Wingrove 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 protecting the rights of others.
Held: The provision of a system which would allow the refusal of a video certificate permitting distribution, is within an individual nation’s margin of appreciation, and not an infringement of the film distributors right of free speech. ‘Whereas there is little scope under Article 10 paragraph 2 . . for restrictions on political speech or on debate of questions of public interest . . . a wider margin of appreciation is generally available to the contracting states when regulating freedom of expression in relation to matters liable to offend intimate personal convictions within the sphere of morals.’
‘ . . the English law of blasphemy does not prohibit the expression, in any form, of views hostile to the Christian religion. Nor can it be said that opinions which are offensive to Christians necessarily fall within its ambit. As the English courts have indicated, it is the manner in which views are advocated rather than the views themselves which the law seeks to control. The extent of insult to religious feelings must be significant as is clear from the use by the courts of the adjectives ‘contemptuous’, ‘reviling’, ‘scurrilous’, ‘ludicrous’ to depict material of a sufficient degree of offensiveness. The high degree of profanation that must be attained constitutes in itself, a safeguard against arbitrariness. It is against this background that the asserted justification under Article 10(2) in the decisions of the national authorities must be considered.’


Times 05-Dec-1996, Case 19/1995, [1997] 24 EHRR 1, 17419/90, [1996] ECHR 60, [1996] ECHR 60


Worldlii, Bailii


Video Recordings Act 1984, European Convention on Human Rights Art 10.2

Cited by:

CitedRegina v Perrin CACD 22-Mar-2002
The defendant had been convicted of publishing obscene articles for gain under the Act. He lived in London, and published a web site which was stored or hosted abroad, containing pornographic items. The investigating officer had called up the . .
CitedGoldstein, Rimmington v Regina CACD 28-Nov-2003
Two defendants appealed in respect of alleged offences under common law of causing a public nuisance. One had sent race hatred material, and the other bomb hoaxes, through the post. Both claimed that the offence was so ill defined as to be an . .
CitedInterfact Ltd and Another v Liverpool City Council Admn 23-May-2005
The defendants, operators of licensed sex shops, appealed convictions for offences under the Act. The shops had supplied videos rated R*18 by mail order from the shops. The Trading Standards Officer said this did not satisfy the requirement that . .
CitedRegina v Rimmington; Regina v Goldstein HL 21-Jul-2005
Common Law – Public Nuisance – Extent
The House considered the elements of the common law offence of public nuisance. One defendant faced accusations of having sent racially offensive materials to individuals. The second was accused of sending an envelope including salt to a friend as a . .
CitedGreen, 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 . .
CitedCore Issues Trust v Transport for London Admn 22-Mar-2013
The claimant sought judicial review of the decision made by TfL not to allow an advertisement on behalf of the Trust to appear on the outside of its buses. It was to read: ‘NOT GAY! EX-GAY, POST-GAY AND PROUD. GET OVER IT!’. The decision was said to . .
CitedLord Carlile of Berriew QC, and Others, Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 12-Nov-2014
The claimant had supported the grant of a visa to a woman in order to speak to members of Parliament who was de facto leader of an Iranian organsation which had in the past supported terrorism and had been proscribed in the UK, but that proscription . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Media, Human Rights, Crime

Updated: 04 June 2022; Ref: scu.165468