The Bare-Faced Messiah Interviews

Interview with Ken Urquhart,
Mclean, Virginia, Apr/May 86


Ken Urquhart was a young musician when he joined Scientology - not an unusual background - and soon moved up into the "OT élite", L. Ron Hubbard's Sea Org. His loyalty and discretion were rewarded by a promotion to the impressive-sounding post of "LRH Personal Communicator" - effectively, Ron's eyes and ears aboard the Sea Org's fleet of three ships. Over the next few years he was in closer contact with Hubbard than almost anybody else - he claims to have devised the infamous Rehabilitation Project Force, though Hubbard soon established this as a punishment régime - and saw some most peculiar things. Fortunately for posterity, he was interviewed in 1986 by the British writer and journalist Russell Miller for the unauthorised biography of L. Ron Hubbard, Bare-Faced Messiah. The following is the transcript of that interview.


I was born in 1938 in Wales, my family was Scottish. My father had been very active in a theosophical society in South Wales. A friend of my father wrote to me to say he had paid for me to take a Dianetic course over a weekend in London. I was studying music at Trinity College.

I was very impressed and thought what they were doing was very, very valuable. I thought the cobwebs had been swept out of my mind. I gave up my studies and started working for church in '64.

I first saw LRH at a meeting across from the London org at 37 Fitzroy St, at Mahatma Ghandi Hall on the corner of Fitzroy Square. He was giving a talk. I was outside when he arrived and was tremendously impressed. I was surprised at the intensity of his beingness. He was walking up the steps with Mary Sue, smiled very cordially, and said Hello. But he left an impression of overwhelming power. He was wearing a brown felt hat and a brown raincoat. He spoke on the subject of Help. I was still under his spell. It was crowded. with a very strong outflow from him. Later on I perceived that as you approached his body you entered his space, you were very much aware of being in his space, the space around his body that was his. This was in '59 or '60. He gave a couple more lectures at the Empire Hall further down Tottenham Court Rd.

By the early '60s I was auditing and visiting Saint Hill at weekends. I was still dabbling in music. I wasn't making enough to make ends meet so I would take jobs waiting at the table in restaurants. In '64 I was told the butler [at Saint Hill] had been fired, he had been caught stealing a camera, and he [Ron] asked me if I would help out. I would have done anything I could for Ron. I went down to St Hill, was interviewed by Ron's secretary, Irene Thrupp, then was introduced to Ron for the first time and was accepted. I arrived a week or two later and found myself having to cook as well because they didn't have a cook for a week. Eventually I was responsible for everything to do with the house.

He and Mary Sue worked mostly into the night, they'd go to bed very late, in the early hours of the morning. They would get up in the early afternoon. He would call down to the kitchen, I would be there. We had cooks come and go so generally speaking I was on my own. I cooked breakfast for the childrem at 8 and lunch at 12.30 and some time in the afternoon cook his breakfast and serve it At 5.30 a meal for the children in the afternoon, at 6.30 cook dinner for him and Mary Sue.

First I took up a cup of hot chocolate. He would be sitting at the table end of his 4-poster bed, in his bedroom on the first floor corner. It had a deep green carpet, russet curtains, white shutters. The bedspread was russet. He would drink chocolate and chat to me about anything - the latest news, the weather, his childhood, the latest goings on at Saint Hill, who was upsetting him, who was doing what wrong now, past lives, research. He was researching what eventually became the clearing course. The research was done like this. He put himself on the meter and looked how the reactive bank was made up on that level. He had theories, he would test them out and find what he was looking for. He was looking into his mind. He took it on himself to look within himself to find out how the reactive bank was made up so he could tell people what to do with their reactive bank.

He was working quite intensely. Once I interrupted him in his research room on the top floor above the bedroom. He normally did it before he called down for breakfast. He sat by himself with an E-meter.

Childhood: he talked about his mother, he said she was a very fine woman - educated - she had educated him. He talked about when she was in hospital, desperately ill; he got there just in time to tell her that what she should do was just leave the body, go down to the maternity ward and get another. He talked once about being at university where he had been to parties run by [inaudible] who were very much in control of what young people were doing. He always put out an image of being rather upper class, which he would betray now and again. For example, he tried to speak French with the most dreadful accent. He had little expressions he liked to use, like "volte face" but instead saying "volt feece" for some reason. "That was a very good bun mut" ("bon mot"). You couldn't laugh or say anything.

After drinking his chocolate he would have a bath, still chatting. At some time I'd extricate myself, rush downstairs and cook breakfast. Mary Sue had a separate bedroom but normally had her breakfast with him. They would have scrambled eggs, sausages, mushrooms and tomatoes.

After breakfast he would come down to his office, a beautiful office, at the front in the corner and start work. I would very rarely see him again until dinner time at 6.30, when I would have to have the table laid. The children ate at 5.30 with their nanny in a little dining room near the back door. The children lived in the [right] wing, formerly the servants' quarters. Each had a bedroom there.

At 6.25 I'd walk into his office with a jacket for him to wear to the table. After the children had bathed they would all sit together in the sitting room and watch TV for an hour or so. Then he and Mary Sue would return to work in separate offices. They drank coke with dinner, both smoked Kools. He had his Kools imported from the US - they had a particular tip he liked and he couldn't get in Great Britain. They spent most of their time working - there was very little socialising.

In '65 he was ill with very bad bronchitis and the doctor told him to lose weight and he went on a strict diet to the end of '65.

Mary Sue could be both very sweet and loving and quite cold. The first time I had contact with her was on my first Sunday, in the afternoon. I was about to prepare dinner and she came into kitchen and said not a word to me. I thought it was very strange. I never really knew where I stood with her. Once she yelled at me (on the ship) when Quentin was in some kind of trouble - he had been disciplined and Mary Sue thought I had something to do with it. She was fiercely protective of her children and really got mad.

In the early days at Saint Hill they seemed quite close. Sometimes when I went up I'd see her flitting back to her room in her nightie. She was in awe of him at times and there were other times when they had a little spat. The children were very nice. Arthur had problems because he was the youngest and the others were not too interested in playing with him. They had a lady tutor but after while went to school - the boys went to Fonthill across the road and the girls went - Diana was heavily into ballet lessons - at Evelyn Genet school.

One time in Dec '65 he was to make a clearing course film to explain what it was all about. He asked me to make sure the barber came in the early afternoon. By lunchtime I had forgotten it. I was looking for the chauffeur to go into town to get the barber. But I couldn't find the chauffeur. The old man rang down and asked where the barber was. I said I couldn't find the chauffeur and he got furious. He raised his voice. By the evening after the film was done he apologised for raising his voice.

Bronchitis. He had researched himself into grappling with some part of the reactive mind that was too much for him. He was brave enough to look at it, that was how he got bronchitis, that's how I rationalised it. He told me he'd had this trouble before and it was to do with auditing. Up to the summer of '65 there were about 30 people working at Saint Hill. In 1965 he devised the power processes and decided they would only be delivered at Saint Hill and had to build up the org to get people into Saint Hill and deliver the processes.

Up to mid-65, Saint Hill had had its ups and downs. I gathered from him that while he was doing his most intensive research in 63/64 he had other people running Saint Hill and it had gone into the red. In '65, when he started selling the power processes, he got a lot more money. He CS-ed [case supervised] my power processes. At the end of the day my folder was sent up to him. I was paid £12 a week plus room and board.

I was rushing around all day long and I loved it. He was very appreciative and that made a huge difference. I was sweeping floors, making beds, but I would not have done it for anybody else. I told him I got tired of making beds and he said fine and made me the "LRH Communicator" for Saint Hill. My main duty was to get compliance with what he ordered and advise him of situations needing his attention. I was the channel of communication between him and the org.

Dec 65 this was. I was on it 6-8 weeks. In Feb/Mar 66 he went to Rhodesia. Then I took over LRH Communications Worldwide until mid '66 when I was taken off. When he was away from Saint Hill his comm were given strict orders not to tell anyone he was away - he thought that if other orgs knew he was away then they would slack off, so we had to cover up, pretend he was still there. At this particular time, the first clear was produced, John McMaster, and others came. Each time a telegram was sent to him in Rhodesia and he would send a message back to me in code sending a Secretarial Executive Directive of congratulations. He sent the text in cable English so I re-wrote it. He found out I was altering his messages and had me removed.

At Saint Hill people were shocked that he had been kicked out. We all had to go to the airport to cheer his return. We went in coaches - one, possibly two. He came through Customs into the arrival hall and we all cheered like mad. We followed him out and he sat on the back of a yellow Pontiac coupe. He sat on the back and waved.

I was made director of communications, a much more junior post. One division of the org would create a tremendous amount of work for another division and each had to check on the other. He wrote a memo on how to care for cut flowers, how to polish his car; he used to publish such things frequently.

There were so many policies you could always find one to beat someone over the head.

On Boxing Day 66 I was made director of income for Saint Hill. Our statistics did very well, income was increasing steadily. I think it was £8-10,000 a week. We never had any proper bookkeeping, never any profit or loss statement. Money was banked and LRH kept his finger on the money in the bank accounts. He had weekly statistics and reports of gross income and bills paid. He kept track of all the money, in and out. I was on that for 3 months when he made another shake-up on his lines and in March '67 I was back on LRH Comm Saint Hill.

Within a few days of return from Rhodesia he came into the qualifications division, spotted me, walked over and shook my hand warmly and was very, very pleasant. That was not usual. He talked to other people, including the qualifications secretary who was suffering from cancer and told her there was nothing she should worry about because there was nothing that could be done and not to expect miracles.


I thought he had superhuman qualities although a lot happened that made me realise he was human. When I was his household officer I pointed out to him that people working at the manor left the back door open. As you come in the back door, close by was a staircase leading to the children's quarters. I was on the top floor and he was right at the front of the house. I was worried about it because the back door was open through the night and I told him I didn't think it was a good idea. He was very upset about it and told no of other people it was not nice I should have such a thought. because I put out the idea that the children would get harmed - it was a negative thought saying a bad thing might happen. because I had postulated such a thing once, it could be said you were likely to make it happen. About a week later he was talking about the back door and said it should be locked, because the children were so close. He was giving me back my origination as if it was his. It showed me he had a human side as well. Another time I had worked on holiday, Mary Sue told me to put in for extra wages but somehow I had got paid for a day extra which I forgot about and the next time the subject came up when I had to work another day off Mary Sue told me to put in for extra wages and so I told her I owed her a day's work. He gave me a sharp look and said thank you for getting off the withhold - Scientology for making a clean breast of things.

Scientology-speak was used all the time.

He was extremely critical of other people behind their backs. Most of us thought he was very unusual, a very great person working on a way to really help the world, and that excused him a tremendous amount.

Rhodesia. He inferred that the problem was he knew what to do about blacks in Rhodesia and they trusted him and he became very popular with them and the Government kicked him out because of that, they could not tolerate that. I also heard him say to Mary Sue that in Rhodesia he lost £200,000 through his lost investment.

THE SEA ORG. My first recollection was some activity to train people in seamanship. Some went down to the lake in little rubber dinghies and rowed about. It didn't make a lot of sense to me. He was in Spain while this was going on - in '67, after he got back from Rhodesia.

Early in 1965 he spent about 3 months in Spain. Early in 1966 he went to Rhodesia. Early in 1967 he was in Spain. Mary Sue stayed at Saint Hill - this was by March '67.

We bought the Avon River in Hull and she was fitted out and ferried out to Las Palmas in '67. Through '67, a number of staff at Saint Hill who had volunteered to join were taken away and no one knew where. In the summer of '67 he sent down a long memo to Saint Hill requiring the Church to buy Saint Hill Manor and his name. We had to send him £75,000 and out of that money he bought the Royal Scotsman. That began the build-up of the Sea Org.

He mocked it up [envisaged it] as an org superior and separate from the rest of the org. I thought he had created an undesirable schism. He always wanted one org to supervise another.

In '65 he started writing up his hat [job] and was very preoccupied with who should succeed him and ensure that the org continued in the way he wanted it to continue. Out of that arose research for power processing. The Sea Org was an effort to create a body that would take over from him. It had to be at sea because Scientology was unpopular in England, it was getting very bad PR and his permit to reside in the UK was revoked. When his permit was revoked he immediately considered it possible that Scientology would be asked to leave also. He was very worried about the unit administering the clearing course and he was working on how to save the clearing course unit. He thought he could put them all at sea in safety.

The first time he introduced [ethics] conditions was in early '65 - danger, emergency and normal. I got assigned emergency because I served him salmon that was not quite fresh. I was quite shocked. I had to go through a formula, write it up and submit it with an application for an upgrade.

Rag-wearing was initiated in the Sea Org and was initiated at Saint Hill in late '67. After emergency and danger, there were new ones under it: non-existence, liability, doubt, enemy, treason and confusion.

In July '68 I was made HCO Exec Sec WW. Anyone assigned a condition of treason has the right to ask for a committee of evidence. The penalty was to do 72 hours of labour without ceasing - he thought there were tremendous benefits.

"Green on white" was mimeo policy letters - very important statements of policy which had to be followed to the letter. "Red on white" were technical bulletins on how to run various processes; "blue on white" were direct commands from LRH.

In the lower conditions you were not allowed to go home, you had to stay on the property.

I arrived at the ship [Royal Scotman/Apollo] in Corfu in November '68. She was not very clean, had a black painted hull and a white superstructure, but was not in a bad condition. In March '68 I saw her in Valencia when I went out to do the 0T3 levels. The regime was strange. Almost as soon as I got on board I had to make up packs of documents that were sent to various authorities around the world to prove that WFMH [World Federation of Mental Health] and the NAMH [National Association of Mental Health] were a lot of crooks. I spent two days doing that. Then I did deck work, scrubbing the decks and cleaning the ballast tanks at the bottom of the ship. They had to be cement washed to hold fresh water.

The food was horrible. Then in filthy dungarees I was called into the office of Diana Hubbard and told I had to do a special project for her - indexing policy letters. When I was working on this project I was on deck immediately below his office and just by the stairs from Deck A up to the Promenade deck. His office was directly facing the stairs and the glass door was usually open and at least once a day he would be roaring - lose his temper so much he would be bellowing with rage. This was unusual for me - I had never seen him like that before. I had seen him shake with anger at Saint Hill but he contained it; on the ship he did not bother to contain it. He was becoming an autocrat.

Then I was made LRH Comm Apollo. One of my responsibilities was the engine room - if ever there was a strange noise, the old man always wanted to know what it was. Then I was Commodores Staff 7 (CS7). In February '69 he and Mary Sue and the personal staff spent a month ashore at Agadir in a hotel and during that time he envisaged another org, his personal office and made me his personal communicator in charge of the personal office. From March '69 he went back on the ship and from then until August '78 I was his personal communicator.

When I arrived I had to live in a dorm, smelly and badly ventilated. The crew ate in the aft lounge and collected food from the galley. Sometimes they ate in the sun on the aft poop deck.

Relations with the people of Corfu? The ordinary people, chandlers, suppliers and visitors were all very cordial. With officials in the city and the harbour officials, it was not so. We were kicked out. We were given 24 hours to get out by the harbour master.

When I arrived they were throwing people overboard. It was a regular routine. It was a ceremony. The crew would be mustered on the after well deck in morning to begin the day's work. Anyone to be thrown overboard would be called to the front and chaplain would be called to make some incantation about water washing away sins, and you would be picked up and tossed over. Two elderly people were thrown over and an old lady who could not swim had to put on a life jacket. It started with auditors being sent to ship for the class 8 course - two from every org - and if they goofed they were thrown over. We all had a tremendous belief that what he was doing would benefit the world. He was the leader, knew best and was mostly right. It was important he should do work well. He was also very good at scare tactics - he would say because the world is so insane it's more than likely to blow itself up with nuclear bombs. It's almost certain to do so unless we act first. He pushed that very, very hard. Another tactic was unless we do somethng about it the world is going to go into some kind of economic disaster - we have to make sure it doesn't. In '79 or '80 he issued a bulletin to do with the purification rundown and it started off saying that World War III is just around the corner.

From Corfu, we went to Cagliari in Sicily. We needed fuel and LRH decided that someone should go ashore to get fuel. When you arrived in the port you had to get health and customs clearance. We sat in the bay anchored and on LRH's orders a number of us, including me, got into a boat and went to a refinery to order oil. We got no oil and someone from the agent's office found we were on shore and raced out to where we were and sent us back to the ship. Next day we were cleared into port and got our oil. In those days there was a tremendous desire to meet the challenge and make it go right. If you were told to do something you had to make it go right. He wanted to go to Melila [a Spanish enclave in Morocco] but they wouldn't let us go in. We saw two Russian submarines making straight for Melila and he decided Melila didn't want us to know they had Russian subs and, and that's why they wouldn't let us in. So we went to Tangiers, then Sufi and Agadir and Dakar and Cape Verde.

First we went ashore in Agadir in February '69 for a month. The ship had to go to Lisbon for a refit in a dry dock. We stayed in a Moroccan hotel with an open courtyard and rooms off. There was one lav in the corner, just a hole in the ground. He had a villa somewhere else, so he wasn't in the hotel.

We were at sea and moving around so we would not be caught up with by journalists or governments or the WFMH or MAMH. He felt all these people were after him. Felt that if they found him they would cause him such trouble he would be unable to continue his work and Scientology would not get into the world and therefore there would be a nuclear holocaust and if not, financial and economic chaos.

In February '69 I became his personal communicator.


There was not a great deal of socialising. But he would frequently step out of his office and would say hello, stop and talk. He would frequently take walks along the promenade deck. Whenever he stopped a crowd would quickly surround him, people joining in. His working pattern was the same - he worked late into the night. When we had no set schedule, when we were not terribly sure where we were going next, he would collect everything together and send someone out to send mail and collect the incoming mail.

The destination would have to be somewhere we could collect mail, it had to be somewhere friendly. After 1970, we had to be careful of the amount of oil we used. We devised a system of triangular port [visits], then we would move to another triangle.

The hot pants and halter tops came in 73/4 after his year away from the ship.

There were periods when he didn't want any traffic during the day, he didn't want to be disturbed by anything. So if I sent in something it would cause an upset. Then it would change without warning and he'd send a messenger out asking for his traffic. One of the things I was supposed to do was weed out anything incomplete. Sometimes I would get something with info he had to have but it contained a problem. I didn't know what to do. I was always waiting for an explosion, although he very rarely lost his temper with me. There was a lot of tension, always the very real possibility that somebody would make such a mistake that would cause a flap that he would have to handle. Someone might upset the harbour master, someone might start a rumour on shore by saying the wrong thing in answer to a question. Someone might let slip something about Scientology, someone might ruin one of the generators. Some shit was always going to hit the fan every day, you could count on it and it would produce roars and hustle and bustle. I didn't like that. He could always find something to make a fuss about.

His uniform was a white or blue silk shirt and blue pants, black boots and gold lanyard. He usually wore a cravat, he had done for years. He had a naval officer's hat with a badge and lots of scrambled egg.

At Madeira he went ashore for a while. He went ashore at Curacao for a while. At Tangiers he went ashore for a few months, in early '72, but had to skip because he was going to be extradited. He had taken some people ashore and was trying to teach the Moroccan security police how to use an E-meter so they could catch traitors. I saw him doing that and saw who he sent out to put on the training team. I didn't see how it could possibly succeed, you can't monkey around with the secret police. He was looking for the possibility of looking for some country to welcome him, to keep him secure. He thought if he could get into favour with the secret police he would have the favour of King Hassan. It blew up in everybody's face. He was trying to teach the police how to find out if somebody had a crime using the -meter. It's not difficult to do if you know how to operate the E-meter, you can establish whether that person has done something wrong, what and when. I think the police being trained in the classroom were all right, but other people in the government found out and were terrified that their little things would be found out. It was done under the aegis of OTC or the American Institution of Human Engineering and Development. Scientology was never mentioned. I thought he was justified in doing what he was doing. He was doing very important work and I knew reports could bother him and governments were against him.

The messengers would vie with each other to perform little services. They had statistics like everyone else and would think of all the things to do that would get him to be pleased with them. So they were working busily on how they could serve him.

After his motorcycle accident he sat in his room in great pain. Bellows were coming out and messengers were the only ones allowed in. The messengers had to wash and feed him. This was in '73, early in the year. He was bellowing with pain and frustration, he kept finding out people were making mistakes. Messengers were running around all the time - they were happy to give him bad news. He sent Jill Goodman round to all the top executives saying the Commodore says that his officers are not making enough. She delivered the message to Mary Sue who promptly boxed her ears.

They were not encouraged to be promiscuous, Mary Sue wouldn't have it. She chased one guy off the ship with a knife because he'd messed around with one of the messengers in Morocco. It was very weird, they were not educated. He began to have less confidence in me after his return from the States and took the messengers from out of my control. He went through the usual thing - "I can't trust them, you help me." He gave them a lot more power.

You had to treat the messengers as though they were the Commodore.

NY trip. He had to leave Morocco, but couldn't stay in Europe because of the Paris case where he was charged with criminal offences and he was going to be extradited at time it blew up. I got a message on ship that I and John Bragon had to go to a hotel in Lisbon. He was there and said, "You have to get me out of here at once." That day we got him on a flight to New York. We booked him through to Chicago so people would think he was going to Chicago but he got off in NY.

He couldn't go back to the ship because it was in Lisbon doing another refit in dry dock. He could have been arrested on the ship because it was in port and couldn't put to sea. He was in a fix. He had flown from Morocco to Lisbon and then sent a message for me. In the hotel he was fairly relaxed and gave us a little lecture about safe spaces, a little briefing. He wasn't panicked. He left that day. He left in September '72 and came back in September '73.

Savage ethics were in during the earlier years, 67/8. It was less savage later.

You could be thrown overboard, put in a chain locker - either by yourself or with other people. I was told the people in chain locker were a fed from bucket of slops lowered down. I can easily imagine it.

The RPF [Rehabilitation Project Force] came into existence while he was in his cabin after the accident. A guy called Gary Watson, who was the port captain, sent in some kind of programme of action to the Commodore and the Commodore set up a unit to take care of rebellious people or those not fitting in. I set up the RPF but it became very much different from what I envisaged - which was a place where you could be removed from the stress and strains of bureaucracy, with some physical work every day to take their attention off themselves and in the other half of day they could audit each other on problems they had.

After the accident people were asking themselves why he was making such a fuss. Indeed, why was he in pain? The justification was again he was doing such an important job. He was going round a curve on a hill on his motorcycle. He got himself back to the ship and walked on board. He was very strong physically. He once told me on the ship that he had just pulled his own tooth.

I didn't always believe him, he wasn't infallible, had lapses of memory and there were times he couldn't be taken seriously. Not long after I became CS7 he found out they were hosing down the upper decks with fresh water and he thought that was terrible. He made us use sea water to wash down the wooden decks. Six months later he discovers they are using sea water and thinks it's insane. He blows up and says, why aren't you using fresh water? Something had happened to the electrical circuits because of corrosion from the sea water.

Now and again he would take over the supervising of case folders of people who were being auditied on the ship, either because he was doing some research and what to see exactly what was happening with what he had ordered to be done, or because he had found out there were some errors and people were not being handed correctly. Very often he'd be doing this after midnight and he'd call me in and chat away while he was going through the folders.

At Saint Hill he often talked about his track [past lives]. One he talked about more than once was the fact that on various planets he had hidden away treasure or was owed back pay. He talked about that more than once at Saint Hill and in '67 or '68 he had the Mission Into Time and what he was looking for was caches of stored treasure he had left behind. Now he has left money in trust with various people which he is going to come back and pick up in another lifetime.

I cannot accept the fact that he and other have lived before, many lifetimes, but part of his motivation is to come back and pick up his money. He definitely had tremendous abilities and skills in what he was doing, in this area of mental and spiritual abilities, very definitely superior.

I am convinced he believed it himself. I think he believed it was true, but one can make up things and believe they were true.


Last updated 10 Jan 1997