Last week I detailed the incredible story of David Farrant, a man who, back in the 1970s, was vilified in the press and jailed for allegedly desecrating corpses at Highgate Cemetery in London. The case made headlines across the world.
There are those who have radically different perceptions of the Highgate Vampire affair, and, of course, they are entitled to their opinions just as David is. I can only “speak as I find”, as they say, and judge the man by the way he presented himself to me when I interviewed him. I found him kindly, unassuming and sincere. Whilst putting the finishing touches to my forthcoming autobiography, in which I mention the Highgate Vampire affair, I decided to contact David and ask him for his opinion on what had really transpired. He had this to say:
“There was definitely a ‘ghost’ or some unexplained phenomenon seen at Highgate Cemetery in the late 1960’s through to the early 1970’s, which was reported independently by many local people. It was described as a tall, dark figure; sometimes as having ‘hypnotic red eyes’, which usually just vanished after having been encountered.
“I saw this entity myself one night in late December, 1969, as I was passing the top gate of Highgate Cemetery. I’d gone there hoping to find some explanation for the appearances of this spectre. It promptly vanished just after I had spotted it, and hence no logical explanation was forthcoming”.
I also asked David if he recalled our first meeting in Devon over a decade ago. He did:
“I met Mike Hallowell in August 2000, at the first ever public meeting of the Centre for Fortean Zoology called The Weird Weekend. He introduced himself to me after I had just given a filmed talk on the Highgate Vampire. I believe some of the facts of the Highgate case were not as sensational or far-fetched as he’d been led to believe by reports in some newspapers.
“I did get a bit of a shock when he told me of his time with the Police, because in 1974 one of the charges against me at the Old Bailey (and for which I received two years imprisonment) had been threatening two police detectives with ‘voodoo dolls’! But he did not seem to mind too much; maybe because I had explained all the circumstances surrounding this case in my talk”.
Which was entirely true, of course. The plain truth is that David’s account of the Highgate Vampire affair was the only one I’d heard that really made any sense.
There is no doubt that some would find Farrant’s spiritual and occult practices deeply disturbing, but nothing can justify the telling of lies, the making of false accusations and the distortion of facts simply because one cleaves to a different religious path.
Despite the fact that David Farrant is generally seen as being at the epicentre of the “Highgate Vampire” affair, he has consistently denied that anything so frivolous as the Highgate “vampire” ever existed. Indeed, he wants to clarify, “much of the nonsense circulating about there being a ‘blood-sucking vampire’ at Highgate Cemetery, and by spelling out the facts I simply want people to judge for themselves’.
David gives a detailed account of his trial and subsequent incarceration in the latest volume of his autobiography, David Farrant: Out of the Shadows (The British Psychic & Occult Society, 2011). It is easy to jump on a media bandwagon and engage in puerile vilification of David Farrant simply because of his unorthodox lifestyle or unconventional beliefs. It is harder to be objective and give the man credit where its due.
Personally, I think the man is long overdue an apology, but I doubt it’ll becoming any time soon. END
(c) Mike Hallowell 2012
The above article first appeared in Mike’s ‘Wraithscape’ column in “The South Shields Gazette” – 2nd February 2012