On this lazy Sunday, we’d thought we’d share an online defamation lawsuit gem from the “rile James Randi” file.
A psychic named Sally Morgan – whom, according to her lawyer, “performed in over 600 shows in more than 100 different theatres or venues to audiences stretching into the hundreds of thousands” – successfully sued publishers of the Daily Mail for defamation. They said she duped an audience into believing she had supernatural powers; she insisted her skills are legit and decided to sue for libel.
How Sally Morgan’s Psychic Defamation Case Began
Do you remember that Steve Martin movie, Leap of Faith, where he plays a healer? In the flick, he has a team of “spotters” who gather information about the hopeful masses at his revival-type gatherings. When the show starts, the helpers feed Martin all the information they gathered via a barely visible ear piece.
Well, the above scenario is what a pair of audience members describe as happening at popular clairvoyant Sally Morgan’s show in Dublin. Presumably in an attempt to discredit Morgan, they shared the sorted story on a radio program.
Having caught wind of the potential fake out in Dublin, Paul Zenon, a magician, included the pair’s anecdote in an article, which lambasted psychics, that he wrote for the Daily Mail. According to Morgan’s lawsuit, Zenon committed the ultimate civil wrong by calling psychics “charlatans” and accusing “Mrs. Morgan specifically of having used a hidden earpiece during her performance in order to receive instructions from her team which she then repeated on stage as if she had received them from the spirit world.”
Needless to say, Morgan was not impressed with Zenon’s piece. (Hey, if someone was trying to disparage your superpowers, you’d be ticked off, too.) After Morgan and the venue denied the accusations, and the Daily Mail refused to publish a retraction, the psychic hired Graham Atkins to litigate on her behalf, and then promptly filed a defamation lawsuit.
Morgan’s Powers Must Have Worked This Time – Because She Won! (Cue the James Randi Scream)
Either Mr. Atkins is a great lawyer, knows how to use “The Force,” or both. Because after what must have been some convincing litigating, abracadabra, Associated Newspapers was agreeing to pay ole’ Sally “substantial damages” for insinuating her psychic revivals were a scam. The Daily Mail even printed a robust apology:
“The Daily Mail withdraws the suggestion that Mrs. Morgan used a secret earpiece at her Dublin show in September 2011 to receive messages from off-stage, thereby cheating her audience, which it accepts is untrue.”
[Quizzical] Point ghost whisperers? (Regardless, we’re pretty sure there is at least one person considering using this case to support their own psychic defamation legal woes, Presley (a.k.a. Angel) – the 46-year-old Texas grannie whose visions resulted with a swat team swarming her neighbor’s farmhouse.)