Campaign to pardon the last witch, jailed in '44 as a threat to Britain at war





Mary Martin was 11 years old when her father taught her to box. She would come home from school scratched and bruised, her ears ringing with abuse from the playground. Mary Martin had the unhappy distinction of being the granddaughter of Britain's last convicted witch.

Mrs Martin knew her grandmother, Helen Duncan, as a comforting woman she could trust, the granny with a special gift: talking to spirits. But this was April 1944, at the height of the war with Germany. Mrs Duncan had just been branded by an Old Bailey jury as a witch and spy guilty of revealing wartime secrets.

Some 50 years after Mrs Duncan's death, a fresh campaign has been launched to clear her name, with a petition calling on the home secretary, John Reid, to grant a posthumous pardon. Her conviction, said Mrs Martin, was simply "ludicrous".


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