Evil is stalking Northamptonshire in the undead form of the vampirized Princess Diana, claims ‘Bishop’ John Salford, Britain’s self-styled top vampire hunter. Salford, a senior cleric in the West Midlands Catholic Church who plies his ministry via the internet, looks set to stir controversy with his new book, Di, Monster, Di, in which he describes how he rescued an innocent young girl from the vampiric clutches of the Princess, before attempting to lay her Highness’ unquiet spirit to rest by locating her unmarked grave in the grounds of Althorp House and driving a stake through her heart. Sadly, despite digging up her coffin, he was prevented from completing his mission by the arrival of the Princess’ brother, Lord Althorp, and a party of estate workers, who ejected him bodily from the grounds. “They caught me just as I was about to decapitate her with a sexton’s spade,” laments the cleric, who believes Diana had been vampirised by the Queen Mother. “But I did manage to perform a powerful purification ritual over her body – hopefully that should be enough to keep her in check for a few months at least.” Despite being thwarted by the intervention of Lord Althorp, Salford remains determined to destroy the vampire and plans to return to the estate in force in order to finish the job. “After posting a request for assistance on an internet message board, I’ve already got over a hundred volunteers ready to accompany me,” he declares.

This is not the first time that Salford has employed such tactics to fight evil. He is currently on bail and facing charges of criminal damage after over a hundred amateur vampire hunters descended on a Sheffield graveyard in April, following his appeal on local radio for help in hunting down another undead bloodsucker. Over fifty graves were dug up in the ensuing frenzy, with several bodies being staked and other remains being scattered across the cemetery. Salford remains unrepentant over the incident, pointing out that there has been no subsequent vampire activity in the area. He claims he was first alerted to the strange goings on around Althorp when a teenage girl from the nearby village of Great Brington contacted him in an internet chat room. “She told me that this spectral woman had frequently appeared at her first floor bedroom window at night, rapping on the glass and imploring her in cut glass tones to let her in. Once, when she looked out of the window, she saw the woman standing in the road below, next to a ghostly Mercedes limousine, gesturing her to come outside and get into the car with her,” confides the forty-two year old vampire hunter. “From her descriptions, I had no doubt that the midnight visitor was none other than Princess Diana. Naturally, I decided it was imperative I travelled to the village as quickly as possible in order to safeguard this poor child’s soul!”

However, doubt has been cast upon both Salford’s ecclesiastical qualifications, and his account of the Althorp vampire. According to Don Faddle, co-founder with Salford of the South Yorkshire Occult Society, the ‘Bishop’ was in fact expelled from the Roman Catholic church when a novice priest, following an alleged exorcism involving several novice nuns and an allegedly demonically possessed cucumber. “Some of those young girls were so severely traumatised by the experience that they haven’t been able to handle a wimple since,” says Faddle, who has since formed the breakaway Cleethorpes Supernatural and Occult Association. “He was eventually initiated into the West Midlands Catholic Church, a dodgy outfit set up by a Worcester used car salesman who anointed himself the Pope of Birmingham and proceeded to throw in ordinations as part of the deal on selected used cars. I believe John got his bishopric when he traded in his Montego for a low-milage Ford Mondeo.”

Faddle also claims that Salford actually visited the Althorp estate as an ordinary tourist. “He was only expelled when he was caught attempting to row out to the island in the lake where she’s buried, armed with several shovels. The estate management were convinced he was some kind of sicko collector planning to dig up the body and sell bits of it as souvenirs,” he says. “As for saving that local girl’s soul, he seems to do a lot of that – usually they’re about sixteen with heaving D-cup bosoms! Apparently he surfs the net relentlessly in search of such lost souls!” Salford has moved quickly to refute these allegations, claiming that although he spent the night in the young girl’s bedroom, it was solely for the purposes of protecting her from further vampiric attacks. “As long as she could feel the firmness of my crucifix in the bed beside her, she knew she was safe,” he says. “Sure enough, come midnight, Diana appeared at the window! Even though I knew what to expect, the sight of that familiar face, crowned by a glittering diamond tiara, was a real shock!” Repelled by the sight of Salford’s huge crucifix, the vampire crashed out through the window and vanished into the night.

Salford has hit back at Faddle, revealing that he also has dark secrets, being the defendant in an upcoming case at Doncaster Crown Court. “He’s facing a five year sentence if he’s found guilty of desecrating graves and indecent behaviour with corpses,” claims Salford. “He and a band of his followers were caught by the police performing bizarre nude rituals with disinterred corpses at midnight in a Scunthorpe graveyard.” In fact, Faddle was arrested just outside Rotherham, when a traffic policeman who had pulled him over because of a faulty rear light found that Faddle’s front seat passenger was a freshly dug up corpse. “My actions have been totally misrepresented by Salford,” retorts Faddle. “Whilst it is true that we were in that graveyard, and we were naked and, yes, we did dig up some bodies, there was nothing sexual or depraved about it. It was an ancient and sacred ritual designed to briefly raise the dead so as to gain information from the ‘other side’ about the activities of a local vampire. When that didn’t work, I decided the best thing was to drive the corpse home and try again at the altar I had set up in my bedsit. It was all perfectly innocent!”

However, one of Faddle’s acolytes has already told a local newspaper that the ritual was anything but innocent. “We all knew it was about sex! The only reason I joined the Occult Society was because of the nude Satanic rites they held – I thought it would be a good way to see naked girls,” claims eighteen year old Thomas Grinder, who was disappointed to discover the only person he was to have sex with was Faddle, who allegedly buggered him as part of the ritual. “Don raised something in that graveyard, and it certainly wasn’t the dead!” Both Salford and Faddle are currently undergoing psychiatric assessments prior to their separate court appearances next month.