Supplementary memorandum from the Home
1. As you know, the transcript of proceedings
on 12 June [paragraph 35] records that the Chairman asked whether
there is "something special about Section 2 of the Ecclesiastical
Courts Jurisdiction Act of 1860 which deals with things which
would not be susceptible for handling under Public Order even
if we extended it". I undertook to look at it in the light
of the Public Order provisions and let the Committee have a note
on the subject.
The general context of the ECJA seems to be
that of Creating a disturbance in a sacred (as opposed to any
There appears to be a considerable overlap between
the provisions of the ECJA and various public order offences.
In particular, s.5 POA is broad and general, covering disorderly
behaviour as well as threatening, abusive or insulting words or
behaviour. It is also possible that offences contrary to s.2 of
the ECJA could be prosecuted under the common law as breaches
of the peace.
2. You also asked that I check the position
on private prosecutions for blasphemous libel [paragraph 26].
The position appears to be as follows:
There does not appear to be anything which would
prevent a private prosecution from being brought. The only restriction
on both public and private prosecutions is that no prosecution
shall be commenced against the proprietor, publisher, editor or
any person responsible for the publication of a newspaper for
any libel published therein without the order of a judge in chambers.
Such an application must give notice to the person accused who
shall have an opportunity of being heard (Law of Libel Amendment
Act 1888 s.8).