Top UK Psychic Recants

Roy Stemman’s Paranormal Review has a report on British ex-psychic and ex-medium James Byrne:

James Byrne’s style of mediumship ensured “sold out” notices outside all the large venues at which he regularly demonstrated for almost 30 years. He even filled the London Palladium – following in the psychic footsteps of the late Doris Stokes…Incredibly, Byrne has not only turned his back on Spiritualism, claiming that he has been deluding himself and others, but intends exposing other psychics and their “tricks”.

A few weeks ago, Byrne was due to speak at London’s “Skeptics in the Pub“. A JREF discussion forum thread has preserved the details:

James Byrne (ex-Psychic) presents ‘Why I’m so against Psychics’

“I became a spiritualist back in the late 1970s through a chance meeting with a lady medium. She told me some details that, at that time, I thought were amazing. Now I could explain them away easily.

I pursued a career as a medium. The highlights of that career were my own show at the London Palladium and the publication in 1993 of my book “The Psychic World of James Byrne”, which sold well in the UK and New Zealand. I’ve hosted my own psychic phone in shows for two radio stations.

I now know for years I was deluding myself. I now work as a freelance writer and I am the UK’s number one critic of all psychics.

My talk is based on the fact that so many charlatans exist and the psychic industry has become a multi million pound industry and it is based on a complete sham which is not regulated.

I will explain how I, having worked as a psychic for thirty years at the highest level, now believe it is not only morally wrong but what psychics do you can train anyone to do in a matter of days and earn at least £400 per week with ease.

I will explain the tricks that most psychics successfully use. I will go into TV studios and speak against the subject in the future. I will also speak about what happened to make me realise I was deluding myself.”

However, Byrne cried off at the last minute – and is now maintaining that his rejection of mediumship was actually due to an encounter with a “bad spirit” rather than a turn towards rationalism. Back to Stemman (link added):

…it was a voice on a tape recording made during one of his readings for a regular sitter which apparently prompted the astonishing about-face. He told his local newspaper, The Chorley Citizen (Lancashire), that when the woman played the tape back they were both stunned to hear what came out:

“There was this most disgusting, foul-mouthed abusive voice on the tape. It sounded like, if you have a record slightly slowed down. It was such a horrendous voice, it was threatening and I just thought this was enough and I have never ever done a reading since. My personal belief is that it was a bad spirit.”

Byrne’s website is here, although sadly there’s no mention of the demonic tape there, or any other hint about Byrne’s former career. Instead, Byrne is now highlighting his supposed abilities as a Christian faith-healer:

James Byrne started his Ministry of Healing during the late 1970’s.

Due to word of mouth, people began to come from every corner of the UK, many reported that they had been healed, some reported considerable improvement in their physical conditions and others reported no healing at all.

The Ministry of Healing attributes all healing to God.

Byrne also names Canon Roy Lawrence as his inspiration.

However, Stemmen thinks that Byrne still needs to come clean about some of his past activities, and he has a couple of questions for him:

1. Thousands of recipients of your spirit messages over the years will want to know if they were real or faked. What is your answer?

2. In November 1995 at a public meeting you confirmed that you intended using your mediumistic powers to try to locate the body of Keith Bennett, one of the victims of Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. Keith was 12 years old when they killed and buried him on Saddleworth Moor and his body has never been found. His grieving mother was in the audience when you made your offer and she said she was pinning her hopes on your psychic help. Did you genuinely believe you could help her or was it just a publicity stunt?

Interestingly, Byrne was targeted by the church back in 1997:

Councillors at Hyndburn leisure services committee meeting last night rejected a plea to stop performances by Mr Byrne and other psychics in council halls.

The clergymen included the Rev Richard Priestley, of the Oswaldtwistle Christian Institute, the Rev Michael Ratcliffe of St Paul’s, Oswaldtwistle, and the Rev Kevin Logan of Christ Church, Accrington.

…They said shows such as his were spiritually and emotionally damaging to vulnerable people, and said they had had to counsel people who had been to mediums.

UPDATE: Top UK Psychic Recants Recantation. See here.