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Home > Horror News > Western Horror News > Top Medium Quits Saying, ‘I was deluded’
Top Medium Quits Saying, ‘I was deluded’
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ENGLAND. 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. He made TV appearances, was a regular on radio phone-in shows, and wrote a book with John Sutton about his life and work: The Psychic World of James Byrne.

He has shared the platform in Spiritualist churches and public halls with other mediums and has even been dubbed “the medium’s medium”.

But those days are over. 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”.

Does that mean that he no longer believes in the existence of spirits?

Not exactly. In fact, 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.”

What Byrne has described is typical of electronic voice phenomena (EVP) and many researchers around the world have been experimenting for years with different types of receiving equipment in an attempt to record such voices. Some claim to be able to produce them consistently (see our story What happened to EVP challenge?). Yet the Lancashire medium, who was sometimes called in to deal with hauntings and poltergeists, has apparently “flipped” after hearing just one recording.

Byrne, 52, a former British Rail driver, says he had been contemplating Christianity for several years after having doubts that Spiritualism was for him. He has now established the Kings Christian Healing Church operating out of Wheelton Village Hall.

His website’s invitation to its Sunday services says: “Come and join us in glorious worship and discover what God can do for you.” It also says that he was inspired to pray for the sick back in the 1970s and found that “some people were receiving healing from the Lord very quickly”. He adds:

“These wonderful events gave me a deep desire to go on praying for people but most of all made me feel much closer to the Lord Jesus Christ, the giver of all blessings, and the Ministry grew from that point.”

Ironically, Byrne made headlines in 1997 when a group of clergymen tried unsuccessfully to get a local council to ban his demonstration of mediumship at Oswaldtwistle Civic Theatre.

As part of his change of heart, James Byrne is apparently now eager to dismiss Spiritualism and psychics – apparently not differentiating between psychics (those who read auras, tarot cards, etc) and mediums (those who contact the spirit world).

He was scheduled to speak to a group of UK sceptics in London in September, at the monthly meeting of “Sceptics in the Pub” at their regular “haunt”: The Old Kings Head at London Bridge, having contacted them many weeks in advance to offer his services. The title of his talk was to be: “Why I’m So Against Psychics”.

But Nick Pullar, the group’s organiser, tells me that the former medium failed to materialise for the meeting, having phoned beforehand to say he could not make it. The pre-lecture publicity provided by Byrne, however, leaves us in no doubt about his sentiments and intentions:

“I became a Spiritualist back in the late 1970s through a chance meeting with a lady medium. She told me some details that, at the time, 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 …. 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 30 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.”

When I spoke with Byrne on the morning of Friday, 13 October, he confirmed that he had given up Spiritualism. He said he had someone with him and would call me back at 2pm. I’m still waiting … and several calls to his number have so far gone unanswered. I will update this story the moment I get a response from him.

This “conversion” has surprised many Spiritualists, particularly John Sutton, co-author of The Psychic World of James Byrne. Sutton, who contributes a monthly column to the Spiritualist newspaper Psychic World, was once Byrne’s manager, arranging public meetings and media interviews. He says that Byrne had to pay him substantial damages some years ago for breaking his contract and moving to another agent.

“He’s an excellent medium, incredibly gifted,” Sutton told me. “He’s given the best evidence of any medium I’ve seen, except Gordon Higginson. But he’s also a human being who is untrustworthy and told lies – some of which involved my wife, who was acting as a secretary for him – to justify his failure to keep bookings or appointments.

“When we went to do the James Whale Show at the BBC, around 1993,” Sutton continued, “we were told on arrival that nothing was working: the cameras, and other equipment were just not functioning. But James said it would all start working shortly … and it did.

“On the way back in my car with James as a passenger, we had the radio on. It suddenly stopped and an extremely loud voice came out of the speakers, saying: ‘James Byrne!’ Quite amazing. So he was causing psychic phenomena around him, and was at times attracting direct voice, which I heard.

“On another occasion we were recording with the BBC, doing a supposedly haunted house for Halloween. And it was haunted, you could sense it the moment we walked in. The BBC brought all their recording equipment in and James said, ‘There’s no way your equipment will work, because there’s a man who lived here, he had one leg and was particularly wicked, and he’s going to stop you.’

“The sound engineers were amused by this, explaining that this is what they did for a living and of course the equipment would work. Anyway, they did the live broadcast and recorded it in the house – the amp meters showed it was being recorded – yet when they came to play it back at the end, every single tape was blank. Not a thing on it.

“So when he talks about spirits interfering with a tape recorder and causing him to stop his mediumship, that’s utter nonsense. It’s been happening to him throughout his career.”

If and when I manage to speak to James Byrne there are a couple of questions I’d like to put to him and, as a good born-again Christian, I’m sure he’ll be eager to answer them:

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?

James Byrne’s astonishing change of direction is likely to cause an uproar in the Spiritualist movement.

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