Mayor Bans Scientology Rally
Evening Standard, London
by Hugh Muir
August 31, 2001
Ken Livingstone has banned Scientology - the religious movement endorsed by some of the world's top personalities - from campaigning in Trafalgar Square.
The Mayor has launched a scathing attack on the group after rejecting its application to hold an event to promote its controversial anti-drugs programme.
The promotion should have taken place today and would have included music from a swing band as well as testimonies from people who claim to have been cured of their drug addictions by methods pioneered by Scientology's founder L Ron Hubbard. Among the groups most high-profile supporters are actors John Travolta and Tom Cruise, and Lisa Marie Presley.
In 1984 during a High Court child custody case, Mr Justice Latey branded the Scientologists "corrupt, sinister, immoral and dangerous".
Announcing his decision, Mr Livingstone said: "I have refused permission for the Church of Scientology to use Trafalgar Square to promote their so-called 'anti-drugs' campaign because it is a medically unproven policy which I am advised could be dangerous.
"The square will be used for many purposes whilst I am Mayor, including many political demonstrations and rallies which I will disagree with. However, it would not be responsible for me to allow it to be used to advertise a spurious medical programme which many drugs professionals are concerned about.'
He added: "Nothing about the activities of this group leads me to believe that this is anything other than a cynical method of promoting the Scientology creed. I would urge Londoners not to be duped by their expensive campaigning."
But a Scientology spokesman hit back immediately, saying the Mayor had been given misleading information about the group and its work. He said: "If he spoke to some of the people who have done the programme, and if he saw the change in them, he would think differently."
There are believed to be 100,000 Scientologists in Britain and eight million worldwide.
The movement was founded by Hubbard, an American comic book [sic] and science fiction writer in 1954.