Green, Regina (on the Application of) v The City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Thoday, Thompson: Admn 5 Dec 2007

The claimant appealed from the refusal by the magistrate to issue summonses for the prosecution for blashemous libel of the Director General of the BBC and the producers of a show entitled ‘Jerry Springer – The Opera.’
Held: The gist of the crime of blasphemous libel is material relating to the Christian religion, or its figures or formularies, so scurrilous and offensive in manner that it undermines society generally, by endangering the peace, depraving public morality, shaking the fabric of society or tending to be a cause of civil strife. The 1968 Act prevented such a prosecution. The play had been performed in public for two years without any violence or even demonstrations, and therefore an essential requirement of the offence was not made out.
Hughes LJ, Collins J
[2007] EWHC 2785 (Admin)
Theatres Act 1968
England and Wales
CitedTaylor’s Case 1676
(Year?) An iriformatiori exhibited against him in the Crown Offce, for uttering of dlvers blasphemous expressions, horrible to hear, (viz.) that Jesus Christ was a bastard, a whoremaster, religion was a cheat ; and that he neither feared God, the . .
CitedRegina v Hetherington 1841
Lord Denman CJ directed a jury on a trial for blasphemous libel: ‘Because, a difference of opinion may subsist, not only as between different sects of Christians, but also with regard to the great doctrines of Christianity itself . . even . .
CitedRegina v Ramsay and Foote 1883
Lord Coleridge CJ directed a jury on a trial for blasphemous libel: ‘the mere denial of the truth of the Christian religion or of the Scriptures is not enough per se to constitute a writing a blasphemous libel . . But indecent and offensive attacks . .
CitedBowman v Secular Society Limited HL 1917
The plantiff argued that the the objects of the Secular Society Ltd, which had been registered under the Companies Acts, were unlawful.
Held: The House referred to ‘the last persons to go to the stake in this country pro salute animae’ in 1612 . .
CitedWhitehouse v Lemon; Whitehouse v Gay News Ltd CA 1979
The defendants, editors and publisher respectively of ‘Gay News’ had been accused of blasphemous libel. The magazine had a poem entitled ‘The love that dare not Speak its Name’. it is not a necessary part of the offence that there should be an . .
CitedWhitehouse v Lemon; Whitehouse v Gay News Ltd HL 21-Feb-1979
The appellants challenged their conviction for blasphemous libel. They had published a poem which described homosexual acts carried out on the body of Christ after his death.
Held: For a conviction, it was necessary to show that the defendant . .
CitedRegina v Schildkamp HL 1971
The defendant was accused of defrauding the company’s creditors.
Held: Not guilty. When interpreting a statute, the words of a heading cannot have equal weight with the words of the Act. The courts sometimes have to fill lacunae in . .
CitedWingrove v The United Kingdom ECHR 25-Nov-1996
The applicant had been refused a certification certificate for his video ‘Visions of Ecstasy’ on the basis that it infringed the criminal law of blasphemy. The Court found that the offence was prescribed by law and served the legitimate aim of . .
CitedRegina v Knuller (Publishing, Printing and Promotions) Ltd; Knuller etc v Director of Public Prosecutions HL 1972
The defendants were charged after pasting up in telephone booths advertisements for homosexual services. They published a magazine with similar advertisements. The House was asked to confirm the existence of an offence of outraging public decency. . .
ApprovedRegina v West London Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate, ex parte Klahn QBD 1979
The issue of a summons by a magistrate is a judicial act: ‘The duty of a magistrate in considering an application for the issue of a summons is to exercise a judicial discretion in deciding whether or not to issue a summons. It would appear that he . .
CitedRegina v Clerk to Medway Justices ex parte Department of Health and Social Security 1986
A magistrate asked to issue a summons is entitled to consider delay, even within any time limit for the bringing of prosecutions and, absent any finding that a fair trial would be impossible, at least if there is wholly unexplained delay which can . .
CitedRegina v Metropolitan Magistrate ex parte Choudhury CACD 1991
Watkins LJ discussed the offence of blasphemous libel in the context of a dramatic work: ‘in our opinion a statement will not necessarily be prevented from being a blasphemous libel simply because the statement is put into the mouth of a character, . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 05 February 2021; Ref: scu.261807