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Halloween pardon sought for accused witches, sorta

PR-hungry costumiers jump on broomstick bandwagon

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Campaigners are submitting a petition to the government today in the hope that hundreds of people executed as witches will be posthumously exonerated.

The Times earnestly reports that the family behind a well-known costume hire company in the UK decided to try and achieve justice for the dead, in an altruistic and noble move unsullied by any sort of media agenda. Because that would be a bit tacky, wouldn't it?

Historian and witch expert Dr John Callow obligingly collected some ghastly tales of miscarriages of justice which occurred before the 1735 Witchcraft Act put a stop to the executions of accused witches. 2,000 people were executed in Scotland and 400 in England after being accused of unholy tampering with crops and cattle. The petition mentions the likes of East Lothian midwife Agnes Sampson, burned at the stake in 1591 after an unexplained shipwreck brought suspicion of Satanic malfeasance upon her.

Other cases mentioned are equally horrific in their senselessness, although all the gruesome tales pale somewhat beside what whiffs of a magnificently cynical attempt to gain publicity for a load of tatty fancy-dress clobber that smell of old socks on the back of the tragic deaths of hundreds of innocent people. Although we may just have burned our Halloween toffee.

In other news, residents of West London are reporting an unusually large bonfire under construction in the car park of Broadcasting House. "There appear to be two chairs on top of it," noted one observer, "but I can't think why they'd do that." ®

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