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Media Articles - 2000s

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20 June 2004
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Fears at intention of lecture on drugs

Kent and Sussex Courier (UK)
April 30, 2004

Fears have been sparked about the intentions of an anti-drugs talk in Markbeech after it turned out to be led by people with links to a controversial group. Geraldine Ormond, the organiser of the hour-long lecture last week, admitted she would not have got involved if she had known the main speaker was linked to the Church of Scientology.

However, she said the talk did not peddle the group's beliefs and only one leaflet which was handed out made reference to it. Scientologists insisted it was not a scientology event.

Villager Graeme Raeburn, 24, raised concerns after receiving one of Mrs Ormond's flyers advertising the anti-cannabis lecture, which was held in the village hall on Tuesday last week and attracted 80 people.

Although he did not attend the get-together, he told the Kent and Sussex Courier he was worried it was a recruitment drive for new members.

Scientology was formed in the 1950s by East Grinstead-based L Ron Hubbard. It is referred to by members as a religion specialising in the spiritual being but has been plagued by accusations of being a money-making cult.

The Markbeech talk was led by American Bobby Wiggins, who speaks for Narconon, a drug rehabilitation programme which employs the beliefs of scientology.

Mr Raeburn, a vice-president at the Royal College of Art Students' Union, said: "There have been a lot of controversial things they have been doing.

"The rehab involves complete surrender to the controlling people so effectively they are handing over their money and putting their complete belief into the Church of Scientology.

"In no way am I saying I am pro cannabis or any other drug, it is just the fact that when you look into it it's not all it seems." Mrs Ormond organised the lecture after missing one held in Forest Row earlier this month. She said: "Bobby did mention he works for or is involved with them but I didn't know anything of that when I organised the talk. There was no brainwashing and it was not a recruitment drive, it was purely educational." Scientologist Maryanne Hunter, 43, was also at the talk. She said: "It had nothing to do with scientology, all it had to do with was the community. Scientology is not bad, it is just a group of people who want to help."