A Christian group has been rejected in its high court attempt to prosecute the BBC director general over the screening of Jerry Springer - The Opera.

Stephen Green, director of Christian Voice, had attempted to overturn a January court ruling which prevented him from suing Mark Thompson for screening the controversial show on BBC2.

Mr Green brought the case against Mr Thompson and the show's producer in January but was refused by the City of Westminster magistrates court.

According to Michael Gledhill, QC, appearing for Mr Green in the high court earlier this month, the district judge had been mistaken in refusing the January summons as the production "crossed the blasphemy threshold".

He said the show was "an offensive, spiteful, systematic mockery and wilful denigration of Christian belief", and would never have been have made it to the stage or screen had it satirised Islam, rather than Christianity.

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

But two judges have ruled the play could not be considered as blasphemous "in context".

The production "as a whole was not and could not reasonably be regarded as aimed at, or an attack on, Christianity or what Christians held sacred", judges Anthony Hughes and Andrew Collins added.

Speaking to the Reuters news agency, Lord Justice Hughes explained the ruling, saying: "The play had been performed regularly in major theatres in London for a period of nearly two years without any sign of it undermining society or occasioning civil strife or unrest."

05/12/2007 13:58:15