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Complainant Name:
Ms Marget Inglis

Clauses Noted: 1, 12

Publication: News of the World


Ms Marget Inglis, a witch, complained that an article in the News of the World on 27 October 1996 headlined "Satan Gran's Coven is a Cauldron of Sin" contained inaccuracies in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code of Practice. She also complained that the article failed to distinguish between comment, conjecture and fact, in breach of Clause 3 (Comment, conjecture and fact), and contained material prejudiced against her religion in breach of Clause 15 (Discrimination).

The article was written by an investigative journalist who, along with a colleague, had posed as would-be witches in order to gain access to the coven run by the complainant. The article said that the reporter had found the witches to indulge in orgies, black magic and unusual ceremonies. The witches were also labelled "devil-worshippers" who took part in "vile rituals". The complainant denied such allegations. She said she did not practise black magic and that "Princes of Darkness" and "Gods of the Underworld" were benevolent. She said that the details of the meetings were incorrect and that the examples of lewd behaviour highlighted were in fact attributable to a woman introduced to the coven by the journalists.

The newspaper responded with the accounts of the two journalists, one of whom said he had been present during black magic rites at the complainant's home and elsewhere with members of her coven. The description of the witches as "devil worshippers" was appropriate because "a witch is a person believed to communicate with the devil". There were several meetings referred to in the article: the complainant had not been present at all of them, and this was made clear in the article, but the journalist said he had seen and heard evidence of public nudity and sexual activity and said members of the coven had implied that orgies took place during rites.

Not Upheld


The Commission did not find there was sufficient confusion between witchcraft and devil-worship to raise a breach of the Code - particularly as the two are often synonymous in the view of the public. Whilst noting the complainant's denials that orgies had taken place, the Commission considered this would be seen as the journalist's own interpretation of the nudity, innuendo and apparent sexual contact between coven members which he had either witnessed or been informed of. The Commission noted the difference of opinion over whether black magic had taken place, but considered that the newspaper had shown that what might have been taken for magic rites took place.

The complaint was rejected.


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