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EU Bashes Mediums: Repeal of the Fraudulent Mediums Act (1951)

PSI’s Dave Wood takes a look at what the repeal of the Fraudulent Mediums Act (1951) is going to mean for psychic practitioners.    

The much-circulated online petition to the Prime Minister’s office to revise the Act (to make prosecution of fraudulent mediums easier) turned out to be a waste as the wheels to repeal the Act had already begun in October 2001.    

The EU Directive on ‘Unfair Commercial Practices’ will come into force in April 2008; one purpose the petition had was to allow the Government to highlight that this directive will apply to mediumship and will lead to the FMA being defunct.    

But what does all this mean? The FMA (1951) was brought in to replace the Witchcraft Act (1735) and basically stated a medium could be fined an imprisoned for charges for such services. In reality a prosecution could only be successful if it were proven that the medium was deliberately trying to deceive. The Act also stated that a prosecution could not be brought if the service were billed as being ‘for entertainment only’. Similarly a medium could not be prosecuted if they were not charging for the service, even if this meant levying a charge for ‘room hire’ rather than the sitting itself. In practice the law was hard to enforce, leading to just a handful of prosecutions (all successful) over the course of 56 years.    

A non-legal reading of this law could suppose one to believe that the Government did not legislate that mediumship itself was fraudulent; merely that mediums who could be proven to be out to deceive were fraudulent. This is a fairly crucial distinction. In effect your average medium who does not intend to deceive and who runs commercial sessions was not considered to be a fraud. The new directive, again from a non-legal reading, seems to imply that all mediumship is fraudulent and that charging for mediumship can be both a criminal or civil offence.    

What this means in reality, after April, is yet to be seen. My suspicion is that nothing will change. A medium would have to be fairly unlucky for a client to bring a prosecution and it’s highly unlikely that most hiring venues would even know of the law. One difference might be stage mediumship, where litigation cautious theatre companies might cotton on more quickly.    

But for general practice of mediumship the law will probably be defined and publicised by case law. Again it is unlikely an average client will bring this, it will probably be left to one of the more famous campaigning sceptics to push a case, no doubt a fairly affluent one! Watch this space.