A film director from Barrowford said she is “delighted”, as her campaign to posthumously pardon those convicted for witchcraft offences is to be discussed by the Government. 

Bolton born Emma Swinton is part of the Justice for Witches campaign, and has been urging the public to sign a petition, created by Charlotte Meredith, to pardon those convicted hundreds of years ago.

The petition has now received more than 13,000 signatures, meaning the Government is now required to respond to it.

Emma, who made a short film about the infamous Pendle witch trials which took place in 1612, said she is hopeful those convicted can finally get justice after they were subjected to “barbaric miscarriage of justice”.

Emma said: “Myself and the Justice for Witches team are absolutely delighted that the petition has reached 10k signatures.

“We are now well into 13,000 signatures and the petition is showing no signs of slowing down.

“Thank you so much to our supporters and people who have signed and are continuing to share this petition. We are in awe of the support!

“The people killed in the witch hunts were subject to a barbaric miscarriage of justice.

“They were our great-grandmothers, our great-grandfathers, the time has come for these innocent people's names to be cleared. We look forward to hearing the government's response.”

In 1542 Parliament passed the Witchcraft Act which defined witchcraft as a crime punishable by death. It was repealed five years later, but restored by a new Act in 1562.  

A further law was passed in 1604 during the reign of James I who took a keen interest in demonology and even published a book on it. The 1562 and 1604 Acts transferred the trial of 'witches' from the church to the ordinary courts. 

Those convicted under the act have never been pardoned and witch trails still take place across the world, in the modern day.

Emma, who was born in Bolton, made short film called The Witch’s Daughter. It takes a closer look at the life of nine-year-old Jennet Device, who was a key witness in the trials and many historians argue her testimony led to the death of her family members and neighbours.

Burnley girl Esme Whalley and Burn Gorman, who starred in Game of Thrones and The Dark Knight Rises, starred in the film.

Emma said: “They were everyday people who were caught up in a political game that was bigger than themselves. It was all just a web of corruption

“They weren’t witches. They were normal people and mums, sisters, brothers and children were imprisoned, hanged for months, starved, tortured. It was cruel and they deserve to be pardoned.

“People ask me ‘why does it matter now’ and I just think why does somebody’s life hundreds of years ago matter any less than somebody’s life now?”