CAMPAIGNERS are calling for the Pendle witches to be pardoned.

Pendle MP Gordon Prentice led the calls after a petition was handed to the Scottish Parliament yesterday calling to clear the names of all people convicted under witchcraft legislation.

Pendle witches were hung after being found guilty of witchcraft in 1612.

The 13 men and women were accused of witchcraft and murder by witchcraft after 17 people in and around the forest of Pendle died mysteriously.

Ten of them were hanged at Lancaster jail in front of huge crowds after being accused of casting spells on people.

Mr Prentice said: "I'm backing the moves in Scotland for the pardon as I was born in Edinburgh.

"I am definitely hopeful that they will be pardoned and that the Pendle witches will also be pardoned."

Mr Prentice called for the witches to be pardoned a decade ago but Blackburn MP Jack Straw, who was Home Secretary at the time, decided the convictions should stand.

And now the campaign has been started by Full Moon Investigations, a Scottish-based paranormal group, which handed the petition to the Scottish Parliament yesterday.

Andrea Byrne, co-founder of the group, said: "We handed the petition with 275 names on to the Scottish Parliament. We are hoping that we will be successful and if so we will then be extending the petition to England and after that across the Atlantic to America.

"We believe that theses people were innocent and were just at the victims of unfortunate circumstances."

Local historian and ghost walker Simon Entwistle said: "I think the Pendle witches should be pardoned. I think their defendants would appreciate it and they have done so much for the area. They have made Pendle a tourism hotspot. This is the least we could do for them."

Pendle councillor George Adam said the witches' convictions were "miscarriage of justice".

He said: "I would certainly support a petition to have the Pendle witches pardoned.

"I think a petition like this would bring the witches back into the limelight and as a result get more publicity for Pendle."

Pat Higginson (nee Nutter), 74, from Preston, who found out she was related to Pendle witch Alice Nutter after tracing back her family history, said: "They definitely should be pardoned. They were innocent.

"I believe she was trying to help people with herbs, nothing more. She was very wronged."