Comedian and magician Paul Zenon is at the centre of a lawsuit after writing a newspaper article explaining how so-called ‘psychics’ can fool their audience.
Stage medium Sally Morgan is suing the Daily Mail over an story Zenon wrote in September headlined: ‘What a load of crystal balls’.
The piece appeared after an audience member at one of Ms Morgan’s shows claimed he could hear a man’s voice relaying information about audience members, which could have proved useful to her.
The story was widely reported in the at the time but Associated Newspapers, which publishes the Mail, is the only company named on the writ.
Zenon’s original article - which is still online – said: ‘So was Ms Morgan getting a little help from the real world rather than the spirit world? While she insists absolutely not... having studied stage psychics for years and been one myself in my 20s, I am sceptical.’
He then went on to detail some of the tricks of the trade – such as mining box office information to find background on audience members and cold-reading techniques to pick up on responses to general questions.
Zenon concluded: ‘So if, Heaven forbid, performers like Ms Morgan aren’t actually talking to the dead... then I think the public has a right to know.’
Morgan claims the story caused substantial damage to her reputation, as well as hurt, distress and embarrassment and is seeking an injunction banning repetition of the allegations.
According to the UK Press Gazette, she is also seeking aggravated damages,saying the allegations were serious and offensive, effectively accusing her of perpetrating a deliberate fraud on the public.
Morgan – author of Life After Death: Messages of Love from the Other Side and operator of a £1.53-a-minute phone line – also complained in the writ about another article the Mail published on the same day headlined: ‘Only the lonely believe in ghoulish psychics.’