Witchcraft ‘expert’ sues her critics
Nigerian evangelical preacher and ‘witch hunter’ Helen Ukpabio is demanding half a billion pounds in damages.
The dangerous charlatan is suing the British Humanist Association and the Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network, alleging that both organisations had “misrepresented” her teachings.
According to the BHA, the “Lady Apostle”, as she is known, claims to have expertise in identifying children and adults who are “possessed by witchcraft spirits” from which they can be “delivered”.
Her lawyers have informed the BHA and WHRIN that she is launching a legal case against them due to their criticism of her teachings and methods.
Claiming to be a former witch herself, the founder of the Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries has been accused of exploiting superstitious beliefs centred on “possession”. This can and often does result in putting vulnerable children at risk.
The BHA has called for Ukpabio and others like her to be banned from coming to the UK on the grounds that they are a threat to child welfare and their practices are not conducive to the public good.
Her legal case is based on a claim that the BHA had “misrepresented” her writings on childhood “possession”. She has claimed that a child “under the age of two” who is “possessed with black, red and vampire witchcraft spirits” can be identified by behaviour such as screaming at night, “cries, is always feverish, suddenly deteriorates in health, puts up an attitude of fear, and may not feed very well”.
She also teaches that children who stamp their feet may be:
Trying to make signs … to communicate with gnomes, the witchcraft spirit in charge of the earth.
Ukpabio claims that the BHA misrepresented her by saying that she ascribed these symptoms to Satanic possession and hence has damaged her reputation and livelihood to the tune of £500,000,000.
Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association, commented:
Given her baseless identification of features of ‘possessed children’ and her dangerous and irresponsible teachings we feel a strong moral duty to point this out and will not be deflected by libel suits from wealthy ‘witch-finders’.
The fact that she is threatening to launch a legal claim for half a billion pounds over an alleged distinction between being accused of exorcising “Satan” or “Vampires” tells you all you need to know about Mrs Ukpabio. Threats of legal action like this are blatant attempts to silence critics of the harms done by these religious and superstitious beliefs and rituals.
Rather than entertaining her vexatious claims in the courts, we believe the UK should be ensuring that Mrs Ukpabio and her ilk are denied entry to our country to protect children from their degrading practices.
Gary Foxcroft, Executive Director of WHRIN, commented:
This court case is the latest in a long line of unsuccessful legal actions that Helen Ukpabio has pursued against me and other human rights activists. Previous cases were thrown out of court in Nigeria but this time she is looking to take action in a UK court. I have no doubt that a judge in the UK will reach the same conclusion as those in Nigeria.
Of course, the real question here is whether our Government should allow hate preachers such as Helen Ukpabio to enter the UK. Since her teachings have been linked to widespread child abuse in reports by the UN and various other bodies it would appear that this may not be in the public interest. This case also therefore provides the Home Secretary and the National Working Group to Tackle Child Abuse linked to Faith and Belief with a great opportunity to condemn the practices of such pastors, take concrete action and ensure that justice is served.
The eminent media lawyer Mark Stephens CBE of Howard Kennedy FSI, representing the defendants, said:
We thought witch-finding had been left behind in all civilised societies since the death of the last Witch-finder general, Matthew Hopkins in 1644. Hopkins had pursued innocent people – often elderly women living alone – and persecuted and executed them on the basis of a primitive and superstitious belief that they were witches. The horrific consequences of such beliefs are demonstrated in Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible.
Whilst the medieval methods of Matthew Hopkins are no longer used to ‘identify witches, of course, we must remain ever vigilant of the danger of persecution of innocent children – babies, even – being branded as witches by latter-day self-styled witch-finders with perverse and pernicious views.
These people must not be allowed to identify the vulnerable as witches. Freedom of speech is at its most precious when it permits voices to be raised against such evil. British libel laws must never be abused to censor matters of such public importance.
Hat tip: Adam Tjaavk and Ivan Bailey