In praise of Paul Chambers

Gentlemen of the free-and-easy sort, who plume themselves on being acquainted with a move or two, and being usually equal to the time-of-day, express the wide range of their capacity for adventure by observing that they are good for anything from pitch-and-toss to manslaughter; between which opposite extremes, no doubt, there lies a tolerably wide and comprehensive range of subjects.

Without venturing for Scrooge quite as hardily as this, I don’t mind calling on you to believe that he was ready for a good broad field of strange appearances, and that nothing between a baby and rhinoceros would have astonished him very much.

Now, being prepared for almost anything, he was not by any means prepared for nothing…

Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

The High Court has decided that it cannot decide the “Twitter Joke Trial” and so has ordered a fresh appeal hearing.

I have written about this at the New Statesman and discussed it in a Without Prejudice legal podcast with Charon QC (I am the one who sounds like a Brummie Dalek).  There is also an excellent post at the INFORRM media law blog.

I just want to here make a quick personal comment.

Paul Chambers really is a remarkable and patient chap.

For two years he has put up with a conviction which has ruined his life and which the legal system simply cannot put right easily.

It is a privilege to be his solicitor.

The contrast of his good-natured perseverance with the inadequacies of the litigation process is marked, and reminds me of Simon Singh who had to endure a misconceived and illiberal libel case for two years before an appellate court saw sense.

Some say this case is similarly a disgrace to our legal system, and it is hard to disagree.

And thanks to Paul’s determination to fight the case, we may still end up with a decision which provides for a sensible application of the Communications Act for all users of social media.

You can contribute to Paul’s support fund – I don’t benefit (my legal work is being funded separately) but it covers all Paul’s other expenses and barristers’ fees.


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