The Dumbleton - Powles Report



In coming to its conclusions on the evidence, the commission has been conscious of the fact that the only oral evidence given to it by or on behalf of Scientology was that of Sir James Hort and Lady Hort. Sir James Hort's evidence covered quite a narrow field, and he did not attempt to speak with authority as one familiar with all aspects of the organisation. Lady Hort was Scientology's main and more important witness, and it was through her that all the various Scientology documents were produced. From the commission's point of view, there were lamentable gaps in her knowledge. She had become a member of the Scientology staff only in November 1966, and then presumably in a comparatively junior position, for she worked in the evenings only. In November 1967 she left for England for training at Saint Hill Manor, and hid not return to Auckland until July of 1968. She was appointed Assistant Guardian in November 1968, and this position she had when she was giving evidence to the Commission.

Lady Hort's knowledge of the activities and operations of the organisation in Auckland was not nearly as extensive as the commission would have liked. She was unable to throw any light, from the point of view of Scientology, on the events associated with any of the specific cases which came up for consideration by the commission. Nor was evidence offered on behalf of Scientology from any of the persons who were in senior positions in her absence abroad or were in charge of the organisation in Auckland at the relevant and material times for the purpose of considering these various cases. It was indeed said that some of these officials were no longer in New Zealand. However that may be, the Commission decided that it must seek to reach conclusions on the evidence before it, and if this evidence led it to conclusions unfavourable to Scientology, which Scientology might assert were not in accordance with the facts, then Scientology had only itself to blame, because it did not give to the Commission its evidence on these facts.

It may be thought that the number of cases coming specifically under the terms of reference and concerning which evidence was given before the commission was surprisingly small. It is true that here were only three cases of substantive value from which clear conclusions could be drawn, and it has been suggested on behalf of Scientology that these were exceptional, that they were the outcome of mistakes, and that they could not happen again. The commission, however, felt that it was entitled to consider not only the specific evidence concerning these cases, but also all the relevant evidence, documentary and otherwise, and to draw from this evidence the conclusion that the specific cases were examples of definite trends, patterns, and attitudes in the activities, methods, and practices of the organisation of Scientology.


(a) Estrangements in Family Relationships

From the discussion of the evidence it will be seen that the commission has concluded that there was clear proof of the activities, methods, and practices of Scientology in New Zealand contributing to estrangements in family relationships. In the O'Donnell case it could almost be said that Scientology "caused" the estrangement between Noel and his parents; it certainly contributed to it in a substantial manner. It also contributed substantially to the estrangement between Erin and her parents. This contribution was made not only in the production of anti-parental attitudes but also by the official act of the organisation in declaring the parents to be suppressive persons. This declaration was followed by the sending 6 disconnecting letters to Mr and Mrs O'Donnell by a large number of Scientologists, of most of whom they had no previous knowledge. It was also followed by the particularly vicious disconnecting letter written by Linklater and already quoted. There were also a suppressive person declaration and disconnecting letters in the Morris case.

It seems clear that at some stage in the course of its operations in New Zealand Scientology did actively contemplate interfering with familial relations in such a way as to induce trainee Scientologists to disconnect from close relatives who were considered by Scientology to be acting in the role of suppressive persons. HCO policy letter of 23 December 1965 on "Suppressive Acts" has, the commission was informed, been cancelled, but the date of cancellation was not given. This policy letter may or may not have been actually in force at the time of the O'Donnell and Morris cases, but in any case its spirit seems to have been applied to them. In a significant passage it says:

A Scientologist connected by familial or other ties to a person who is guilty of Suppressive Acts is known as a Potential Trouble Source or Trouble Source. The history of Dianetics and Scientology is strewn with these. Confused by emotional ties, dogged in refusing to give up Scientology, yet invalidated by a Suppressive Person at every turn they cannot, having a PTP, make case gains. If they would act with determination one way or the other - reform the Suppressive Person or disconnect - they could then make gains and recover their potential. If they make no determined move, they eventually succumb.

Therefore this Policy Letter extends to suppressive non- Scientology wives and husbands and parents, or other family members or hostile groups or even close friends. So long as a wife or husband, father or mother or other family connection, who is attempting to suppress the


Scientology spouse or child, or hostile group remains continuingly acknowledged or in communication with the Scientology spouse or child or member, then that Scientologist or preclear comes under the family or adherent clause and may not be processed or further trained until he or she has taken appropriate action to cease to be a Potential Trouble Source.

The validly of this policy is borne out by the fact that the US Government raids and other troubles ware instigated by wives, husbands or parents who were actively suppressing a Scientologist, or Scientology. The suppressed Scientologist did not act in good time to avert the trouble by handling the antagonistic family member as a suppressive source or disconnect fully.

Disconnection from a family member or cessation of adherence to a Suppressive Person or Group is done by the Potential Trouble Source publicly publishing the fact, as in the legal notices of 'The Auditor' and public announcements and taking any required civil action such as disavowal, separation or divorce and thereafter cutting all further communication and disassociating from the person or group.

From this passage alone it could well be argued that Scientology did in fact contribute to family estrangements because it actively posed a choice between Scientology and familial ties, if the latter were adverse to Scientology. Given the active tactics employed by Scientology "to get he show on he road and keep it going", it is obvious that cases could arise where persons were under active pressure to break completely from their spouses or parents - whether rightly or wrongly is another matter. The commission is satisfied that such cases did occur in New Zealand, and concludes without hesitation that the activities, methods, and practices of Scientology have contributed to estrangements in family relationships.

It appeared to the commission that the attitude of Scientology towards family relationships was cold, distant, and somewhat uninterested. In a number of the cases of which he commission was informed it must have been apparent to the Scientology organisation, or at least to some of the officers concerned, that family relationships were being subjected to strain and could possibly be damaged by continuation of a course in Scientology. There is no evidence in any of these cases that Scientology or any of its officers took any steps to remedy or alleviate this situation. It was particularly noticeable to the commission that the Scientology organisation, at any rate during the times material to this inquiry, took no steps whatever to prevent any estrangement occurring between the O'Donnell children and the rest of the family.

Lady Hort, as the principal witness for Scientology, had no personal knowledge of the O'Donnell case until very late in its history, when Erin and Noel had already left New Zealand, but it is obvious that Morgan, with whom Noel had been staying in


Auckland, must have known all about it. Morgan later left for England, and it is believed that it was because he was at Saint Hill Manor that Erin and Allen proposed to go there and make contact with him. In any event, it now appears that Morgan at that stage must have been important in the organisation, and is now apparently very much more so, being one of the three members of the Executive Council, World Wide, and one of the members of the Board of Directors of the Church of Scientology. No evidence was called before the Commission to rebut the obvious presumption that must be made in such circumstances.

The commission was informed that the practice of disconnection was cancelled by directive of 15 November 1968, and the commission received, as has already been mentioned, a letter from L. Ron Hubbard stating that the Board of Directors of the Church of Scientology had no intention of reintroducing the policy. He also added that, for his part, he could see no reason why the policy should ever be reintroduced. The letter is on page 27.

This undertaking does not, in its terms, go as far as the commission had hoped. It had hoped that there would be a direct undertaking by L. Ron Hubbard that the practice of disconnection would never be reintroduced. However, the intention appears to be there, although it is stated in somewhat guarded language. The commission naturally welcomes this undertaking, and believes that if it is fully observed in its intent and spirit it may have an important effect on the relations between Scientology and the public in New Zealand, and particularly by removing one of the important practices which contributed to family estrangement.

There still remains the issue of Suppressive Person orders. The commission believes that when these orders are issued against one member of the family in respect of the scientological connections of anther member, they cannot do other than contribute to family estrangements. If the changed attitude of Scientology means that such suppressive orders will not be issued in future, but that these cases will be dealt with by "handling", then again the commission feels that much good may result.

The attitude of Scientology towards young people under the age of 21 and with reference to their parents necessarily bears upon family relations. This will be discussed under the heading associated with subclause (b) of the terms of reference, and the question of disconnecting letters will be discussed further under subclause (c).

However, as far as concerns subclause (a) the commission concludes that it is not necessary or expedient at present for existing


legislation to be amended. It has come to this conclusion for two reasons:

  1. It dislikes adding to the body of statute law which restricts personal activities for social reasons.
  2. It has been markedly influenced by what it believes to be a distinct change not only in the activities, method, and practices of Scientology but also in the outlook of the organisation. Its founder and head, in his HCO policy direction of 7 March 1969, has this to say:
    We are going in the direction of mild ethics and involvement with the Society.... The policy which cancels the condition of disconnection, the cancellation of the fair game law, cancellation of Sec. checks and no records allowed of confessional materials plus the new Code of a Scientologist have accomplished every reform suggested to us.

    Let's get the show on the road.

    If at any time it were to appear that this change had been reversed or that some of the old and objectionable practices had been revived, then the Government should, if an important social evil were found to be occurring, take note and consider what steps might be necessary.

(b) Control of Persons under 21

As to subclause (b) of the terms of reference, the commission first wishes to draw attention to the existing law relating to the custody or control of children or persons under he age of 21 years. In the summary quoted earlier in this Report it is stated: "... thus, while as a matter of law the parents of a child remain its guardians until it turns 21 or sooner marries, they cannot, save in exceptional circumstances and then only if the child is under 18, enforce their rights as guardians after it reaches the age of 16 . .."

It will be seen that "as a matter of law" parents of a child who has attained the age of 16 years have very few rights. Nevertheless the commission is again definitely of the opinion that Scientology has affected the custody or control of children or persons under the age of 21 years, and it has done so in the sense and in the respects mentioned when discussing the evidence above. It has done so possibly because of what was admitted to be a mistake in the application of the rules of the organisation, which, he commission was told, provide that no person under the age of 21 may be audited or processed without the consent of a parent or a guardian.

The commission regards this rule as insufficient because the legal guardian of a person under the age of 21 are normally both parents. It therefore considers that no auditing or processing of a person under


the age of 21 should be undertaken without the express written consent of both parents, which consent should in terms refer specifically to the courses to be undertaken and approve the payment of the appropriate fees therefor. To process a young person with the consent of only one parent, when the issue of Scientology is a divisive influence in the family home, is only to contribute further to family estrangement.

Furthermore, the commission was disturbed by the evidence give of the auditing and processing of comparatively young children, even with their parents' consent. This must be a practice to be used with extreme caution and to be consented to only by parents who know full well what they are doing - for example, Sir James and Lady Hort when they consented to the auditing of one of their young children.

The commission was also disturbed at what appeared to be the practice of trainee auditing. In order to learn how to be an auditor the trainee had to practise auditing, and this practising was sometimes carried out on student Scientologist without fee. It seemed that a certain air of irresponsibility had crept into this practice of trainee auditing, and might have been the cause of the so-called "mistakes" which occurred in the O'Donnell case. The commission was informed by Sir James Hort that a person under the age of 21 (or even in one case, 16 or 17), could be fully trained to become an auditor and, if properly trained, could be a very good one. This may be so, but if it involves the young person practising upon other young persons, then the commission feels that persons under the age of 21 should not be trained to be auditors.

Influenced again by what has been said about the change in the practices of Scientology, and by the admission that mistakes have been made, the commission is not prepared to recommend that changes in the existing law are necessary or expedient.

It will be understood that the commission's reference to the age of 21 years is derived from its terms of reference, but in substance and for the future it must be understood to refer to the particular age that is adopted by the Legislature as being the age of majority.

(c) Improper or Unreasonable Pressures

The discussion of the evidence has already indicated the commission's clear opinion that the activities, methods, and practices of Scientology did result in persons being subjected to improper or unreasonable pressures. Here again the question is whether official assurance of the abandonment of the practice of disconnection, and the philosophy associated with it, will lead to a substantial improvement in the practices of Scientology in this respect. If this is not so,


then again the Government may have to consider whether, for example, it might be expedient to make it an offence to send through the post letters of the deliberately offensive and insulting nature of some of the disconnecting letters that have been referred to in this report. The general protection offered by the law of defamation and the law of blackmail is, the commission.feels, adequate to deal with most situations under this head; but here again, if some of these former practices are reverted to, it may be necessary to consider legislation requiring a more substantial legal entity than is now in evidence in the case of Scientology.


It will be seen, therefore, that while the commission has in effect found against Scientology on all three heads of the terms of reference, yet it is prepared, relying on Lady Hort's candour and co-operation and upon the evidence of the changed outlook on the part of Scientology, to make no recommendations about the necessity or expediency of legislation change at this stage. The commission feels that for the future Scientology should regard as indispensable certain rules of practice. These are:
  1. No reintroduction of the practice of disconnection.
  2. No issue of Suppressive Person or Declaration of Enemy orders by any member to any other member of a family.
  3. No auditing or processing or training of anyone under the age of 21 without the specific written consent of both parents; such consent to include approval of the fees (which shall be specified) to be charged for the course or courses to which the consent is applicable.
  4. A reduction to reasonable dimensions of "promotion" literature sent through the post to individuals, and prompt discontinuance of it when this is requested.
If Scientology in New Zealand has regard to these rules of practice no further occasion for Government or public alarm should arise in respect of those of its manifestations with which this inquiry was concerned.


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