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Thursday, 4 July 2013

Here we go again... this time the Lancashire Evening Post!

So another day another sh*tty attempt at journalism! This time from the morons at Lancashire Evening Post.

The article is reporting incidents of horse attacks in Lancashire, and despite a total lack of evidence points the finger at the "Pagan or satanic" community. That's right, they've done such a piss-poor job of researching this they actually think Paganism and Satanism are the same thing... and no they aren't talking about LaVey Satanism, the article makes it quite clear they are talking about "devil worshippers".

The article goes on to say:

“'Apparently across the UK attacks on horses go up around this time of year to coincide with the solstice,' said a Lancashire police spokesman."

"Apparently" what the hell do they mean "apparently". They're a police spokesman, they should have facts in front of them before making a statement like this. Did it not also occur to them that late May/early June is also the start of Horse Fair season... is that not perhaps a less tenuous link as, well, it's actually has something to do with horses.

“The owner of the first horse thought at first they were wounds from barbed wire,” said PC Dave Kerfoot, the community beat manager for Garstang. “But the cuts were very clean and have clearly been done with a sharp blade like a Stanley knife or a razor.

Then we were called in when four horses in a field not too far away were also discovered with cuts. They were all on the left back leg around the buttock area, so it was obviously a deliberate attack."
Are you sure about that, as last time the police made a statement like this it prompted Ted Barnes, a field officer with the International League for the Protection of Horses to make a counter statement saying:
"'In by far the largest percentage of cases where the animal has been harmed, it is either self-inflicted or inflicted by another horse. A lot of people find this hard to believe, but it does happen,' Barnes said.
In the majority of cases where a horse has been attacked by a human, a personal feud is the motive."

The article goes on:

“We have been researching the subject of Pagan or satanic attacks on horses and there have been quite a few across the country over the last few years linked to the summer solstice.
Apparently it’s something to do with collecting blood. It’s weird. But it is also very upsetting. We would like to apprehend whoever is doing this before they can do any more damage."
Seriously!? Where on earth have you been doing your research, Buffy, Charmed... a little Tales Of Unexpected? It certainly wasn't from any academic source or the Pagan Federation who's many members and representatives are very  justifiably up in arms over this article.

"“There was a spate of attacks on horses in Lancashire in 2008 and we arrested someone in Blackpool but that was slightly different.”

Would these be the ones killed in the arson attack, or the dogs? I assume by "slightly different" you were inferring that they had been proved to have sod all to do with Paganism, where as because these ones are unsolved you can continue to use them to further your prejudices.
I have asked a few different people, including the newspaper themselves, what they think of this blatant negative religious profiling of what is now the 7th biggest faith group in the UK and will update this article as and when I receive them.


I have now received a very prompt reply from Mike Hill, Associate Editor of Lancashire Evening Post. He is very concerned at the level of outrage this article has prompted.  He does, quite rightly, point out that the parts of the article that cause the most offence are direct quotes from Lancashire Police, who have made their view on this matter very clear on their facebook page as well as in the press. Going forward they have invited me to help ensure a balanced view of this is put forward from them, I will of course be doing this.

---------------UPDATE 2--------------

I was sent the following statement from Mike Stygal, President of The Pagan Federation England & Wales:

"These terrible attacks upon horses are not a feature of any recognised Pagan path. Pagan paths find the sacred in nature and harming nature is, consequently incompatible with Pagan paths. Spending any extended period of time investigating Pagan links to these crimes is extremely likely to be a waste of police time and funds. Satanism is not a form of Paganism. Unfortunately, when horrible crimes of this nature occur, people often recall fictional accounts of evil doers who are sometimes portrayed as Pagans by fiction authors and film directors."

I have forwarded this to the Lancashire Evening Post and received a reply saying they will edit their online article to include this statement by this evening.

----------UPDATE 3-------------------

I have now also been sent the below statement from the Pagan Police Association, this has also been forwarded on the the Lancashire Evening Post.

"Official PPA response to Lancashire Evening Post article ‘Horses slashed with blades in suspected satanic attacks’ published 29/06/13.
On 29th June 2013 the Police Pagan Association received an official complaint from a member of the Lancashire Pagan community regarding an article featured in the Lancashire Evening Press relating to the injuring of horses in the Garstang area.
The cause for the complaint were the comments attributed to PC Kerfoot and the confusion of Paganism with Satanism; we have since received three further complaints, two of which are from Pagan members of Lancashire Constabulary.
This complaint is being treated with the utmost seriousness and is being treated as a formal complaint for the purposes of Home Office and ACPO recording. The Police Pagan Association has a duty to fully investigate the complaint, but also to resolve any issues around misunderstanding and training within the police service.
The Police Pagan Association is currently working with senior officers within Lancashire Constabulary, including PC Kerfoot’s senior line manager, to address the issue and ensure that incidents of this type do not recur.
I feel that it is important to note that although the comments attributed to PC Kerfoot have caused concern, the published article itself is sensationalist and uneducated, and merely perpetuates the stigmatisation of the Pagan community.
The Police Pagan Association has maintained a good working relationship with Lancashire Constabulary since 2009, and I am assured that, with our involvement, the complaints that have been put forward will be dealt with thoroughly, fairly and openly.
I know from experience that the views attributed to PC Kerfoot are not those of Lancashire Constabulary as a whole, and the Police Pagan Association is involved in their investigation into the complaint, which Lancashire Constabulary has now referred to its professional standards department.
Whilst I can assure the Pagan Community that we are working to resolve this issue to the satisfaction of all, I also feel it necessary to encourage those who are affected by the article to practice restraint, and to ensure that any correspondence and dialogue remains constructive and amenable.
The Police Pagan Association remains committed to supporting Pagan officers and staff and, by working together, improve the relationship between the Pagan community and the police service.
PC Andrew Pardy
Founding Chair, Police Pagan Association"



  2. This is a good example of partnership working; the PF dealing with the press and the PPA dealing with the training and education of the police force concerned. It is good to see that we have such competent organisations representing our views without resorting to tit-for-tat or sensationalism. A nice, balanced challenge to an officer who clearly didn't know any better and a small time reporter producing a rather uneducated article. It is reassuring to see that many of the comments on their website recognise the farcical nature of the content.