The Dumbleton - Powles Report



On 28 June 1968 a petition signed by F. P. O'Donnell and 715 others was presented to Parliament, and by it referred to the Select Committee on Social Services. The petitioners requested that a Board of Inquiry be set up to investigate the present activities, methods, and purposes of the Hubbard Association of Scientology in New Zealand. They also prayed certain courses of legislative action. After hearing a substantial volume of evidence the committee reported to the House on 7 November 1968 recommending that the prayer for a Board of Inquiry be referred to the Government for MOST FAVOURABLE CONSIDERATION, and added:
(1) Not wishing to curtail freedom of association or to impede the free flaw of ideas, the committee is reluctant to suggest that any movement be outlawed or that meetings of any groups of people be banned, but sufficient has been heard to indicate some action should be taken in connection with the activities and methods of Scientology.

(2) Conscious of the need for being well informed before final decisions are taken, the committee finds that more detailed inquiry is needed; and that this be treated as a matter of urgency.

(3) In response to the first prayer of the petition the committee emphasises hat such further inquiry should not be restricted or confined to the "Hubbard Association of Scientology in New Zealand", but should be broad enough to include all aspects of the Scientology movement.

In view of the comprehensive nature of the inquiry it recommended, the committee considered that any action in respect of the other prayers of the petition would follow from and be consequential to the findings of that inquiry.

The committee's recommendation was agreed to by the House. The Government considered the report of the committee and by Order in Council of 3 February 1969 set up this commission.

A. Preliminary to the Inquiry

(1) Public Notification

The order of reference and the opening (of the inquiry in Auckland on 18 March 1969 were publicly notified throughout New Zealand


in mid February, and persons wishing to give evidence or to make representations were requested to advise the secretary by no later than 28 February 1969, indicating the nature of their evidence or representations. In addition the resumption of the inquiry in Wellington on 30 April was similarly advertised.

(2) Replies Received

As a result of such advertisements, 51 persons wrote to the commission, and their replies fall into the following categories:

(a) Offers to Give Evidence

These totalled 24, of which 18 were accepted and 6 declined; 3 on the grounds that the proposed evidence was outside the order of reference and 3 because it was already being covered by other persons. (b) Order of Reference

Where interested persons expressed a willingness to give evidence a copy of the order of reference was forwarded to them. It was pointed out that any evidence considered by the commission to be outside the scope of the inquiry would have to be excluded and that persons wishing to give evidence should satisfy themselves on this point. Some of those so informed did not proceed any further with their application to give evidence.

(c) Forwarding Comments, Views, Literature, etc., but not offering to give evidence, 25.

(d) Subject matter outside order of reference, 2.

(e) Connections with Scientology and Attitudes thereof

Of the 51 writers, 6 were ex-Scientologists, 37 had not been actively connected therewith, and in 8 cases it was not possible to classify accurately. Two of the writers were in favour of Scientology, 40 were against, and the attitudes of 9 were indeterminate.

(3) Subpoenas

Fifteen subpoenas requiring attendance and one requiring the production of documents were served on behalf of the commission.

In addition, seven subpoenas were prepared at the request of counsel for the O'Donnells and others, but he decided subsequently not to serve them.


(4) Appointments

After the issue of the warrant of 3 February 1969, the following appointments were made:

(a) Counsel Assisting Commission Mr G. S. Orr of the Crown Law Office, Wellington, was appointed to assist the commission. His functions broadly were to advise and aid persons wishing to give evidence but who were not represented by counsel, to lead such witnesses as he thought fit, and generally to assist the commission.

(b) Secretary Mr R. Buist of Wellington was appointed secretary.

(5) Evidence in Camera

Some requests were received to be allowed to give evidence in camera. The persons concerned were asked to say what was the special reason for this request, and were told that, if the commission was satisfied that the reason was valid, it would be prepared to exclude the public and press during the submission of the particular evidence. It was pointed out, however, that the representatives of the organisation and any other interested persons could not be excluded. The persons so informed either agreed to give evidence in public or decided not to give evidence at all, with the rest that all evidence was given in public.

B. Public Sittings

(1) Sittings

The commission commenced its sittings in Auckland, on 18 March 1969, adjourned on Wednesday, 26 March, and resumed in Wellington, on 30 April, on which day the public hearings finished. The commission sat for a total of 8 days.

All sittings were open to the public, representatives of the press, and the Broadcasting Corporation, and all the evidence was on oath.

(2) Counsel

In addition to Mr Orr, the following counsel appeared--

Mr F. H. Haigh assisted by Mr R. A. Adams-Smith, both of Auckland, for the Scientology organisation.

Mr K. Ryan of Auckland for Mr and Mrs O'Donnell and others.

(3) Witnesses

In all, 27 witnesses appeared (see appendix I), and of these 9 were called by counsel assisting the commission, 6 by counsel representing the Scientology organisation, and 12 by counsel representing Mr and Mrs O'Donnell and others. Six gave evidence in


favour of Scientology, 17 against, and 4 made depositions of a general nature.

(4) Verbatim Record

A verbatim record of proceedings totalling approximately 650 pages was taken, and the transcript was distributed progressively during the course of the hearings to the various counsel, the press, and the Broadcasting Corporation. In addition, the General Assembly Library has been provided with two complete sets.

(5) Exhibits

A quantity of material (see appendix II), comprising documents, books, publications, brochures, pamphlets, policy, and other letters, ethics orders, disconnecting notices, etc., totalling 191 separate items, was produced during the inquiry.

C. Statements by Commission

At the opening of the session in Auckland the chairman of the commission made the following statement:
At the outset of these hearings the commission wishes to declare its intention that they shall be confined to the order of reference which the secretary has just read. The commission is concerned only to hear about and examine cases where it is said that Scientology has in New Zealand led to the estrangement of families, affected the control of persons under 21, or put unreasonable pressure upon former Scientologists who have left it, or other persons.

The commission particularly wishes to emphasise two matters: First, the inquiry is not in general to extend to or include any inquiry into the "philosophy, teachings or beliefs" of Scientology. Secondly, it is to concern itself with the "activities, methods, and practices of the Hubbard Scientology Organisation in New Zealand". It follows from this that happenings overseas, or opinions formed after reading or hearing about them in general, have no relevance to the purposes of this inquiry. Some of the persons who signified their desire to give evidence to the commission were either unaware of or they misunderstood the advertised terms of reference, and for that reason it was necessary to notify them that they could not be called.

At the same time the commission states that although it was necessary for the purpose of organising this hearing to ask persons wishing to give evidence to notify the commission by 28 February, it is neither the desire nor the intention that anybody with relevant evidence to give should be excluded. Any such persons wishing to give evidence may still do so, provided only that the secretary is notified promptly, so that arrangements may be made for him or her to appear at these hearings or possibly at hearings elsewhere.

Finally the commission hopes it will be clearly understood that its findings will be based upon the evidence given in this inquiry, and not upon what the commission may or may not have read in the press, or in the various Scientology and other publications available in New Zealand. For instance, the commission has not read the official record -- a somewhat incomplete one, I am informed -- of the evidence given before the parliamentary select committee last year, although the record is available to persons interested. If any of this material, whether select committee evidence or otherwise, is considered by any person interested to be relevant to his inquiry, then steps should be taken to bring it formally before the commission in the proper way.

At the resumed sitting in Wellington, the chairman said:
The inquiry is being resumed here, after having been adjourned from Auckland, for its concluding stages. The date and place of hearing was duly advertised so that there would be ample opportunity for any further witnesses to come forward should they so desire, but no witnesses able to give evidence within the terms of reference have made any such application. So we will proceed with the concluding matters left over from Auckland, which, as far as the commission understands, involves the production of certain documents by Lady Hort.


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