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Brits Do Something About Phony Mediums, Three Cheers!

by Mark Edward, Jun 26 2010

The British government is about to take some serious steps to make it a crime to take money under false pretenses – especially if that pretense has anything to do with calling back dead people from their graves. It’s about time. We can only hope that the numskulls in our own government* will get a clue and follow suit.

According to UK  sources at

“If British legislators have their way, a series of new EU-inspired consumer protection regulations will be in place to safeguard against fraudulent activity in a widening range of commercial activity. Of course, the mediums and spiritualists are crying foul and feel this move will wreak havoc on their practices of communicating with the deceased and predicting the future.

Also according to this report, on April 18, about a dozen (only a dozen?) British mediums, psychics, healers and Tarot card readers congregated in Trafalgar Square before marching to the Prime Minister’s office at 10 Downing St. to submit a petition with up to 10,000 signatures requesting that the government maintain the law currently on the books and forget about the new measures altogether.

The most vocal opponents are in favour of retaining the 1951 Fraudulent Mediums Act whereby prosecutors had to prove that a medium or healer intended to commit fraud in order to secure a conviction.

The 1951 Act replaced the more archaic 1735 Witchcraft Act. The latter ended the practice of executing those who claimed to have supernatural powers. Although it shunned executions, it contained no presumption of innocence and automatically assumed mystics were frauds, to be punished with a prison sentence or a fine.

In turn, the 1951 Act carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison or a fine. The law, however, has been rarely enforced due to the reversed legal onus upon prosecutors to prove there was an intention to deliberately deceive a client. As a result, the UK’s Guardian reports that there have been fewer than ten convictions over the past twenty years. The new regulations that are expected to be adopted will provide a range of criminal and civil penalties, including two year prison sentences for the most egregious cases.

The aspect most disconcerting to the spiritualist community is that, once again, there will be no need for prosecutors to prove an intention to commit fraud. “

Good I say! We should adopt the same strategies here in the U.S.A.

“The presumption of innocence will be retracted so that spiritualists and mediums must prove they did not mislead, coerce or take advantage of any ‘vulnerable’ consumers.”

Now THAT’S a switch. Old UK frauds like Rosemary Altea will have to prove they didn’t mislead their sitters.

The article goes on:

“The government appears unreceptive to the spritualists’ protest due to the fact that the regulations are aimed at more than simply covering the realms of divination and mediumship. As reported in the Guardian: “If the Consumer Protection Regulations are approved by Parliament, as is likely…the regulations will come into force on 26 May. They will ban 31 types of unfair sales practice outright, including bogus closing-down sales, prize-draw scams and aggressive doorstep selling, and will for the first time establish a catch-all duty not to trade unfairly, closing loopholes that rogue traders have been able to exploit”.

“By lumping spiritualism in as a consumer service, mediums assert they are prone to a spike in lawsuits if customers are somehow dissatisfied with the information they receive. The solution, according to legal experts is to provide a disclaimer up front, making it clear that any communication with the other side is undertaken strictly for ‘entertainment purposes’ or as a ‘scientific experiment’.

Oh no. Not that ugly little “for entertainment purposes” again! I confess I have used that one myself a few times. As much as it goes against my character as a “psychic enetertainer” to do it, I guess if I ever perform another seance in the UK, I will have to do a disclaimer.

And then there’s that God dodge so popular with Sylvia Browne and other despicable scam artists who hide behind the Bible:

“Spiritualists claim that such measures discriminate against their practices which they believe are religious in nature. Carole McEntee-Taylor, a healer who recently co-founded the Spiritual Workers’ Association said in an interview with The Guardian that having to stand up and describe the invoking of spirits as an ‘experiment’ was forcing spiritualists to ‘lie and deny our beliefs’. She added: ‘No other religion has to do that. And how can you tell if someone is vulnerable? You would have to ask them if they felt vulnerable, or had mental health issues, or were of a nervous disposition.’

BTW: McEntee-Taylor’s website warns: 

“The changes in the legislation are a minefield… given Britain’s litigation culture. We have to fight it. If not, we will go back to the Dark Ages, where we will be persecuted and prosecuted.”


In the present situation we find ourselves in (that I warmly refer to as The Golden Age of the Con), I’d say we are in a New Dark Age right now and a few persecutions and prosecutions may be in order. Please don’t call me a Witch-finder General, but I smell smoke. McEntee also breaks my heart with this sentiment:

 “This is unfair on genuine spiritualists. Some people are very nervous of entrapment.”

Genuine spiritualists? Other than the fact that you are genuinely conning people out of money and their natural right to grieve, grief vampires everywhere should be nervous. Very nervous. Some of the awakened sitters who have been scammed by you and your ilk will now be turning the seance tables on you. If you don’t want to get entrapped in your own bullcrap, get on your brooms and fly away.

I’m confident that anybody without any hope who has had a Robbie Thomas, Kelli Faulkner or Chip Coffey show up at their front door when their child has gone missing felt mighty entrapped by their grief. Taking advantage of it is now going to be illegal – at least in England.

Spritiualism, however, does possess a distinct commercial side to it, so ultimately, the distinction between it existing as a commercial enterprise and a religion is blurred in the minds of many British citizens. If the Spiritualist Church in Britain, founded in the mid 1800s does indeed legally constitute a religious organization, they may have an opportunity to make a case for discrimination before the European Court of Human Rights.

The likelihood of increased civil litigation seems unlikely since plaintiffs will still be held to certain legal standards in bringing their cases forward. Simply claiming nothing more than the defendant misled them will not hold up in any respectable court of law in the country.

Skeptics still abound and they see nothing wrong with the change in law. The website Skeptical Monkey writes: “In order to differentiate themselves from the charlatans, all they have to do is prove their claims are true. Any person who claims to provide a service to the public should first be willing to prove that they can actually provide that service.” And as with any commercial transaction, there exists a buyer beware element. Though the new regulations seek to protect ‘vulnerable’ individuals (which is difficult to define on its own), most reasonable people can judge for themselves whether the information they are receiving is authentic or not. And of course, if people feel they have been bilked, they can simply refuse to pay. Nothing and no one is preventing them from doing so in protest. “

So once again, the gauntlet has been thrown. Whether or not we can expect it to be picked up with actions and not just words remains to be seen.  Whatever the outcome, this is a newsworthy step in the right direction. Gee, I wonder if ABC or any of their affiliates are covering this story? I can’t wait to hear the first case and the creative excuses spiritualists will conjure up as they have for centuries. Hopefully now when they have to prove to the courts that they didn’t mislead their sitters, they will have to prove they had psychic powers – or go to jail.

In another article at:  :

Emma-Louise Rhodes, a researcher for BadPsychics, which seeks to expose malpractice, said: ‘Hopefully, the new regulations will bring to justice those who have cruelly sought to exploit the bereaved for personal financial gain.’

A legal specialist said: ‘Now there is no difference between a psychic and a double-glazing salesman in law.’


A bit closer to home, please read at <> &id=7493311 how  San Jose, CA law enforcement caught up with a psychic and how fraud was proved in a case that will hopefully send a message to a few more charlatans here in the U.S.A..

It seems that getting people to not feel foolish about being ripped off and being willing to step up and face the music when it comes to phony psychics and mediums is key to getting convictions. Stories like the two mentioned here are good examples of how the word is getting out that fighting this social menace is the right thing to do.We are making a difference.

Early Psychic Career Ladder

And please, before the armchair skeptics who do nothing but find ways to criticize my approach jump all over me for suggesting a “witch-hunt,” there’s no need to be too worried about any little old ladies getting badly burned – except legally. It’s a different world now and real people are getting hurt in very real ways by the self-styled witches we have to deal with today. There’s no hysteria, just common sense. There’s no religious agenda, just science. For illumination on the past we have books like Reginald Scot’s “Discoverie of Witchcraft” that clearly showed the sordid world of tricksters and cunning that went on without any supernatural help way back in 1570. In the present, we can refer to thousands of other skeptical books that are there to guide us. As for the future; we can all be glad that there are decent people working hard to make it clear that all anyone who claims they can talk to dead people has to do is to get them to talk back – in court.

The Big Book of Boo: One of Reginald Scot's orignal copies of "The Discoverie of Witchcraft"


* The guy sitting in the row in front of these two…  he’s on Facebook, and the guy behind Hennessy is checking
out the baseball scores.
These are the folks that couldn’t get the budget out by Oct. 1,  and are about to control your health care, cap
and trade, and the list goes on….
House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr. , R-Norwalk, pictured standing, far right, speaks while colleagues Rep. Barbara Lambert, D-Milford and Rep. Jack F. Hennessy, D-Bridgeport, play solitaire Monday night as the House convened to vote on a new budget. (AP)

15 Responses to “Brits Do Something About Phony Mediums, Three Cheers!”

  1. Sgerbic says:

    “anyone who claims they can talk to dead people has to do is to get them to talk back – in court”

    Love it!

    BTW that picture was of Australia right?

  2. Simon says:

    The uk thing is good but all your links are from 2years ago we’ve had a successful prosecution since then.

    • Mark Edward says:

      Thanks for the speedy up-dates. I just heard about this on the radio a few days ago and it sounded like it was just happening. Guess I should have checked the dates huh? Still, it was news to me and your up-date site makes it even better.

  3. AUJT says:

    Right on! Right on! Right on!

  4. Max says:

    “The presumption of innocence will be retracted so that spiritualists and mediums must prove they did not mislead, coerce or take advantage of any ‘vulnerable’ consumers.”

    The UK seems to have a problem with the “innocent until proven guilty” concept. The UK libel laws already forced defendants to prove their innocence, and now this.

    • Max says:

      Another example here.

      In the United Kingdom, statute law provides for criminal penalties for failing to decrypt data on request from the Police. If the suspect is unwilling (or unable) to do so, it is an offence. Citizens can therefore be convicted and imprisoned without any proof that the encrypted material was unlawful. Further, the onus is on the defendant to decrypt the data, and having lost the key or the password is not considered reasonable excuse.

    • MadScientist says:

      However, in this instance the presumption of guilt is sensible. Those poor folks who still believe in spiritualism need to genuinely think about what they’re doing. Not all spiritualists are aware that they are cons (that is, they believe their own mumbo-jumbo), but this ignorance or self-deception does not make their claims true.

      Now who’ll take up the job of prosecuting religions for their claims of leading people to heaven? Now there’s an even larger con which is still run with impunity.

      • Max says:

        If the guilt is so easy to prove here, then simply prove it. There’s no need to retract the presumption of innocence.

  5. Dionigi says:

    Why do the mediums have to petition the prime minister don’t they know what is going to happen??

  6. I bet they never saw this coming.

  7. Yogzotot says:

    Just to point this out, as it is only mentioned between the lines or in the original sources: The whole UK debate is from 2008. The “Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading” Regulations No. 1277 came into force in the UK in 2008 as planned, and replaced the Fraudulent Mediums Act.

    Unfortunately, the new Regulations don’t mention mediums or psychics or the services they offer specifically – you can just infer that they are covered under the basic case that a product or service does not deliver or work the way it is advertised (“the nature of the product”), i.e. that they talk to the dead. For example, making false claims to cure illnesses etc. is mentioned specifically.

    You can find the complete act on

  8. GoneWithTheWind says:

    I knew they were going to do that…

  9. MadScientist says:

    Amazing – so a law from 1735 was more enlightened than a law from 1951? Specifically, the legislators appear to have accepted that people claiming supernatural powers really had none and are either crazy and should be ignored or out to fleece people of their money and should be fined or imprisoned, but in any case shouldn’t be killed for working with the devil because there’s just no such thing … Then perhaps some people get the silly notion that stating the truth (there is no such thing as people who can talk to the dead etc.) must be offensive and people who make such phony claims should be “respected”. Huh. And cults want laws forcing people to respect the cult beliefs and not call them ridiculous. Let’s go back to 1735 and learn to call a spade a spade.

  10. Tasdeeq Islam says:

    1. There are some so-called spiritualists or psychics who claim they can contact the spirits of the dead and get answers. This is because of a myth that people have something in them that is alive, invisible, colorless, odorless, lighter than air and immortal. They call it spirit or soul.
    2. Human soul is nothing but a myth.
    3. If soul keeps the body alive, why then people die of starvation? Why soul cannot keep the body alive without food?
    4. Fact is that human body converts food into energy that keeps the body alive. When the production of this energy ceases, the body dies. Neither does mythical soul enter into the body at the time of birth or conception; nor, does it go out of the body at death.
    5. People in old days believed that everything has a body and a soul. Body was the outermost visible part and soul was the innermost invisible part. Today, thanks to science, we call them matter and energy.
    6. Human body converts food into energy that keeps the body alive. When the production of this energy ceases, the body dies.
    7. In Holy Books, God also used the word “soul” in the meaning of energy. When God breathed His Energy into Adam, man-animal evolved into human.
    8. The dead are unconscious much like a sleeping person. They cannot hear anything, and therefore cannot be contacted. If someone claims that he/she can contact the dead, ask him to contact the soul of a sleeping person and get some answers from his soul. It should be much easier for the spiritualist as the sleeping person is not dead and still has his soul in his body.

  11. Fiscalli says:

    I know that Psychic TV has the cop out ‘ for entertainment only’ but that doesn’t stop them making claims such as the energy involved in writing your text provides them with the necessary information to give you a reading. Surely something can be done to help protect the vulnerable people that are being ripped off. One of their famous mediums charges £37 for the first 20 minutes.

    That’s entertainment?