Roman Catholicism on Trial in Victorian England: The Libel Case of John Henry Newman and Dr. Achilli
55 Pages Posted: 24 May 2010 Last revised: 23 Jun 2010
Date Written: 1996
An analysis of the criminal libel trial of John Henry Newman under Lord Campbell's act. Regina v. Newman reflected the contemporary debate concerning Roman Catholicism in English society and confirmed the second-class status of Roman Catholicism in England. Aligning themselves with the unsavory Dr. Achilli, the government and Church of England wanted the verdict to perpetuate their unquestioned control. Even after Newman's guilt was established by the jury, Campbell interpreted the provision of his statute liberally to permit the introduction of new evidence after trial to mitigate his sentence. Thus, although the court concluded that Newman had to lose, a superficial loss was sufficient. This religiously charged trial did much to establish the bounds of the statutory defense of truth under Lord Campbell's act.
Keywords: Libel, Slander, Lord Campbell, John Henry Newman, Dr. Achilli, Roman Catholicism
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