Hit children's author Jk Rowling has been blasted by a Vatican official for tempting children towards Devil-worship with her popular boy-wizard series Harry Potter.

The Roman Catholic Church's chief exorcist FATHER GABRIELE AMORTH has warned the magical schoolboy adventures are tainted by "the Prince of Darkness" and are inspiring a generation of Satanists and sinners.

The 80-year-old cleric, who has exorcised more than 3,000 malign spirits since 1986, said yesterday (28FEB06): "You start with Harry Potter, who comes across as a likeable wizard, but you end up with the Devil.

"There is no doubt that the signature of the Prince of Darkness is clearly within these books.

"By reading Harry Potter a young child will be drawn into magic and from there it is a simple step to Satanism and the Devil."

Harry Potter, played by teen star Daniel Radcliffe in the blockbuster movie adaptations, has previously been condemned by POPE BENEDICT XVI.

He claimed the stories are brimming with "seductions which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly".