Wednesday, 8 January 2014

To the example and terror of others is manifest, that you are guilty airt and pairt of horrid blasphemy, railling against and cursing our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and impugneing and denying the truth of the holy Scriptures, and the quarrelling and argueing against the being of God and against his providence in making and governing the world, which being found by the verdict of an Assize, you ought to be punished by death, and the confiscation of your moveables, to the example and terror of others to committ the lyke in tyme coming.
From the indictment against Thomas Aikenhead who, on the eighth of January 1697, became the last person in Britain to be executed for blasphemy.

Public prosecutions for blasphemy continued in Britain until 1922, when John William Gott was the last person in Britain to be sent to prison for behaviour considered likely to annoy a supenatural being.

The common-law offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel were finally abolished in England and Wales under the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. It's been so long since a successful prosecution for blasphemy in Scotland that some legal commentators believe it's no longer a crime north of the border, either. Blasphemy and blasphemous libel are still offences under the common law of Northern Ireland.