Sunday, 17 August 2008

The Witchcraft Act

In 1944, Helen Duncan was the last person to be jailed under the Witchcraft Act, on the grounds that she had pretended to summon spirits. It is often contested that her imprisonment was in fact at the behest of superstitious Intelligence officers who feared she would reveal the secret plans for D-Day. She came to the attention of the authorities after supposedly contacting a sailor of HMS Barham whose sinking was hidden from the general public at the time. She spent nine months in prison.

Although Duncan has been frequently described as the last person to be convicted under the Act, in fact Jane Rebecca Yorke was convicted under the Act later that same year.

The last threatened use of the Act against a medium was in 1950.

In 1951 the last Witchcraft Act was repealed with the enactment of the Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951, largely at the instigation of Spiritualists through the agency of Thomas Brooks M.P.


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