote:

    It's good to see the £8.9bn of the Ministry of Justice budget put to good use by convicting someone who made 'bad' joke.


    He was ordered to pay costs so the only money he has been wasting is his own.

  • Comment number 76.

    He probably should have had just a clip round the ear from the local officer. Or is that suggestion itself incitement to violence?

  • Comment number 77.

    Presumably we are all for free speech and that's all very well if everyone were sane and sober. If everyone can say what they like without fear of prosecution what do the emergency service do when a threat appears and it's all very well until someone has a go at you. Rumours about incidents and personal character are very easy to start either as a joke or maliciously, it's not quite so easy to dispel. Twitter should be treated exactly the same as the spoken word with redress

  • Comment number 78.

    Comment 68 by KarenZ - I absolutely agree fully with your comments and would like to also add that with freedom comes responsibility and that does not give anyone the right to call for someone else to be attacked etc. That is incitement and it cannot be right by any standard.

  • Comment number 79.

    And another thing why would the owners of the TWITter ever want to impose moderators?

    Lets face it the ammount of FREE advertising they get every time some numpty gets caught being up-PC means they would have to be FORCED by law to moderate the messages..

    This kind of advertising is Priceless to a company not even the exalted MR (nws group untouchable) Murdoch could afford it!!

    So instead Give me a bill of rights ! Define for me the rationship between the state and myself..

    Untill a Bill of Rights exsists then FREEDOM OF SPEECH is just 3 words without real meaning...

  • Comment number 80.

    40. At 6:36pm on 12 Nov 2010, Steve wrote:

    PMSL (Is the judiciary out of touch with social networks)

    No the BBC (IS)

    How the hell can the BBC ask this question about free speech when they moderate free speech for the slightest comment made about their Islamic brothers.

    Whose side are you on BBC?

    We all know the truth hurts, but why do you continue to subdue the truth placed within your domain by your contributors?


    As you have agreed to the house rules when creating your account the BBC is quite right to remove any of your posts that they consider contravenes them. If you don't like it then you are "free" to go elsewhere.

  • Comment number 81.

    74. At 7:43pm on 12 Nov 2010, dwangeddy wrote:

    but its ok to name an airport after a terrorist ( robin hood)


    One persons terrorist is another persons freedom fighter.

  • Comment number 82.

    free speech should be an absolute right.

  • Comment number 83.

    71. At 7:39pm on 12 Nov 2010, dwangeddy wrote:
    you can only have freedom of expression if your face fits , IE ...burning poppies in front of the medias cameras !
    //////
    My 14 years old son picked up on this one. I don't want him turning into a raciest or bigot but the very fact that a "Silent" protest of this nature should be allowed is a disgrace and an insult to this country so I understand his anger. I say this as an ex-serviceman and a friend of many Muslims.

  • Comment number 84.

    "71. At 7:39pm on 12 Nov 2010, dwangeddy wrote:
    you can only have freedom of expression if your face fits , IE ...burning poppies in front of the medias cameras !"



    I thought their faces DIDN'T fit because some of them were covered up?!



  • Comment number 85.

    I just want to ask, would there have been the same reaction if a Muslim person had tweeted the same message?

  • Comment number 86.


    Considering the Beeb's attitude to severe weather on this website today 12 November 2010, I'd say yes. OK it was a daft thing to do and don't have any sympathy with him but when a public news broadcaster is so totally biassed, why not?

  • Comment number 87.

    Okay, where do you draw the line on free speech? This sort of thing gives rise to the paedophiles being granted rights to be recognised as human beings. Don't be silly, we don't need to be told what is right and wrong, human decency and responsibility to society decrees that. Shouting rude words because you can is a schoolboy trait that we grow out of as we mature to be responsible adults.
    As for those who muslims who dececrated the two minutes aren't they to be pitied because of how sad they are. Many muslims have died fighting for this country and we remember those as well all the rest.
    I believe in free speech but not if it is full of blatant untruths.

  • Comment number 88.

    >> 34. At 6:30pm on 12 Nov 2010, MizzJShaw wrote:
    >>Everyone wants free speech,

    Really? FRee speech means people can lie and make up untruths and threaten people. I'm not sure many people would want freedom of speech to extend to that.

    >> and nobody except the Left Wing nut cases want political correctness, so why >>do we put up with the unfairness produced by political correctness. You >>cannot upset a black person, an Asian, a gay person, a women, school >>children, Islam or the BBC, but if you are a Christian, you are the scum of >>the earth, and your every comment is racist, anti Islam, and against the law.

    You seem to be misinformed. Anybody causing offense can be prosecuted be they Black, White, Homosexual, heterosexual, man or woman, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu or anything else. For me political correctness is about good manners. You don't knowingly say something that will upset someone. If you know something upsets one of your friends you tend to stay away from talking about it. If you intend to cause offence with what you say then that is different from saying something that you believe that someone takes offense at. At the end of the day most people will be rational enough to agree to disagree on points without getting offended.

    >> So what has happened to free speech. It is only for some, but not for >>others, and that is not free speech.

    Only MPs have free speech (they can't be prosecuted for what they say in the Commons). The rest of us live with the consequences of what we say. I've never felt the need nor the desire to offend anyone with what I say but maybe that is a kind of conceited arrogance in that I'm ok with what I believe in.

  • Comment number 89.

    Free speech in any circumstance is not a right..twitter is becoming what I feared it would become a place where any idiot can voice idiotic thoughts without these being edited prior to publication...now we all like humour but nowadays some people think stupidity takes the place of genuine humour..so personally I will continue to consign twitter to my irretrievable dust bin

  • Comment number 90.

    I think the people that agree with the veredict simply do not understand the concept it was meant in and some do not seem to understand twitter either.

    1) Comment was made for close friends and followers of Paul to read, from what I seen around 900 people, if you follow someone that offends you in anyway then stop following them.

    2) Twitter is for broadcasting your thoughts on any subject, is meant to be free to say what you want as those following you should be on the same brainwave as you are.

    3) The context of the message was clearly trying to add comedy to frustration, e.g "Just got my car fixed this morning and broke down on the motorway in the snow, gonna kill that mechanic" this DOES NOT MEAN I AM GOING TO KILL MY MECHANIC!

    4) The media is wrongly publishing that this was a bomb threat, it was NOT a bomb threat at all...!

  • Comment number 91.

    Yes there should be free speech on twitter! BUT? I equate that with free actions? Re- poppy burning?
    That should not be tolerated in the UK ?
    To me thats like a criminal offence? like peeing on a war memorial??

  • Comment number 92.

    You are right we need a new constution written down and a new voting system allowing free speach...Like American we must have free speach on UK facebook and twitter.

    we are fed up of not been able to debate black white rich poor EU and emmergration.Cencership must change asap on the web and elsewhere!


    Politions must get out of our lives! No slaves,no spying,no cameras,no censorship!

  • Comment number 93.

    Should there be free speech on Twitter?
    As their is far from free speach on this site...Yes.

  • Comment number 94.

    There still is free speech on Twitter, in the sense that there is no censorship and messages are not pre-moderated. You are able to express anything you like as long as you use no more than 140 characters. It is only after the event, it seems, that the authorities can decide whether or not they have taken a dislike to your message.

    If you want to make something of it, the BBC operates in a far more authoritarian way with its own "Have Your Say" site. Everything on there is pre-moderated and can be thrown out at the whim of anonymous moderators with only the briefest of explanations. It this that leads many, on both the right and the left, to believe that the BBC expresses a political bias.

    And therein lies the problem. Any attempt at constraining free speech must be applied from the point of view of a person, an institution or a society that already has particular views, prejudices or agendas. I would suggest that it is impossible to apply such controls without being seen by one side or another to be biased.

  • Comment number 95.

    Free speech is not the issue here. What is wrong with this case is not that we should be able to say what we like; that is untenable. But not only should this threat been recognised quickly as non-credible, it _was_ recognised as such, following brief investigation. Between the Airport Duty Manager an the Station Manager, the tweet was recorded as a "non-credible threat", and had no operational impact on the airport. This was five days after the tweet, which had not been sent to the airport; indeed it was pure chance that the ADM happened upon it (bomb hoaxes tend to be deliberately communicated to the "target" site; genuine terrorist plots tend to be kept a little more secret than a public tweet). This report was handed to Special Branch at the airport as a matter of course.

    Nothing whatsoever then happened for two days, at which point Special Branch notified Doncaster police, who arrested Chambers (leaving it a bit close to the wire, if they were taking it seriously). He was originally charged with making a bomb threat, but the fact that he made no overt attempt to direct the tweet towards the airport itself meant that a conviction on this charge was unlikely. But rather than drop the case, they sought—and found—some other offence for which they could seek conviction.

    Now with the above in mind, can Judge Jacqueline Davies' assertion that "Any ordinary person reading this would see it [as menacing] and be alarmed" stand up? I didn't; I have yet to meet anyone who did; and most importantly _no-one at Robin Hood airport_ gave any sign of considering it menacing, nor did any of their actions suggest even a modicum of alarm.

    We don't need absolute free speech, we just need common sense. This verdict is an outrage.

  • Comment number 96.

    Bet if he was a muslim We wouldnt be having this discussion.

    And I aint Muslim.

  • Comment number 97.

    @Rushda Khan: Had a Muslim person tweeted about blowing up an airport in frustration over snow closures then yes, I would be equally appalled were he/she criminalised.

    Hell I am even prepared to speak out against the arrest of Gareth Compton, despite the fact that I was among those who considered his "stoning" comment to have been vile, told him so in no uncertain terms, and fully back his suspension from his party. He is deplorable, but he is not a criminal.

  • Comment number 98.


    On Twitter:

    @Mike2u to @bbc_haveyoursay:
    #IamSpartacus is an important statement of what British people think of the guilty decision.

    Do you agree?

  • Comment number 99.

    The thing is, when I started using the internet some 11 years ago now, one of the first things they taught you was that things do tend to get taken literally online, and sarcasm was a definite no-no. That seems to have been lost as the internet becomes a free-for-all of satire, parody and goodness knows what else...but things are still being taken literally.

    If more web users just remembered this one fact, they'd dig less holes for themselves.

  • Comment number 100.

    Free speech should be illegal, it does no-one any good.

    Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer, as they say.

 

Page 1 of 5

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.