Ghost-hunters left in the dark by TV show that never happened

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VOLUNTEERS who took part in a TV ghost-hunt in one of the Capital's most haunted places claim they've been duped.

Around 40 fans of the paranormal paid 100 each to take part in the filming of Chamber of Fear, set in the city's Blair Street vaults.

The group, who took up the challenge after reading a newspaper advert, were locked in the vault overnight on April 29.

The event organiser, Global Challenge TV, claimed the programme had been sold to a cable TV channel and participants were promised their money back if it was not screened.

Volunteers say they were told the 100 was to cover administration costs and were promised a commemorative T-shirt and DVD in addition to their five minutes of fame.

Craig McLaren, a joiner from Haymarket, said the programme has not been aired and promises of a refund from Global Challenge TV had not materialised.

He said: "I've always been interested in the paranormal and the advert sounded really interesting so I called the number.

"It was a case of killing two birds with one stone for me as it was a chance to be on TV and find out more about ghosts."

Around 20 of the volunteers were from Edinburgh and the rest were from England.

The two groups were kept in separate parts of the vaults and it is understood the people from south of the Border paid an extra 300 to cover transport and accommodation.

Mr McLaren, 26, continued: "If I'd known that all we'd have been doing is sitting in the vaults then I would have saved a fortune and just gone on the regular tour.

"I think everyone is really frustrated because we were told it was going on television and all I want is my money back."

A film crew and TV presenter were on hand for the "fright night" and some of the volunteers claim to have experienced strange lights and movements during the night-time vigil.

"The whole thing is a joke and I honestly feel we were conned," said Sharon Thompson, 35, of Port Seton.

"We were told one woman didn't want to be in the film so they were waiting to edit her out but I think it was just another line they were feeding us to keep us off their back.

"We feel that we've been ripped off by Global Challenge and 100 is not a small amount of money to lose."

Claire Palmer, head of events at Mercat Tours, the firm who hired the vaults to Global Challenge TV, said Mercat hadn't been paid for the hire of the vaults.

She said: "I've been chasing them for months but I can't seem to pin them down and I've had contestants on the phone to me trying to find them as well."

Global Challenge TV used to be known as Record Breakers and is owned by Somerset businessman Gary Knight.

Mr Knight was investigated by the Charity Commission last year following complaints that Record Breakers had misled people raising money for charity through the firm's adventure challenges. The Commission found that Record Breakers did not have the right to handle charitable funds and the business later closed down.

A Charity Commission spokeswoman said: "We understand that Gary Knight has decided to close down Record Breakers and has established a new company called Global Challenge Television Limited.

"He has informed us that he will not be supporting any charities in the challenges Global Challenge Television organises."

The Evening News attempted to contact Mr Knight but all of the telephone numbers for Global Challenge TV no longer appear to be in use.