Stephen Fry will no longer be investigated by Irish police under blasphemy laws.
Yesterday, it was reported that after he described God as being an “utter maniac” and “utterly monstrous” in an interview from 2015, he would face a full investigation which could have led to a fine of €25,000.
However, the Irish Independent are now reporting that initial inquiries have been carried out and officers have decided that not enough people have been outraged by Fry’s comments and so there will be no further investigation.
A source told the paper: “This man was simply a witness and not an injured party. Gardaí (Irish police) were unable to find a substantial number of outraged people. For this reason the investigation has been concluded.”
Over seven million people have now watched a clip of the interview from Irish TV programme The Meaning Of Life in which Fry was asked what he would say to God if he got the chance.
“I’ll say ‘bone cancer in children? What’s that about?’” he replied. “How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault. It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain? That’s what I’d say.”
According to Ireland’s Defamation Act 2009, a person who publishes or utters blasphemous material “shall be guilty of an offence” and a conviction can lead to a hefty fine.
On the programme, Fry also said: “The God who created this universe, if it was created by a God, is quite clearly a maniac. Utter maniac. Totally selfish. We have to spend our life on our knees thanking him? What kind of God would do that?”
He continued: “On the assumption that there is one, what kind of God is he? It’s perfectly apparent that he’s monstrous. Utterly monstrous and deserves no respect whatsoever. The moment you banish him, your life becomes simpler, purer, cleaner and more worth living in my opinon.”
A man who wishes to remain anonymous said he made the complaint more than two years ago at a police station in County Clare.
“I told the garda [police] I wanted to report Fry for uttering blasphemy and RTÉ for publishing/broadcasting it and that I believed these were criminal offences under the Defamation Act 2009,” he said.
“The garda then took a formal written statement from me in which I quoted Fry’s comments in detail. This written statement mentioned both Fry and RTÉ specifically.”
He also said that although he had not been personally offended, he “simply believed that the comments made by Fry on RTÉ were criminal blasphemy and that I was doing my civic duty by reporting a crime.”
At the time, the host of The Meaning Of Life, Gay Byrne, said: “Of course [Fry] hadn’t wished to cause offence. But that’s what the internet is for, controversy, debate and people’s opinions.”
Meanwhile, Fry himself addressed the controversy at the time on Radio 4’s Today programme. “I was astonished that it caused so viral an explosion on Twitter and elsewhere. I’m most pleased that it’s got people talking,” he said.
“I never wished to offend anybody who is individually devout or pious, and indeed many Christians have been in touch with me to say that they are very glad that things should be talked about.”