BBC pursues Christian Voice for blasphemy case costs

Stephen Green, the founder of the fundamentalist Christian Voice group, has offered the BBC about a third of its costs after he failed in an attempt to prosecute the Director-General Mark Thompson for blasphemy after he broadcast Jerry Springer – the Opera on BBC2. The BBC wants the full costs of £55,000.

Mr Green says that Mr Thompson and Mark Thoday, the producer of Jerry Springer – the Opera who was also named in the attempted prosecution, should be “magnanimous” and waive the fees. Mr Green did not make clear how magnanimous he would have been had Messrs Thompson and Thoday been sent to jail, as he wanted them to be.

Now the BBC says that unless it gets the full costs from Mr Green, the licence-payer will end up footing the bill. In a statement, the BBC said: “Mr Green tried to launch a criminal prosecution… he knew when he embarked on the litigation that he would be required to pay the costs if he were to be unsuccessful. The BBC believes it has a duty to recover legal costs from Mr Green. If it does not do so, the licence-fee payer will effectively be funding Mr Green’s activities.”

Mr Green said that he has been served with a statutory demand that was the first step in bankruptcy, with a charge on his house. He said that he did not have the full amount that was being demanded and that if his house in Carmarthen were to be sold then he would be homeless.

Green said that he did not regret his action, even though the blasphemy law has now been abolished, and that maybe his action helped speed that process. He says that he will now concentrate on “street-witness” (i.e. bellowing through a megaphone at hapless shoppers).

Meanwhile, the editor of The Freethinker, Barry Duke, has launched a petition calling on the South Wales Echo to retract an apology it made to Christian Voice. The Echo published a column with the headline: “If God considers gays an abomination why did he create them?” which prompted a “street witness”-style protest at its offices by Stephen Green and a handful of his supporters. This resulted in the article being pulled from the paper’s website and an apology from the editor being printed. Now Barry Duke wants the paper to take back its apology and reinstate the article on its website in its original form. You can support him by signing the petition.

Also see
Censorship net closes in

8 August 2008