The campaign continues to posthumously pardon “the last witch”, UK medium Helen Duncan. The strange tale of how Duncan was charged, possibly in order to suppress her psychic secret-telling about World War II operations, has made the Daily Mail:
When the battleship Barham was torpedoed by the Germans in November 1941, with the loss of over 800 lives, the Admiralty delayed announcing the news to maintain morale. But the secrecy was ended within a few days when medium Helen Duncan told a couple during a seance that their son, a sailor on the ship, had appeared from the spirit world to tell them it had sunk.
In one of the most bizarre acts of the Second World War, Mrs Duncan was accused of leaking military secrets – and became the last woman jailed as a witch in the UK. Now campaigners want an official pardon for the Scots-born mother of six, who spent nine months in Holloway Prison, north London.
This episode has given Helen Duncan a certain notoriety as being a genuine psychic in Spiritualist circles, but it should also be pointed out that it seems likely that she was plenty fraudulent as well – Michael Prescott recently posted a comprehensive blog entry, with links to photos. That’s not to say that Duncan didn’t have any psychic talent…many spiritualist stars seemed to mix fraudulent tricks with apparently genuine abilities. But worth keeping in mind both sides of the story.