The North Wales Incident: Lifting the lid on unethical ghost hunters

When you are a ghost hunter it isn’t always obvious when your behaviour is about to become unethical. You can become so caught up in the moment, truly believing that you’re finding evidence of ghosts that it’s the hunt for more evidence that’s at the front of your mind rather than a sense of what is right or wrong beyond the ghost hunt. This is probably what happened recently in North Wales when a paranormal research team moved their ghost hunt from inside a pub and across the road into the local parish church graveyard. I imagine that the investigators didn’t think twice about standing among the graves and asking for spirits or ghosts to make themselves known. What could possibly go wrong?

Yet, a local resident who has family buried there was mortified and deeply upset when she heard what had happened from a friend who took part in the ghost hunting event.

I heard of this from a paranormal researcher that I know through mutual friends after the researcher was approached by the upset woman for advice. The researcher told me ‘she had spoken with her relatives and was afraid what occurred would become common knowledge in the vicinity. There are a few people she knew that would be deeply upset by what happened.’

I was asked to write about this as a warning to other paranormal researchers, and to point out that this isn’t the way to behave. Yet, although I agree that what happened wasn’t right, part of me wondered what had driven those people from the pub where they were invited to be, and across to the graveyard where there was no such invitation.

I contacted the team in question to tell them what had been reported to me and to ask why they had made the decision to do that. I wondered if perhaps I would receive abusive messages in response as I often do when being critical of ghost hunters, but instead I received a remorseful response.

‘We as a team would like to take the opportunity to send a sincere apology to all concerned’ they wrote, going on to explain their conduct. ‘We are deeply sorry though … and we do take this opportunity to apologise to all. We would have ideally liked to apologise directly but that is not to be the case. We shall bare the concerns raised in future and make it public that we will not visit this type of location again.’

There are lessons to be learned here for all.

Harm has occurred because of the behaviour of these paranormal researchers. In their email they explained that ‘every paranormal team at sometime or another have visited a church yard’ which is false (I’ve never visited a graveyard with any team I’ve been involved with) and is also potentially indicative of their decision making process.

As humans we attempt to live in accordance to what is and isn’t moral but our own senses of morality can be compromised by biases. This is why it’s important to have a previously-agreed-to Code of Ethics and Conduct that doesn’t get compromised because of what other teams do and what you’d like to do.

The code of ethics that I personally use as a researcher wouldn’t allow me to enter a graveyard to look for ghosts. Hell, it wouldn’t even allow me to involve paying members of the public in something I marketed as an investigation without the use of an entertainment disclaimer. It’s these things that set us apart as researchers – those who give a shit about others before themselves, and those that don’t.

Even so, the team involved in this incident seem to be genuinely sorry about what has happened and I think many critics of unethical ghost hunters can learn something important here too. These incidents are often not malicious in origin and are instead the product of ignorance. Attacking ghost hunters for being unethical does nothing to fight that ignorance and does nothing to lessen the unethical behaviour being criticised. A number of people would do well to think of that when they next take to Facebook for a very public rant about the latest team they’ve seen doing questionable things.

If anyone reading this would like to chat about creating a code of ethics for their team you can contact me here.

About Hayley Stevens 448 Articles
Hayley is a ghost geek and started to blog in 2007. She uses scientific scepticism to investigate weird stuff and writes about it here while also speaking publicly about how to hunt ghosts as a skeptic.

8 Comments on The North Wales Incident: Lifting the lid on unethical ghost hunters

  1. Well done Paranormal Team, excellent and kind response. Terrific article once again Hayley and a code of ethics should be as part of a paranormal team as a torch.

  2. Excellent points! When I was asked to do solo investigations, on several occasions, even though I had been invited to the sites by present owners, I decided not to write about a location/ghost because surviving family still lived in the area and might be distressed by the stories. Then there’s the question of the “ghost-writers” and ghost-tour operators who think it is OK to make up stories–the more lurid the better. A photographer, who shall be nameless, keeps making up completely false murder/suicide/demon tales about abandoned houses. One of the houses was burnt down recently by “ghost hunters” inspired by his wild tales. A Perth jail recently put a stop to ghost tours because the “psychic” running them was telling fake stories about its history. Given the prevalence of this sort of thing, I don’t hold out much hope that any code of ethics would stop the bad actors.

  3. And what terrible deed did these “ghosthunters” do?
    What was the unnameable crime then?
    It must truly be graverobbing, or desecration, it not being named…

    • I have actually written this in the post, but I think the point you’re trying to make without actually coming out and saying it is “ghosts aren’t real so there’s no harm done”, but by doing so what you fail to grasp is that to many people the idea of ghosts makes sense and it helps them with the grieving process and it is deeply troubling when someone starts messing around by sites of burial.

      If it wouldn’t upset you then that’s great! But the world exists beyond your nose.

  4. I come from the skeptic camp. However many people who I know and respect have deeply held religious views. I live in Wales and know that the actions of this group would be a complete anathema to the traditionally held views of many of the people. They were on sacred ground, this means an awful lot to the people that worship in the chapels and churches and respect and remember their deceased.

  5. I honestly can’t understand why some people expect to find ghostly evidence in graveyards. If I were a ghost, I would be visiting places that I loved while alive, not some depressing place full of bones. Just sayin’ is all. : P

  6. Your blog itself looks ghostly. The washed out font might look sophisticated, but it is very difficult to read. As far as the often immature and irresponsible antics of ‘ghost hunters’ yes by all means they do need to know that trampling over graves and attributing ghostly antics to the deceased is likely to infuriate thier still living relatives. One crew in our city located the house and provided family history of what they claimed was a haunting and was sued for libel and emotional distress. In addition, they word ‘demonic’ should be banned from the field.

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