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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 November 2007, 17:39 GMT
Court battle over Springer show
Jerry Springer - The Opera
The show's star David Soul defended the broadcast on BBC Two
A Christian activist has launched a High Court battle to bring a private prosecution for blasphemy over Jerry Springer - The Opera.

Stephen Green wants to overturn a court ruling to sue BBC director general Mark Thompson, who allowed the show to be screened on BBC Two in 2005.

He also wants to prosecute the show's producer, who staged it in London's West End and then on a nationwide tour.

Mr Green argues the musical contains images that "vilify God and the Bible".

The director of Christian Voice launched the action in January but the case was refused by the City of Westminster magistrates court.


Michael Gledhill QC, appearing for Mr Green, argued the district judge had made a mistake in refusing to issue the summonses as the show had clearly "crossed the blasphemy threshold".

He said the show was "an offensive, spiteful, systematic mockery and wilful denigration of Christian belief", and one that would never have been staged or aired in Britain had it been a satire about Islam, not Christianity.

"No theatre would have produced it. Neither would the BBC have broadcast it," he said.

Human rights group Liberty, allowed to make a written submission in the case, has called the blasphemy law outdated and argued that the offence of blasphemy violated the European Convention on Human Rights.

"These blasphemy laws should be shelved in dusty archives, not used as a tool to bring mischievous prosecutions against the arts," Liberty's legal officer Anna Fairclough said.

The show, based on American television host Jerry Springer's brash talk show, includes scenes set in Hell with Jesus and Satan.

The West End production of the musical, starring David Soul, was seen by 425,000 people and was watched by an audience of 2.4m when it was broadcast on BBC Two.

The BBC received a record 63,000 complaints as well as many messages of support in response to its content.

The case is expected to last for two days.

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28 Feb 05 |  Magazine
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