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Judge throws out Jerry Springer – The Opera blasphemy charge

The Daily Mail, UK
Dec. 5, 2007 • Wednesday December 5, 2007

A group of Christian evangelists lost their High Court battle to prosecute BBC director-general Mark Thompson for blasphemy over the cult musical Jerry Springer – The Opera.

Two judges ruled it was reasonable to conclude that the play “in context” could not be considered as blasphemous.

They said the play “as a whole was not and could not reasonably be regarded as aimed at, or an attack on, Christianity or what Christians held sacred.”

The ruling comes as a blow to Christian Voice, which condemned the satirical show as “an offensive, spiteful, systematic mockery and wilful denigration of Christian belief” – something no one would have dreamed of making about the prophet Mohammed and Islam.

The group’s lawyers urged Lord Justice Hughes and Mr Justice Collins, sitting at the High Court in London, to allow the prosecution to go ahead.

They also wanted to prosecute the show’s producer Jonathan Thoday. He staged a nationwide tour, beginning in October 2003 at the Cambridge Theatre in London’s West End and ending at Brighton in July last year.

Christian Voice national director Stephen Green said the show “clearly crossed the blasphemy threshold.”

He applied for court orders overturning District Judge Caroline Tubbs’ refusal at the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court in January to issue a summons against the director-general, who allowed the controversial show to be screened on BBC2 in 2005.

Refusing to intervene, the judges said of Judge Tubbs: “She was entitled to conclude that on the undisputed evidence no jury, correctly directed as to law, could properly convict.”

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