". . . guests are gone,
A sadder and a wiser man,
He rose the morrow morn."

("The Ancient Mariner", S. T. Coleridge 1772-1834)

The elements which started to rock the "good ship" "Apollo" have now become manifest. We can see how tourists' protests are now reaching Foreign Minister Pipinelis, how complaints from the Corfu Security Police are flooding in to Brigadier Patakos, the deputy Premier continuously badgered by the foreign press and we can hear the Bishop raising his voice at the Ministry of Religious Affairs. We shall shortly see how these very same elements came to shipwreck Hubbard's plans and ambitions.

But let the drama first reach its climax. As a result of recent developments a feeling of uneasiness has now pervaded over Hubbard's select committee of Corfiots charged with the aggrandisement of El Ron's image in the eyes of the Colonels, in spite of assurances received as a result of dispatching the following telegram:

Dated 20 January 1969

"To their Excellencies, Prime Minister G. Papadopoulos and Deputy Minister S. Pattakos, Athens.

"For many months there lies anchored in Corfu Harbour a ship named "Apollo" on which functions Professor Hubbard's Philosophy School. So far this school has never given cause for any misunderstandings but on the contrary it spends considerable sums to buy supplies from the local market. These sums so spent give considerable boost to the anaemic Corfu market. We now learn that various persons entirely foreign to Corfu are trying to persuade the Government to cancel the permit given to the vessel to remain without giving any specific reasons against the school.

"Since as far as we know nothing suspicious exists against this school and since it is not permissible for foreigners to run our homes we submit to you our warmest plea to disregard these efforts of said foreigners and to allow the vessel to remain in Corfu. This school possessing serious capital and an extensive net of branches abroad plans to get established in Corfu permanently and Corfu tourism would profit greatly.

"(Signed) Manufacturers and Merchants Society, Gerondicos, Traders Union, Hondroyannis, Labour Centre, Gynargeros, Shopkeepers Society, Moutsos."

The Colonels craftily passed the buck to Yannis Lagonikas, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Mercantile Marine, and an old friend of the Harbourmaster, who telegraphed the following re-assurance:
"In reply to the organisations' telegram addressed to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, we have the honour to inform you that from the part of the Ministry of Merchant Marine there was never any objection for SS "Apollo" remaining in Corfu. (Signed) I. Lagonikas, Secretary General Ministry Merchant Marine."
The Corfiots were overjoyed with this news which was publicised in Hubbard's Corfiot press. But whilst this all appeared to be a promising answer about the ship "Apollo", it did not provide for a shore-based establishment in what was now being regarded by the scientologists as their promised land and neither did it express the views of the Prime Minister or his deputy to whom the telegram was jointly addressed.

The first graffiti to appear on the murals of the 'Church', was the warning from the London "Times" who reported on February 19th that whilst Hubbard had formed a limited company in Greece to carry on his enterprises, Foreign Minister Pipinelis had told a press conference that the Government was examining their activities before deciding on their request to be allowed to set up offices on Greek soil. El Ron parried this omen with front page headlines in the "Ephimeris ton Idisseon."


"Dr. Hubbard establishes a University in Corfu with the approval of Greek Government - this means that Mr. Hubbard has the facility to establish a branch of his school for foreign students . . . Corfu will welcome the students with particular pleasure."

To support this boast, thousands of leaflets were sent to scientologists all over the world, exhorting them "Come to AO - SH Greece."


There is no better place to take Advanced Courses than at the Advanced Org, Greece, on the island of Corfu, in the Ionian Sea a few miles off the Northwest mainland of Greece. Greece is the founding land of western philosophy and science - while Corfu is a famous tourist paradise which, as the first host of Scientology in greece, has become the corner-stone of a modern revitalized Greece.

You can reach Corfu by a 75 minute flight from Athens International airport. From Corfu airport take a taxi to the New port where the Advanced Org awaits you on a Sea Org ship. (Students live ashore in comfortable, hospitable accomodation of their own choice). Also, boats leave frequently for Corfu from Brindisi, Italy; from Piraeus (port of Athens) and from Igoumenitsa across from Corfu on the mainland.

Circular issued by the confident El Ron advertising his abortive Corfu School (defying the Greek law relating to the establishment of foreign schools and religions) and promising prospective students a pink ticket to paradise in consideration of the sum of $2,850 only.

The next bombshell was a statement to the press by Deputy Premier Minister Patakos emphasising that "no permission had yet been granted to the scientologists to become established on Greek soil and that both the United States and Great Britain would like them to leave Greece." One power had asked the help of the Greek Authorities in tracing a missing scientologist.

This time El Ron riposted through his trusty Corfu organ with the front page headlines:


"The Scientology School of Dr. Hubbard will start operating within 2-3 weeks.

"In this school higher officers will graduate with the title of Professor for appointment to the 28 Hubbard schools scattered round the world.

"Already many students have arrived here. The school will be housed in Dallietos House near the Phoenix Cinema. The students will stay in hotels of the town.

"Directress of the School is Professor T. Van Staden."

The "Church" had in fact rented a derelict block of ex-local government offices at a rent of 50,000 drachmas (£750) per year and had been busy cleaning out and repairing these premises completely unaware that Foreign Secretary Pipinelis had now requested the British and Australian Governments for information regarding the status of scientology in their countries. The reply from these Governments was to spell curtains for Hubbard, though the noose had not yet fully tightened round his neck.

Indeed, whilst the Colonels are still weighing up the evidence and deliberating on their verdicts, friends Tony Dunleavy, Delwyn Sanderson and Hanna Eltringham are enjoying the historical sites of Ioannina, the headquarters of the Military High Command, where they have been bidden by Lt. Colonel Adrianos, Chief of Intelligence, to listen to an ecclesiastical eulogy on the Colonels' regime, completely oblivious that the fate of the 'Church' is about to be sealed.

To add to the tension now mounting in Corfu, a task force of units of the U.S. 6th Fleet suddenly arrives on the 6th March to join the battle of propaganda, comprising U.S.S. "Freemont", L.P.A., and the LST "Grant Country". Detachments of Marines quickly went ashore from their assault landing craft and made their way to the areas where the scientologists' ships were berthed. Sentries were placed at strategic points where they were in a position to prevent any U.S. navy personnel from coming into contact with the scientologists. (We have already seen what a blessing their arrival was for the detained Irish engineers Craig and Russell.)

These might, of course, have been normal precautions taken during the course of an ordinary routine visit. But, somehow, it seemed that this was a carefully planned Operation designed to bring forcibly home to the authorities the grave danger of contamination by this undesirable cult. If this was the aim of the exercise, then it was certainly one hundred per cent successful. The assault units were finally withdrawn from Corfu on 12th March.

El Ron countered by instructing his mouthpieces, the Corfu dailies "Kerkyraiki" and "Ephimeris ton Idisseon", to release the following front page news:

"Officials of the new School being established in Corfu have just informed us that students of Dr. Hubbard's Philosophy from Denmark, United Kingdom South Africa and Australia have heard of the new school in Corfu and have begun making the arrangements to come to Corfu. Eight students have written from Denmark during the short time since the opening of the school was announced, one has registered from the U.K., five from South Africa and one from Australia. It is reported that with each day more and more replies are coming in for the new school and that Corfu will surge economically and spiritually as a result of Mr. Hubbard’s school."
But this time it was the turn of Hubbard's media to be gagged and the Commodore must have wondered why what was to be his last press release from Corfu never made the light of day.

The scientology saga finally came to an abrupt and dramatic end in the early hours of the morning of 19th March when Commodore Hubbard sailed from Corfu in his flagship, "Apollo", escorted by the remainder of his flotilla, the trawler, "Athena", the yacht, "Diana" and the catamaran, "Nekambi", four and a half hours late after being given 24 hours notice by the Nomarch of Corfu to leave these shores.

The day of final departure was not without incident. From the moment of the issue of the Nomarch's injunction on the 18th March, the security authorities, taking a leaf out of the U.S. Marines' copybook, placed strong police guards and patrols all around the area of the harbour whilst patrol cars patrolled the town in radio communication with the harbour. The crowds of well wishers who had been bidden by the Hubbard Organisation, through its local agents, to come and say their farewells at 5 p.m. were all turned sadly away.

The 'Church's' first reaction to the order to quit was to hand a letter to the Nomarch, the Military Commander and the Naval Commander stating that they would endeavour to comply with the order but that the' "Apollo" was not in a ready state to sail, a plea which was supported by the Harbourmaster and was possibly genuine. But a special harbour committee, after a four hour inspection, decided that the ship was quite capable of making Venice for which port the Hubbard Organisation claimed they were bound. But some twenty of Hubbard's executives evidently did not share this view and elected to return to their homes by air.

Another deputation of the 'Church' flew to Athens to unsuccessfully petition Ministers for a stay of execution of sentence, rejoining the "Apollo" in a spectacular and dramatic link up at the small port of Igoumenitsa on the Epirus coast after their abortive mission.

The news of his expulsion does not appear to have been broken to the sleeping El Ron personally until late in the day and when he was rudely awakened, he was overcome by shock. The M.O. of the "Apollo", after doubtlessly diagnosing his patient (like Colin Craig, page 35) as "wobbly and weak," summoned local surgeon Andreas Sordinas who administered an injection which enabled the Commodore to make a brave appearance on the bridge as the "Apollo" steamed out of Corfu harbour some hours later.

Watching the dramatic departure from the water front, I found myself standing next to S., the island's most prolific and eligible stag, a veritable "Superman" in his own right. Commiserating with him on the depletion of his stud, he confided, "as a matter of fact I'm not sorry they're gone. They are a lot of 'cockteasers'. When it comes to the point they all tell you they are only allowed to have sexual relations with fellow scientologists." Here was, indeed, an intriguing aspect or the Philosophy of the Church".

As the ship sailed, El Ron, like an earlier Messiah, wept and all his flock and his Corfiot disciples and followers joined him in his tears.

Thus ended a battle whose fortunes had been swaying dramatically to and fro for seven months and in which Hubbard, who seemed at one time to be the conquering hero, was ultimately vanquished, though, in the words of the famous Duke, "it was a damned near run thing."

On Corfu itself, permission had been given for a small rear party to remain behind, ostensibly to pay bills but with the main object of carrying out a post-mortem of what went wrong.

Two days after the dramatic departure, I was visited by a tearful youth named Richard Wriggley who claimed he had come to join the "Apollo", and asked whether I could throw any light on why the ship had left in such a hurry, as he had heard so many conflicting stories. Fortunately, I was able to provide him with a copy of El Ron's own printed explanation which was dished out to all the students and scientologists the world over. This hand-out, which is reproduced below, is one of the most astonishing and sinister facets of the whole remark able story. That three or four million puppets throughout the world, including the hundreds of scientologists on Corfu in front of whom the whole saga was enacted, could be expected to believe that this departure was due to the "situation in the Middle East" in preference to press reports throughout the world and the stark facts and evidence which stared them all in the face must surely be an example of unprecedented mass hypnotism. At the same time it demonstrates the enormous gulf between the simple-minded students and their guileful governors.






TELEX: 20515075

The explanation dished out by Hubbard
to his flock on being expelled from Corfu.

From the look on Richard Wriggley's face it was obvious that he was not an ordinary simple-minded scientologist and I marked him down as one of the Church engaged in carrying out a post mortem. In fact, he was more than just a coroner's nark and it was some ten years later that, by a most remarkable coincidence, I learnt of Richard Wriggley's boast that he had been employed by the scientologists to break into my office and my villa to seize any documents on scientology that he could find. He claims he could find no files on the subject but his accurate description of both premises and his method of entry leave no doubt that his boast was genuine.

The final summing up can be conveniently left to "The Times" of March 19th 1969:


"Mr. Lafayette Ron Hubbard, the founder of scientology, and a group of his followers, on board a ship which has been berthed off Corfu for the past seven months, have been declared personae non gratae and asked to leave. An announcement today by the prefect of the island gave the Scientologists until 8p.m. (1800 G.M.T.).

"About 200 scientologists, most of them United States citizens but also including some Britons, Australians and New Zealanders, have been living on board the 4,000-ton, black-painted ship. They have been spending the equivalent of about £1,000 a day. Alongside the Apollo are two auxiliary vessels used by the scientologists, and these have also been asked to leave. Police and security officials were today stationed near the three ships to ensure that they left within the time limit. Meanwhile, representatives of the cult went to see the prefect in an attempt to persuade him either to delay or to cancel the order.

"The presence of the scientologists has aroused controversy among the islanders. Bishop Polycarpos, Metropolitan of Corfu, said recently that he was worried about the spiritual influence the scientologists might exert."

One must hand it to the "Commodore", however, for having the last say. His parting broadside delivered from Saint Hill Manor paces him in a class of its own as a genius of audacious ingenuity.
"PRESS RELEASE regarding Mr. Hubbard and the Apollo's departure from Greece.

"Submitted by: The Public Relations Bureau,
Church of Scientology,
Saint Hill Manor,
East Grinstead,
29 April 1969

"Mr. Hubbard had been in Greece establishing a Greek Corporation to teach philosophy. False information about Hubbard was fed to the Greeks by a third party and they asked him to leave.

"Mr. Hubbard protested in a personal letter to the Deputy Prime Minister of Greece, Mr. Patakos.*

"When the Deputy Prime Minister learnt how he had been misled by lies and false reports made about Hubbard he was extremely annoyed and sent the following message, "My personal apologies to Mr. Hubbard for any unhappiness and upset caused and when you return I hope you will stay longer."

"Mr. Hubbard accepted the apology and the Prime Minister on learning this expressed his pleasure and immediately ordered all the papers concerning Mr. Hubbard's Corporation be sent to him personally so that he might get the matter corrected.

"In the interest of accuracy, you will no doubt wish to report this latest fact."

"With the compliments of
Public Relations Bureau,
Church of Scientology

* Patakos, now serving a life sentence for treason, is ironically also indicted in the current litigation along with the Greek State and the author.

Last updated 12 January 1997
Chris Owen (co@nvg.unit.no)