Saturday, 4 December 2010
On Thursday 2 December 2010 the papers were filed at Court for an application for an appeal of my client Paul Chambers to the High Court. In a perhaps ironic twist, the receiving court - Doncaster Crown Court - was closed because of snow.
The appeal is formally called an "Appeal by Case Stated". These are appeals to the High Court on points of law. The Court will now have 21 days to consider the application: the decision should be just before Christmas. If granted, then there will be a High Court hearing early in the new year. However, if the application is not successful, then Paul has the option of a judicial review of that refusal, where the High Court can order that permision be granted.
The newly-appointed QC, Ben Emmerson, has described the grounds for the appeal as "strong". It will be Ben, one of the greatest human rights lawyers of his generation, who will have (if permission is granted or ordered) the task of engaging with the High Court as to the permissible use of the offences under section 127(1) of the Communications Act 2003 in the context of both the threat of terrorism and the ever-widening use of social media.
On a personal note, I never really expected the case to get this far. Nor did I expect to be the sole solicitor acting for Paul (I was joint solicitor for Paul with his local Doncaster criminal solicitor for the Crown Court Hearing, but as the case has now moved down to the High Court in London, I am now entirely responsible for the conduct of the case).
In this I am lucky to have the generous help of some exceptional lawyers. This nice piece in the The Lawyer provides some of the background to the putting together of the legal team. It must be said, I have felt like an far-inferior, Brummie version of Bob Geldof (though with similar hair) in making the calls and asking for favours.
Mine is not the only view on the applicable law and the conviction. So for completness, please see an interesting (though wrongly-titled) post on the INFORRM media blog here. There is also a counterview to mine here.
The case has now generated much considerable international interest, with articles in publications in Canada, Australia, the United States, South Africa, Germany, France, and so on. It appears that, like the Simon Singh litigation I was previously involved in, the case has caught the mood of the times. Of all the articles and posts published so far, my favourites are the ones by Graham Linehan, Nick Cohen, and - a brilliant piece - Charlie Brooker.
The last word must be about my client, Paul Chambers. All he did was tweet his exasperation about the prospect of not seeing a lovely girl he was to stay with for the first time. He then was arrested in front of his colleagues, interviewed at length, and convicted for an obscure offence (for which he was not even arrested). He has been in court five times, each time an incredibly stressful and gruelling ordeal. He has lost two jobs. And throughout, he has been consistently calm and well-humoured.
He could have walked away from this at any point and "drawn a line" and "got on with his life".
But he has not. Like Simon Singh before him, though in a different context, he just thinks something is wrong and he is determined - as far as possible - to see if it can be set right.
No purely anonymous comments will be published; always use a name for ease of reference by other commenters.
Any abuse or insults in respect of the Court will NOT be published.