LLB English Legal System Case Analysis Test

Question # 1:

What is meant by the citation“[1979] AC 617”?

[1979] AC 617 is actually as court case, which involves the blasphemy law in the United Kingdom.

What were the hearing dates of this case?

The first hearing of the case of Whitehouse v Lemon, Whitehouse v Gay News Ltd[1979] AC 617 is recorded on 4 July 1977, whereas the second hearing was on Monday 11 July 1977. In the next year of 1978 on 17 March, the third hearing occurred.

On what date were the judgments delivered in this case?

The judgment was delivered on 21 February 1979.

In which courts was this case previously heard?

The case was previously heard at central Criminal Court, which is commonly known as Old Bailey.

Who was the judge at the appellant’s trial?

At the appellant’s trial, the judge was Lord Scarman.

Question # 2:

What was the name of the person who commenced this private prosecution?

The name of the person who commenced this private prosecution was the respondent named as Mrs. Mary Whitehouse.

Question # 3:

Give the names of counsel for the appellant, and counsel for the respondent, in this case.

Louis Blom-Cooper Q.C. and Geoffrey Robertson were the counsels of the Lemon Appellant while John Smyth and Jeremy Maurice were the counsels of respondent Mary Whitehouse.

Question # 4:

The following quotations from this case set out identical facts:

i)‘A private prosecution was instituted against the appellants by the respondent charging them with blasphemous libel, the particulars of offence alleging that they had unlawfully and wickedly published or caused to be published a blasphemous libel concerning the Christian religion, namely, an obscene poem and illustration vilifying Christ in His life and in His crucifixion.’ (page 617)

ii)‘My Lords, the appellants, Gay News Ltd. and Denis Lemon, were tried at the

Central Criminal Court on an indictment which contained the following count:

Statement of Offence Blasphemous libel.‘Particulars of Offence Gay News Ltd. and Denis Lemon on a day or days unknown between May 1 and June 30, 1976, unlawfully and wickedly published or caused to be published in a newspaper called'Gay News No. 96' a blasphemous libel concerning the Christian religion namely an obscene poem and illustration vilifying Christ in His life and in His crucifixion.’(per Viscount Dilhorne, page 639)

Which of these two accounts is more authoritative and why?

From the above two accounts second one is more authoritative as the same demonstrated the clear identification of the offence, offender and the evidence of the publishing of the blasphemous libel relating to the Christian religion.  Despite both the accounts are similar and possess identical facts but the first one is not significantly highlighting the relevant facts and description of the parties to the case simply stating the case in a generalized way. On the other hand, second quotation sets out to be with identifying characteristics of each case parties along with the claim brought forward by the appellants in front of the House of lords along with the indication of the case is forwarded by the Central Criminal Court to the present court (Post, 1995, p. 98). Visit our website and send in your concerns related to copywriting service online and give us the opportunity to present our esteemed feedback.

Question # 5:

In which courts was this case heard before it reached the House of Lords? Give an account of how each of those courts dealt with the case.

The case was heard first in the Court of Appeal, who practiced that the law of general public importance was involved within the decision given by them to dismiss the appeals. The points included in their decision was to determine the appropriateness of the trial judge in first ruling and then in  directing the jury for securing the conviction of the appellants to publish the blasphemous libel (University of London. School of Oriental and African Studies. Dept. of Law, 2000, p. 45). The judgment given by the Court of Appeal for this case contains the valuable historical survey of most of the relevant cases with specific reference to the intention of the publisher in publishing the blasphemous matter (Hare& Weinstein, 2011, p. 293).

Gay News Ltd, were tried at the Central Criminal Court before going to the House of the Lords and it was found that the appellants were guilty by a majority of verdict of ten of two due to which they appealed to the Court of Appeal on different grounds. The Court of Appeal have dismissed the appeal against the conviction with the involvement of point of the law of general public importance as mentioned above in this section of the paper (University of London. School of Oriental and African Studies. Dept. of Law, 2000, p. 68). At the Central Criminal Court, the case was counted on the basis of the statement of Offence Blasphemous libel under which the Gay News Ltd unlawfully and wickedly published a blasphemous libel in the news paper. This blasphemous libel was concerning the Christian religion namely an obscene poem with the illustration of vilifying Christ in life and in His crucifixion (Hare& Weinstein, 2011, p. 295).

Question # 6:

What is meant by consolidated appeals?

If two or more than two individuals are permitted to appeal from a judgment or order of a district court while their interest area is similar to make joint appeal, they can file a notice of appeal or can also join the appeal after filing the distinct notices of appeal. Furthermore, they can proceed on the appeal as a single plaintiff.  This appeal can be consolidated through the orders issued by the courts of appeal on its own action or action of party or even by the requirement of the parties of the several appeals (Wright& Leipold, 2008).

Question # 7:

At the trial, the jury found the words to be blasphemous and this finding is not appealed against. What, according to Their Lordships, did a finding that the words were blasphemous actually mean?

When the private prosecution brought the case against the editor and publishers of'Gay News', the prosecution admitted that they use blasphemous language in their published poem, which is concerning with the Christian religion and illustrated the vilifying Christ in His life and in His crucifixion. However, at the trial, when jury was directing the case, he admitted that blaspheme was an essential factor in the offence of blasphemous libel. This issue raised the question about the blasphemous content or act of blasphemy as according to the jury, the word blasphemous in the poem meant to express the vilify Christ in his life and in his crucifixion and in such way the term is likely to provoke a sense of outrage among those who believe or respect the Christian faith. Buy research paper online to get professional layout and accurately instilled details.

Moreover, the case has identified the word blasphemous libel from the perspective of jury and their lordship, it is found that the words published in the poem reflect as the accused, looked at objectively, as well as had the inclination to turn out the negative impacts on readers. Besides it, the jury opinion is that the publication was a libel calculated to vilify the  Majesty of Christ,  In addition to this, the lordships of jury reflected that among the Christians, it is a necessary elements and the usage of blasphemous liable were wrong and are morally blameworthy.

Question # 8:

Summarise the general point of public importance to which it was felt the House of Lords should give consideration.

Due to the significance of the publication in the point of view of the Christian religion, the public importance was highly considerable that gave rise to the need that the House of Lord should give consideration to the appeal. This can also be referred to the objection about the publication matters used in this case as deemed as publication of blasphemous libel relating to the Christian religion was the substantial subject of the immunity of public interest in the society. Moreover, the issues requiring the statute or the policy changes requires a standard justification to generate a strict liability related to the criminal offence. The cases highlighting the criminal offence imposing severe threats to the public health, public protection, public ethics or public order need to be considered by the House of Lord (Slapper& Kelly, 2004, p. 125).

Therefore in this presented case of Whitehouse -v- Lemon; Whitehouse -v- Gay News Ltd, such publication material used by the newspaper was found real threat to the public morale, and the involvement from the House of Lord was considered very necessary.  The general point for public importance highlighted in this case includes the queries regarding the correctness of the trial courts in decreeing the jury about the security of the appellants. The concerns requiring House of Lord to view the case can be significantly divided into two relating to the sufficiency of viewing the cause behind such publication and the appellants’ intention behind such publication affecting the morals of general public (Radan, Meyerson,& Croucher, 2005, p. 192).

Question # 9:

Summarize briefly the arguments made by counsel in the House of Lords on behalf of:

a) the appellant; and

b) the respondent.

a) Appellant

The Louis Blom-Cooper Q.C. and Geoffrey Robertson for the appellant Lemon argued that the appellant does not propose to argue that blasphemous libel as a crime does not exist. The appellants heads of arguments include the blasphemous libel was not a crime sui generis, it was the species of the criminal libel, and after the Fox’s libel act 1792, the indictments for criminal libel always contained averments of the intention being relevant to the offence. The intention averred would depend on the nature of the libel and failure to aver the intention did not make the indictment awful. With our writing help you can buy assignment to submit it without investing much effort.

Moreover, counsel of appellants also argued that the out of the four species of criminal libel three of them that are defamatory libel, seditious libel and obscene libel surely required the proof of the subjective intention to the major ingredient of the offence over and above the intention to publish.  Moreover, it is argued that there are five stages in the development of the common law crime of the blasphemous libel and as the mens rea in the obscene libel at the common law.  This demonstrated that there is failure to realize that the publication will cause the individuals to think particular thoughts or perform particular acts that have an inclination to degrade and fraud (Edge, 2002).


The John Smyth and Jeremy Maurice argued that the account should be taken of the way in which the policy of the legislature has been going concerning mens rea in the communal offences. They also argued that there are several forms of criminal libel that always contain the ingredients of the intention to the publish and hence of these absolute offences, the inadvertent publication has always been the defence and matters only to the vicarious liability of the master until the lord Campbell’s act 1843. Moreover, the defamatory libel, obscene libel and the blasphemous libel have never contained any additional element of mens rea beyond that of the intent to publish.  The counsel of respondent also argued that concerning the case of Boucher v. the King (1951) there is no discussion of any other forms of criminal libel than seditious libel and thus the case supports the view that seditious libel may have diverged from other kinds of libel (Edge, 2002).

Question # 10:

Explain the approach of the majority to the conclusion they reach on the appeal.

The Gay News Ltd. publishes a newspaper for the individuals who are homosexuals, called“Gay News”, the editor of the newspaper was Denis Lemon, holding most of the shares in the company. The Lords appeared with conclusion that intention was not required, hence, Lord Scarman was standing with his opinion that the law of the blasphemy is needed to cover all the religions and does not only concern Christianity. The judges believed that the strict liabilities should be developed for those who are responsible to hurt the religious feelings of the citizens. The conclusion made by the jury with a combined consideration of the case of the blasphemy, the majority of the conclusion can be located with the implicit decision that the poem was thoroughly offend-able and the obscene drawing was presenting the life of the Christ in an immense blasphemous manner. In the second trial, the Lord Chief Justice uttered the similar words in order to present a comprehensive conclusion for the case of the blasphemy that the actions taken through the print media against the respected and holy Christ are completely intolerable in every context of religious and social manners. Our promising essay writing help will stun your readers with commendable essay fashioned to cater all your requirements.

The Jury made their decision showing a deep concern towards the respect of the Christ, that every issue, which challenges the truth of the Christianity, will be taken under serious considerations. Whereas, the Court of Appeal appeared reaching to the conclusion that for a defendant to be accountable for publishing a blasphemous libel; will be covered under strict sentences decided for the blasphemy acts. Therefore, it can be said that after going through all the decisions made by the judges at trials that, every individual, who has published a blasphemous document or speak a blasphemous word will be taken under the offence of the blasphemy and will be treated under the decided sentences (Archbold, Richardson, Thomas,& Campbell, 2006).

Question # 11:

Explain why Lord Diplock and Lord Edmund-Davies, in the minority, would have decided the appeal differently.

In the case Whitehouse vs. Lemon or Whitehouse vs. Gay News Ltd, the differentiation of appeal has been found, which mainly depended on the argument whether or not the act of publishing the poem by the Gay News magazine was intentional or not. This appeal was dependent on this argument because it could prove the guilt in the context of the blasphemous law prevailing in the country.  Throughout the case process, it has been observed that the Lord Diplock and Lord Edmund-Davies adopted dissenting manner in dealing with the appeal of the case, as they dismissed the first appeal of the case stating that the offence of publishing a blasphemous libel did not depend on the accused having intent to blaspheme. Rather the act of publishing such material that falls into the blasphemous libel proves that the act was blasphemous and matter of intentional or unintentional is not important. Here, it is also significant to address the issue related to breach of the peace because according to Lord Diplock and Lord Edmund-Davies, the act of Gay News magazine caused the breach of peace. Moreover, the explanation provided by the editor of Gay News magazine that act was not made intentional but for the reason to provide the readers with the information, regarding the life of the Christ does not justify. The significant development was observed in the case when the court of appeal rejected the argument of having the intention for the offence blasphemous libel provoking the breach of peace, as the act of publishing caused the tendency to provoke the breach of peace. Moreover, the act of publishing was intended to hurt the religious feelings of the Christians, therefore, Lord Diplock and Lord Edmund-Davies decided the appeal differently. Buy thesis online and ace your academics comfortably.

Question # 12:

Which of the five judgments do you find most persuasive and which do you find the least persuasive? Give reasons for your answer.

After the examination of the offences, it can be said that the ground covered by the blasphemy and blasphemous libel is covered by more modern and statutory offences. The arguments given for this case are distinguished on the basis of: 1) the protection of religion and religious beliefs, 2) the protection of society, 3) the protection of individual feelings, 4) the protection of public order, and 5) protection of human rights (Keilhack, 2007, p. 13). The argument based on the protection of individual feelings was found to be the most persuasive and it was observed that the arguments were quite evenly balanced, while the presence of a pressing social need may justify the imposition of penalties for incitement to racial hatred because there was no corresponding need within the context of religion, which may justify the offence of blasphemy (Keilhack, 2007, p. 15).

One of the judgments given on this case has the authority of the House of Lords but it concerns the question of the mental element and guilty mind, which is necessary for the commission of the offence.  It was observed that some of the remarks about the criminal act were made in the speeches of this case but the court did not hear the complete arguments and the remarks are thus of persuasive significance (Bowman v. Secular Society Ltd, 1917). It is further reaffirmed in another reported judgment of case that the protection of blasphemy law extended only to the beliefs of the Church of England and that the book under consideration could not be prosecuted for blasphemy against Islam and is thus the least persuasive authority ( R v Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, ex parte Choudhury, 1991). The last reported judgment in this case affirms the earlier rulings held that for blasphemy, there must be blasphemy there must be scurrilous language (R v. Gott, 1922). Get online dissertation help to design a diversified dissertation.

Question # 13:

Which of Their Lordships specifically addresses the issue of reform of the law of blasphemy? What does he propose and why? By what means does he seem to envisage these reform proposals coming about?

 Lord Scarman specifically addresses the issue of the reform of the law of blasphemy in the hearing. Such proposal by the Lord Scarman was due to his personal opinion requiring that the law should be modified and should start covering all the religions and not simply focusing on the religion of Christianity. He requires the change in the reform and wanted the strict procedures for the people that conduct the serious offences with respect to the religious feelings of the public. Moreover, the purpose behind such modification was also the depraving of the corrupted people that will possibly read the material. The Lord in his proceedings highlighted the significance of changes in society and with respect to changing expectations and shifting time and experiences in the society also require amendments. Therefore, he referred to the reformation of law with respect to the social changes in the modern era (Radan, Meyerson,& Croucher, 2005, p. 195).

The changes or reforms proposed in the blasphemy libel by the Lord Scarman during the House of Lord Appeal determined the way the Lord Scarman views the coming about the proposal for the reform in the law. As he determined that, the common-law offence of blasphemous libel does not serve into the modern law, it shows that according to him, the blasphemous law is insufficient to serve for the purpose of the law. Since the modern law has changed through times and evolved with the acceptance of the change, while the offence related to blasphemous libel and provoking the breach of peace belongs to the group of criminal, therefore, having law against the criminal of offences can serve for bringing harmony in the country.  Further, the modern law of blasphemy, according to him, could have been viewed as strict compliance with the respect for all religions, while avoiding revealing or publishing any type of blasphemous content with any intention. We provide the opportunity to buy coursework writing service from us.


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