A. P. Herbert
from Misleading Cases in the Common Law
The hearing of this case was concluded today in the Court of Criminal Appeal.
The Lord Chief Justice, delivering judgment, said: In this painful case the defendants are the proprietors and editors of certain Sunday newspapers. They were charged at the Old Bailey, on an information laid by the Sunday Society, with certain offenses under the Sunday Observance Act, 1677--an Act of the reign of Charles II, which has never been repealed. All the defendants were found guilty, and they were sentenced to fines ranging from five hundred thousand to two million pounds, or in the alternative to imprisonment for a very long time; and they have now appealed on the ground that these sentences are excessive.
That the offenses were committed is not seriously disputed. By the Act it is laid down that
No tradesmen, artificers, workmen, laborers, or other person whatsoever shall do or exercise any worldly labor, business, or work of their ordinary callings upon the Lord's Day, or any part thereof.
It was proved to the satisfaction of the judge and jury that the accused persons have for many years distributed, sold, and in some cases printed their newspaper upon the Lord's Day, or some part thereof. And