The Scandal of Scientology, by Paulette Cooper | Next | Prev | Cites | Index

Chapter 8

The British and Australian Orgs

If Britain acts, then you must know that the hour is late.
-- South African minister of health urging their Parliament to have an Inquiry{1}

In England, the main Scientology Org is "Saint Hill," a 243-year-old fifty-seven-acre estate in East Grinstead, Sussex, that was formerly the home of the Maharaja of Jaipur, and before that, Mrs. Anthony Drexel Biddle.{2} When Hubbard arrived there in 1959, he joined right into the spirit of things, becoming East Grinstead's Road Safety Organizer.{3} One paper reported that he attended only one meeting, telling how Americans reduce car accidents, and suggested they use schoolboy campaign patrols. After that, he sent his ideas through a local press office.

During these early days, Hubbard was said to have gotten up at Hyde Park's Speakers Corner, to have grown giant radishes which he said had been exposed to X-rays, and to have invited a local journalist to Saint Hill to tell him of his theory that plant life can feel and think.{4} If Hubbard really believed this, he apparently didn't care what the plant felt or thought, since he promptly attached the plant to an E-meter, stuck pins into the plant, tore off its leaves, and reduced it to a ruined stump.

Unlike the plant, Scientology and Hubbard thrived in the mysterious manor. Scientology, however, has not been accorded, or at least permitted, the same religious status in England as in America, since the British Registrar General refused to register Saint Hill as a place of worship under the Place of Worship Registration Act.{5} ("While Scientology may be wholly admirable, I find it difficult to reach the conclusion that it is a religion."){6} So Hubbard has had to be happy with running a college, "controlling the operation,"{7} as he said in one interview, and sending his decrees, policies, etc., by Telex to his Orgs and franchises in five continents while collecting his ten percent and more.

But things began to sour, and some time after Hubbard left England to establish the Sea Org, he was barred from returning to the country. He says this was because the government didn't like his books. "I have committed no crime," he said, "except writing about helping people to be happy. Mr. Callahan [who probably barred him] doesn't like people to be happy obviously."{8}

Although the British did not seem to object to Hubbard's books -- or to making people happy -- many complained about the Scientologists themselves, who were allegedly passing out their literature at Rugby matches held in aid of the blind, letting school children distribute Scientology propaganda, and sending out letters soliciting children from six to fourteen years old as members.{9}

Some of the biggest outcries against Scientology came from the town of East Grinstead, where right from the beginning, the local residents were upset over the enormous number of people entering and leaving Saint Hill manor which was registered as a residence. But Hubbard, even three years after he arrived there, insisted he had only his personal staff at the manor and allegedly stated "I guess the[y] ... noticed all the traffic. There's been a lot of excitement here. I've discovered a kind of psychological treatment which would make people live twenty to twenty-five years longer."{10}

The traffic increased and so did the antagonism. The townspeople were worried that their children might become Scientologists, perhaps justifiably, since they and their children were constantly being solicited to join, and Scientologists allegedly said they planned to make East Grinstead the first "clear town."{11} School officials complained that they couldn't even let the children go outside without encountering Scientologists.{12}

Some complained that they didn't even have to go outside to be bothered by them. One nun stated that Scientologists entered her school grounds and tried to talk to the students. She got rid of them once by mentioning the word "police," and on another occasion, she claimed, a Scientologist put his foot in the door and she stomped on it.{13} Some of the local residents complained that they too didn't have to go out of their houses to encounter the Scientologists, who supposedly called them at their homes and said, "I am your local Scientologist. Is there anything you need?"{14}

There were also some Scientology scandals in the town: "death lessons" (to be discussed later) and a scandal in December of 1967, when a number of Scientology children were picked up for shoplifting, and a girl who was taking a Scientology course was accused of immoral behavior.{15} The News of the World, which broke the story, said that a fifteen-year-old girl who was taking a Scientology course was found asleep near East Grinstead with three men in a scrap metal truck. The next day, the girl allegedly admitted that she had had intercourse with three boys, once with a man she met at a youth club, the second time at a party where she said she got very drunk, and the third time with a gypsy, one of the men found with her in the truck. Their being Scientologists or children of Scientologists may have had nothing to do with their behavior, but Scientology was condemned nonetheless.

Another scandal in England which indirectly involved Scientology occurred in 1964. At that time, two Scientologists, Mary Ann, an illegitimate daughter of a Scots mill worker, and Robert de Grinston, a Scientologist, met in Scientology, married, and then left the Scientology movement.

They began their own group, which they called the "Process," although it was nicknamed "The Mindbenders" by others, and incorporated a number of Scientology ideas, including the E-meter.{16} Instead of worshipping Hubbard, members of the Process worshipped Mary Ann de Grinston, and many of the members truly believed she was God, a delusion that Mary Ann and her husband did nothing to discourage.

Mary and Bob lived upstairs in their large home, above the other members who were living five to six to a room. When they came downstairs, the Sunday Telegraph in England described, "They descended like Gods. She was the resident deity. He her consort." Members were so anxious to please and emulate her, that when she bought an Alsatian dog, everyone else in the group did also.

By 1966, the Process had moved, Alsatian dogs and all, to Mexico, where they were living in "paradise," according to them, with no gas, electricity, sanitation, water, or beds, at a cost of approximately $8 a day divided among fifteen people. In England, the Daily Express estimated that over two hundred people had been involved with the Process at one time or another, and that at least three had suffered nervous breakdowns.

Although the article in the Daily Express suggested that the group had dissolved, its obituary was written prematurely. On September 14, 1969, the Sunday Mirror in England reported that three Americans "with large dogs" were sailing on the Queen Elizabeth II to join the Process -- now called "The Final Church of Judgment."{17}

Apparently the Process is still thriving in England. Only now it is obviously Robert who is the worshipped one. He is called "The Christ of Carnaby Street." In addition to deifying him, the group worships Satan, Lucifer, Jehovah and Christ, who are all regarded as having equal status.

The group also worships sex, and the Sunday Mirror reported that their magazine, The Process contained articles praising all types of perversions, stating "let no so-called sin, perversion and depravity escape your searching senses, participate in all of them to overflowing." They also suggested a few, such as sex in an alleyway with people walking in the nearby street, intercourse with a cripple or halfwit, flagellation, necrophilia, sex in a cemetery, and Black Mass, which is to be finished by "Divine degredation."

But one of the biggest Scientology scandals in England occurred in 1967. The Scientologists took a girl into the group, Karen Henslow, who had been in psychiatric institutions three times during her life (although the Scientologists claim they do not take people who have a history of institutionalization.) Miss Henslow had a relapse while in Scientology. (See Chapter 21)

The British finally began to look into Scientology and into the complaint letters received by the British Ministry of Health.{18} Mr. Peter Hordern, MP of Horsham, who had originally brought up the case of Karen Henslow in Parliament, asked the Minister of Health, then Kenneth Robinson, to conduct an inquiry into Scientology. Although Robinson decided not to do so at the time,{19} he did make some rather unflattering statements about the Scientologists.

Robinson said that they "direct themselves to the weak, the unbalanced, the immature, the rootless, and the mentally or emotionally unstable," and that their "authoritarian principles ... are a potential menace ... to the personality and well-being of those so deluded as to become its followers."{20} Although he regretted that he had no power under the existing laws to prohibit the practice of Scientology, he said that "the government has concluded that it is so objectionable that it would be right to take all steps within its power to curb its growth."{21} In return, the Scientology newspaper Freedom has made some rather unflattering statements about Kenneth Robinson and his association with the National Association of Mental Health, which they believe is part of a vast conspiracy against them.{22}

One step Robinson took to curb the growth of Scientology was to make the "Hubbard College of Scientology" no longer an educational establishment. This meant that foreigners and Commonwealth citizens could no longer enter England to study (or work) there, nor would those who were already there be given extensions.{23}

David Gaiman, the Scientology spokesman in England, called this move "another example of ill-intentioned, diabolic, pompous, official bumbledom;" and said later, "We are certainly no worse than other minority groups like Jehovah's Witnesses or Plymouth Brethren ... at this rate [they] will turn around tomorrow and without giving any reason ban Roman Catholics."{24}

Although this policy of barring Scientologists was rigidly enforced at first (and an entire planeload of American Scientologists was turned back), Scientologists report that enforcement has been rather lax lately.{25} Perhaps that's because the British have decided to take even more drastic steps. An inquiry into the Scientology organization is currently underway.{26}

The decision to set up this inquiry was announced in the House of Commons on January 27, 1969, by Mr. Richard Crossman, Secretary of State for Social Services, who also stated that Sir John Foster, QC, would conduct the inquiry. In view of what was called in Parliament the "character assassinations"{27} perpetrated by the Scientologists against those who have previously attacked them (especially in Australia, where the Scientologists were even said to have sent agents out after those who opposed them{28}), Sir John Foster's job is not an enviable one.

Mr. Crossman also stated at that time that Sir John Foster would take evidence for this inquiry privately, and that the witnesses would not be on oath, because the "kind of evidence we want will be from people of a nervous nature, who will not face cross-examination or any public examination."{29} The Scientologists countered this statement by saying that if they wanted evidence from people of a nervous nature "this immediately precludes Scientologists who are happy, relaxed, and purposeful."{30}

While a private inquiry, with no cross-examination and not on oath, may not be in keeping with most people's idea of English jurisprudence, Mr. Crossman explained why he chose an inquiry of this sort. It can be assumed that his final metaphor was an unintentional slur to the Scientologists.

Unfortunately, the choice is very limited for the government. We either have to have a formal inquiry under the Tribunals of Inquiry Evidence ... Act ... or we have to have the sort which I have proposed. I thought that to use the former would be to take a sledgehammer to crack a nut.{31}

The Scientologists stated their opinion of this inquiry, and its nature, in Freedom.

To take executive action against a Church [banning Scientologists from coming into the country] and then seven months later hold an inquiry to provide, if it can be found, the evidence to justify the action is to find guilt without any trial ... to accept gossip, privately and not on oath may be alright [sic.] to handle a problem in Bognor Regis, but it is not ethical to conduct a private smear campaign against 150,000 people in the British Isles.... This is the way a witch hunt begins, this is the way a police state gets into operation, and this is the way in which men, Callaghan, Crossman and Robinson attempt to back up their poor faulty judgment and faulty decision -- taken in the full glare of worldwide publicity -- because they haven't the grace to admit they were wrong in the first place. This is gross misuse of Ministerial Office.{32}

The article also implied that all this was part of a "conspiracy" against Scientology, and in a later issue of Freedom, they revealed who was part of this "Anti-Scientology Organization Chart" and "Electric Death Camp Utopia."{33} They named seven countries with the National Association of Mental Health in the forefront of almost all of them, and in England, they also implicated several members of Parliament, Dr. Russell Barton, a prestigious British psychiatrist, and the News of the World and the Daily Mail. Both of these papers have written a number of negative articles on Scientology and Hubbard, and a couple of issues cast doubt on both his qualifications and his sanity.

The English Scientologists have recently made a number of moves to help polish their tarnishing image. They ended some of their more criticized policies, such as security checking and "disconnecting" (to be discussed later). They also opened Saint Hill Manor to outsiders, for what David Gaiman said would be "rather like a vicarage tea party."{34}

He promised donkey and pony rides for the children -- and Scientology films and cartoons for the adults. John McMasters, the first clear (who is also Hubbard's very eloquent personal spokesman{35}), would speak, and soft drinks (no alcohol) would be served. David Gaiman stated that Mr. Robinson was invited, but that he wrote saying he was unable to attend.{36}

In addition, Scientologists have actively started promoting Dianetics again, perhaps in anticipation of a prohibition of Scientology, or possibly to partially dissociate themselves from Scientology while it is getting negative publicity.{37} Although Scientologists have boasted that the publicity has actually helped them, certain things suggest that while this may have been true initially (and there may have been an initial influx of curiosity-seekers who came to find out what all the fuss was about), in the long run the publicity may not have done them much good.

One would expect that if it really had increased their number, the Scientologists would be anxious to identify themselves and their services with the group that was getting the publicity. Instead, they are now emphasizing Dianetics. Last summer, there was no mention of Scientology in their entire Tottenham Court Road bookshop and the only books and signs around were about Dianetics. (The Scientologists, however, seemed to have forgotten to pull down their marquee, which said "Scientology" on it.)

They are also attempting, perhaps, to win back some of their critics, such as members of the medical profession. Toward this last goal, one recent issue of Freedom, which for the first time promoted Dianetics instead of Scientology, said that people who are sick must receive medical attention before starting on Dianetics. However, the statement that "Dianetic Counsellors work very closely with Doctors in England"{38} would perhaps make many doctors livid.

Scientologists have reason to be concerned right now. If the British Inquiry has the same results as the Australian one (and it could be even worse for them, since at the Australian Inquiry, Scientologists were permitted to be present, witnesses were on oath, and they were cross-examined), Scientology could be banned in England as well.

Scientologists are understandably bitter about the Australian Report. It is an incredible denunciation of the Scientologists, and even says that they have "no worthwhile redeeming features." Almost every paragraph of the report is a criticism. Where evidence could perhaps have been interpreted equivocably, either for or against them, it was consistently interpreted against them.

Hubbard is extremely hostile to the report. According to the Sun, in England, he claims he was forbidden to appear at the Inquiry, and that no testimony or witnesses on his behalf were heard.{39} According to the Inquiry, many of the witnesses were Scientologists and the Scientologists were represented until they voluntarily withdrew.

The Board also claimed that they repeatedly invited Hubbard to attend but that he failed to do so. They felt he stayed away purposely so as to have something to criticize the Board for. They also believed that he didn't appear because if he had taken the stand and repudiated his writings, he would have appeared deceitful, and if he had not disowned them, he stood "condemned by their content." Hubbard, by the way, has been invited to testify at the British Inquiry. So far he has failed to show.{40}

Scientologists believe that they were condemned in Australia because various prominent witnesses "connived to produce hostile evidence."{41} Furthermore they claim that only four witnesses said Scientology hadn't helped them, and that they have "affidavits" which show that "one of these was a blackmailer, the second a professional car thief, the third was brainwashed by the first two, and the last was intimidated by terrorism."{42} Since 151 witnesses testified,{43} the Scientologists argue that if only four people said Scientology hadn't helped them, Scientology is 97.351 percent effective. They also argue -- although they claim they are not a form of therapy -- that psychiatry is only twelve percent effective{44} with eighty-eight percent "maimed for life or dead."{45}

Actually the Scientologists may be correct in stating that only four people specifically stated that Scientology hadn't helped them, but a number of witnesses said things about Scientology that made them look a lot worse than that, and a great deal of written testimony was introduced that was even more damaging to them than the verbal statements.

In addition, among the 151 people that Scientologists said were helped by Scientology, many were expert witnesses in science, physics, medicine, psychiatry, etc., who presented evidence, more often against than for Scientology. (The reader also should not get confused over the Scientologists' numbers. One hundred fifty-one witnesses gave testimony at the Australian Inquiry and this was explicitly stated in the report. The Scientologists seem to think it was 155, because they keep talking about the 151 witnesses for Scientology plus the four against it. Some of their other arguments against this Inquiry also suggest that those who are most outspoken against it, did not read it very carefully.)

Finally, the Scientologists also argue that the report is unfair because the psychiatrists who testified against Scientology were incapable of judging it inasmuch as they had never personally treated a Scientologist.{46} But Scientologists are not permitted to undergo psychiatric treatment,{47} so few psychiatrists would have had the opportunity to treat them. In addition, many of these psychiatrists read transcripts or descriptions of sessions so they had something to base their opinions on. (It appears that some may have also watched the sessions through a two-way mirror.) And finally, to say that psychiatric opinion on the merits of a certain type of treatment is worthless because the psychiatrists hadn't personally treated the person involved is not much different from saying that a ballistic expert cannot be called in a court trial because he didn't personally know the man who shot the gun.

One thing no one can argue about -- a lot of testimony was produced. Kevin Anderson, QC, now Justice Anderson of the Supreme Court of Victoria{48} spent 160 days listening to four million words totalling 8,921 pages of testimony,{49} or, as the Scientologists put it "not much shorter than the Nuremberg trials."{50} Some of this was condensed into a very-difficult-to-obtain (fortunately for the Scientologists) 201-page report, which makes repeated references to the depravity and perversions they claimed existed in the Scientology movement. (It also keeps promising that more information on this will be included in Appendix 19, and so the fingers eagerly fly to the back of the report only to discover with much sadness that there is no Appendix 19. It was not included because the various members of the government considered it to be "obscene."{51})

On the basis of the testimony, the report concluded that "Scientology is evil; its techniques evil; its practice a serious threat to the community, medically, morally and socially; and its adherents are sadly deluded and often mentally ill."

The Victorian Parliament accepted Anderson's conclusion that Scientology was the "world's largest organization of unqualified persons engaged in the practice of dangerous techniques which masquerade as mental therapy,"{52} and passed the 1965 "Psychological Practices Act." This Act, among other things, makes teaching Scientology, applying it, or even advertising it punishable by up to $500 and two years in jail.{53}

But Scientology seems to be making a comeback in Victoria right now{54} since they are holding "religious services" for approximately sixty-five people a week in an unmarked house that is said to contain a "chapel," along with the usual pictures of Hubbard, books by Hubbard, Scientology charts -- and a small box in the entrance asking for donations for Scientology expansion.

Contents | Next | Previous | Index

Citations & Notes

{1} initial quote [248]
{2} Saint Hill [142]
{3} Road Safety Organizer [180]
{4} Hyde Park; radishes; plants [225]
{5} not a religion [239]
{6} quote on religion [239]
{7} "controlling the operation" [142]
{8} quote on writing books by Hubbard [186]
{9} soliciting children [274]
{10} Hubbard claimed only personal staff; quote on living longer and traffic [170]
{11} clear town [214]
{12} children can't go out [214, 242]
{13} difficulties they had [214]
{14} Scientology calling homes [198]
{15} shoplifting and immorality [197]
{16} The Process [163, 219]
{17} The Process today [193]
{18} letters of complaints [153]
{19} Robinson refuses inquiry [233]
{20} (21) quote by Robinson [258]
{21} (20) Robinson acts [150, 258]
{22} statements against Robinson [57]
{23} banning foreigners; not a college [227, 224]
{24} quote by Gaiman [217 or 215, 236]
{25} Scientologists say enforcement of ban lax [224]
{26} inquiry decision [259]
{27} "character assassination" [259]
{28} Australian harrassment [257]
{29} quote on nervous people [259]
{30} Scientology quote [57]
{31} Crossman quote [259]
{32} Scientology reply [57]
{33} conspiracy revealed [57]
{34} opening St. Hill [236]
{35} McMasters personal spokesman of Hubbard [75]
{36} Robinson not coming [217a]
{37} promoting Dianetics [178]
{38} Dianetics & Doctors [64]
{39} (40) why not attending [261]
{40} (39) Hubbard not attending [204]
{41} witnesses connived [57]
{42} 4 hostile witnesses [54]
{43} 151 witnesses for it [54]
{44} psychiatry [128] {ambiguous citation}
{45} effective [54]
{46} psychiatrists didn't treat Scientologist [6]
{47} can't go to psych. [120]
{48} Justice Anderson [270]
{49} amount of testimony [261]
{50} Nuremberg trials [60]
{51} Appendix 19 [243]
{52} Anderson quote [261]
{53} Psych. Prac. Act [282]
{54} current comeback [245]
Extraneous citation notes:
{55} fn Robinson threatens suit [183]
{56} Scientology welcomes it [62]
{57} allegations against attorney [262]
{58} House of Commons additional debate [259]
{59} quote by Hordern [257]
{60} 151 witnesses [261]