Court tosses suit over BBC's 'Springer' airing


LONDON -- A Christian Evangelical pressure group has seen its attempt to sue the BBC for blasphemy over the decision to air "Jerry Springer -- The Opera" thrown out by the High Court.

Two judges ruled that the program, which the BBC aired in 2005, did not constitute an attack on Christianity.

"As a whole (it) was not and could not reasonably be regarded as aimed at, or an attack on, Christianity or what Christians held sacred," Lord Justice Hughes and Mr. Justice Collins said in their ruling, according to wire reports.

The Christian Voice group was attempting a private prosecution against BBC director general Mark Thompson, a practicing Catholic, about the show, which depicted Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, God and Satan as contestants on a fictional edition of "The Jerry Springer Show."

The BBC welcomed the ruling and said it should not have had to waste public money defending the case.

"We are pleased to note the High Court's decision today. We note the court's decision that a private criminal prosecution for blasphemy in relation to 'Jerry Springer -- The Opera' had no prospect of success and should not proceed," the pubcaster said in a statement.

The BBC said it had given "the most careful consideration" to its decision to broadcast the show.

"We believe the work, taken in its proper context, satirizes and attacks exploitative chat shows and not the Christian religion. The court's judgment today vindicates that decision in full."