Saturday, 27 February 2010

*Stephen Holbrook - clairvoyant, or not?

Stephen Holbrook describes himself as a "clairvoyant".

UPDATE, 19 Mar: ASA reply "Thank you for contacting the Advertising Standards Authority. We have viewed the advertisement you refer to and considered the issue you raise in terms of the CAP (Non-broadcast) Advertising Code but there do not appear to be grounds for formal investigation on this occasion.

We note that the ad does not include any specific claims of success or guarantees of the service which might constitute a breach of the Code. The ad is stating what the advertiser is offering, and there do not appear to be claims, or guarantees of success, which we would expect the advertiser to be able to substantiate. Whilst we appreciate that the show being advertised will not appeal to all who see it, we do not consider that further action on the points you raise would be justified on this occasion, or that the specific content of the ad is likely to detrimentally mislead those who see it." (Letter)

If you're quick, you can buy a ticket to see Stephen at the Tilsworth Golf Centre in Leighton Buzzard. (You can see an advert for it here.)

I won't be there, but I would still like to know if he can provide documentary evidence of his claim.
The usual ASA complaint follows.

"I write to complain about an advert published in the Luton Herald and Post on Thursday, February 25th, 2010.

The advert, for Premier Newspapers Evening Events, is entitled "An Evening of Clairvoyance with Stephen Holbrook".

I have submitted a scan of the advert. I can provide an original copy of the advert by post, if required.

I suspect that the advert is in breach of one section of the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP) code.

1. The Herald and Post is a free newspaper distributed weekly in Luton, in South Bedfordshire.

2. The Thursday, February 25th, 2010 issue (page 58) carried an advert entitled "An Evening of Clairvoyance with Stephen Holbrook". The advert promoted two events, one in Leighton Buzzard (Bedfordshire), the other in Aylesbury (Buckinhamshire).

3. The CAP Code, Section 3.1, states "Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove all claims, whether direct or implied, that are capable of objective substantiation."

4. Given that the advert makes no mention of "magic", "illusions" or "for entertainment", I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence for the claim that Stephen Holbrook is a clairvoyant.

5. Given that the advert makes no mention of "magic", "illusions" or "for entertainment", I challenge whether the advertiser holds documentary evidence for the claim that Sandy Ingham is a medium, or the she has psychic abilities.

6. I confirm that I have no connections with the advertiser, the Herald and Post, or with the publishing industry in general. I confirm that I am not involved in legal proceedings with the advertiser or the Herald and Post.

7. I confirm that I am happy to be identified as the complainant."


  1. Well done! I have challenged Holbrook personally to a controlled test of his abilities,he has yet to accept! Only been 5 years.
    I wonder could file a complaint after one of his shows somehow?

  2. I have been to see Stephen Holbrook twice. On the second occassion he gave me intimate details that only I knew about my mother's death two years prior. I was totally convinced and normally are sceptical.

  3. I have been to his show recently actually despite the fact that he prob talked for twenty mins about himself and previous experiences he had had with other shows. I found it slightly annoying as it ate into the time you paid hoping he would eventually pass by you and give you some information. But saying this, I might be slightly disapointed that I never had a reading or came close to it in his last show. Or he could just be trying to give people an idea of what to expect! I was open minded at his show but found somethings were spot on with people as they seemed very shocked or as with many things he said could have been generic. I sat and listened and thought that could what was said apply to me or many other people but I suppose grief I.E shock,anger and desperation makes everyone feel almost the same. I am neither for or against him I prefer to sit onthe fence and think until he perhaps gave/gives me a reading il never know how true he is. I would know if it was my relative, I think and wouldnt be afraid to say no. But whatever it was it was good entertainment an yes if it isnt real people sign up for it go to his shows and make a judgement based on what they experience. know ones forcing them to go, and if he makes up messages from the great beyond and causes someone's happiness then perhaps its worth it. I went for hope that my parents were ok and came back with neither hope or understanding, yes was disapointed that I didnt experience anything personally but If I thought about it I think the entertainment value was worth it.

  4. I recently went to see Stephen with my husband and daughter, having very recently lost both my parents. All 3 of us sitting back listening to a contact Stephen appeared to have made with first my father, , yes he first said that someone had celebrated a birthday and of course that could have extended to a vast majority of people, and that dad wanted to tell my daughter that he loved her and was sorry for the things he had said - all generic but then came to me and said I had lost my mum - I was very careful and said yes he said to me you havent even had the funeral yet - I said no not yet she died last week and the funeral is next week, he then asked me who is Anne - I said thats my mum - this has happened again on monday night at my local spiritual church but they didnt get mums name - could be guesswork but I wouldnt mind the lottery numbers of them if it was - I feel at peace with the full message that Stephen and a minister at the church gave me. I paid my money to see Stephen and it was free at the church - well a £1 donation - make your own assumptions on what happened to me - thats whats called free will - peace and light xxx

  5. Regarding the ASA how can Metodist churches and the like get away with

    JESUS LIVES posters?

    Perhaps someone by the name of 'Jesus' does live and he's the local pub landlord?

  6. Hi Anonymous,

    The golden rule for advertising regulation is whether the advert is misleading, or not.

    I think the regulators, sensibly, would take the view that no-one would be materially misled by a statement like "Jesus Saves" - we already know that Christians profess faith, which is not the same as a fact.

    A statement like "Jesus cures cancer!" or one along the lines of "Darn, you atheists are stoopid!" - well, that would be a different matter.

    Unsubstantiated health claims aren't allowed (even if Jesus is the physician performing them) and neither are statements whose principle purpose is to offend.

  7. Hi,
    I too wrote to the ASA questioning the fact that Steve Holbrooks poster made no reference to the fact that his show was for entertainment only and that he made supernatural(and so unsubstantiated) claims of spiritualism. The ASA reply was pretty much as yours. Unfortunately, as we all know, there are millions of gullible income providers for these charlatans. Keep up the good work though

  8. he says in the group demonstration its for entertainment purposes only- they have to for trading standards. i though he was fantastic, theres no way he could have known the things he had said to me, and unless you have had a reading from him, you cant comment as its not fair on him. i will say he told me my grandmas birthday was 5th oct then he changed it to the 4th, (it is the 4th) and as he changed it he said, your great grandad says sorry, he always did get the date wrong. so i went and told my grandma what he said practically word for word and the shock on her face was amazing, she said yes he always got my birth date wrong! THAT was just a little snippet of what he said to me. i whole-heartedly believe he is a clairvoyant. if you dont believe it then its up to you but dont drag his name through the mud. i dont see you saying christians, catholics, muslims etc are liars and shouldnt promote their religion because they cant prove their god exsisted. as far as im aware its just based on a book full of chinese whispers and rumours... each to their own and all that, eh.

  9. Hi fiona,

    Actually, I have seen Holbrook in action. Everything he does in his show can easily be replicated with standard magician's tricks; in this internet age it's easy to find out how they're done.

    By the way, if you want to read what I've written about Christians and Muslims, you might start here!

  10. Having been to many events for Steven I find it a little amusing that people would go to this much trouble, if you don't agree or believe don't go to see him but who are you to pass judgement on people who do pay for a ticket as if they are too simple to make that decision for themselves or are vulnerable idiots that are being preyed on!
    My friend lost her young daughter and has had two messages from Steven's events with specific details of what she did when saying goodbye when it was just her in the room and not wooly rubbish actual specific details, she gained tremendous comfort from this, he even knew i had been willing her to come through the second time and what i had said to her alone in my house word for word. I would consider myself an on the fence person with an open mind, but if you do not believe and think its all rubbish........don't buy a ticket for an event and get on with your own life .....

  11. His ads now have "for entertainment purposes only" I'm looking at The Manchester Evening News as i type. I have no opinion on whether it is true or tripe.

  12. Sceptical letter writer guessing you don't get laid either.........

  13. steve was brilliant he got everything spot on, I have been stunned ever since . Certainly the best one I have seen


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