The hidden story of Scientology - England: The Scramble for Stones
It has long been the boast of the British that England is the Mother of Parliaments; and, indeed, they have good cause for pride.
Yet, one wonders why, in 700 years, so little has been done to place the sacred power of Parliament beyond the reach of selfish politicians and autocratic Ministers, who often enlist it in the service of influential vested interests.
We have witnessed a particularly flagrant example of such subversion in the Victorian Parliament’s action to defeat the ends of justice by passing a retroactive law that would block the fair hearing of a case pending in the High Court.
Far from censuring their opposite numbers in Australia, the honourable members in England cited the Melbourne inquisition as proof that Scientology was a social menace, requiring similar harsh measures in the United Kingdom.
The attack on Scientology in Britain did not reach the House of Commons until February 7, 1966, when Lord Balniel, MP, chairman of the National Association for
Mental Health, put down a question in which he asked Kenneth Robinson, the then Minister of Health: „In view of the scathing criticism by an official board of enquiry in Australia into the so-called practice of Scientology, surely the Rt. Hon. Gentleman considers it is in the public interest to hold a similar type of enquiry in this country?“
The Rt. Hon. Gentleman (himself a former officer of the NAMH) replied that he was prepared „to consider any demand for an enquiry“, but that no such demand had been made prior to that time.
„I am aware,“ he added, „that extravagant claims are made on behalf of Scientology, which are not generally accepted, and for my part, I would advise anyone who is considering a course of this kind to go to his doctor first.“
This brief exchange was a curtain-raiser for the Parliamentary performance that was to follow – a performance carefully stage-managed by directors of the mental health movement and based upon the Melbourne scenario, which they regarded as a masterwork. They had pounced upon the Anderson Report with the delight of a burglar who finds a window open.
Health Minister Robinson was well-suited to his role both by birth and by experience. His father had been a doctor and his mother a nurse. Prior to assuming his Ministerial responsibilities, he had been prominently active in NAMH affairs, chairing various committees and serving as the association’s vice-president.
In 1960, Robinson had made an extensive, NAMH sponsored study-tour of mental institutions in Holland, France, the United States and Russia.
The Travelling Fellowship which provided for the expenses Robinson incurred on his trip and paid him a fee of Â£752 for handling the assignment, merits a brief examination.
On June 16, 196o, a New York law firm wrote William T. Beatty II, president of the World Federation for Mental Health, stating that they represented the Bruern
Foundation, which was desirious of making a contribution of £2,ooo to the NAMH in England „for its general purposes“.
„It had been suggested,“ the letter continued, „that this contribution might be made through your organization. The thought was that either you might remit the sum directly to the English organization or by making funds available to it in this country accomplish the same result.“
The letter was not entrusted to the mails, but was delivered to the WFMH offices by messenger.
But why all the hugger-mugger? If the Bruern Foundation wanted to contribute £2,ooo to the English mental health group, why was it necessary to funnel the money in CIA fashion through another organization?
Perhaps a partial answer to that question may be found in the identity and tax-status of the Bruern Foundation itself. At the time of the donation, the Foundation had applied to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service for tax exemption but had not received it. Subsequent investigation revealed that the Foundation (which has never, so far as I can determine, been listed in any directory of American foundations) was established by a member of the Astor family who was a British subject with business assets in the U.S.
The task of effecting transfer of the £2,ooo was referred to Jonathan Bingham, counsel for the WFMH, who in turn passed it on to J. R. Rees, the world organization’s director in Great Britain. Dr. Rees arranged for the money to be sent to Mary Applebey, general secretary of the National Association for Mental Health, in London.
The lurid charges against Scientology contained in the Anderson Report were not, in themselves, sufficient to raise the wind in England.
While the report provided provocative copy for the press (it was referred to in the British media 278 times in the space of five months), it would be necessary to discover
tracks of the cloven hoof nearer home to produce the proper frisson among the Honourable Members.
In the latter part of August 1966, the Daily Mail made straight the way for certain MPs once again to raise the question of an inquiry into Scientology.
The newspaper published a lengthy article under the heading The Case of the Processed Woman, concerning a young woman who had been compulsorily detained in a mental ward after having been associated with Scientologists at Saint Hill Manor in East Grinstead.
The thirty-year-old woman had been in and out of mental hospitals (those „nurseries of insanity“, as John Reid called them), since she was nineteen. It can therefore be assumed that psychiatric treatments had done for her before she ever met the Australian Scientologist who, on his own initiative, introduced her to Scientology. Nevertheless, the published account placed the blame for her mental breakdown upon Scientology processing.
The story was not, as the Daily Mail held out, the result of a thoroughgoing probe into the affair by its nose-to-the-trail investigative reporters. It was, rather, based upon information made available to the paper by the patient’s mother (a certified Communist), who was willing to expose the personal details of her helpless daughter’s condition in the public prints in order to „get“ Scientology.
In a face-saving note at the end of the account, the newspaper declared: „The Daily Mail publishes the patient’s name with the support and approval of her family who feel that the practices of Scientology should be made fully public.“
Mary Applebey, general secretary of the National Association for Mental Health, was quoted in the Processed Woman story as saying, „Now the time has come when there should be a Ministerial inquiry.“
It was like pressing the button to release jack-in-the-box. Up popped Peter Hordern, Conservative member from Horsham, to demand that the Health Minister, Kenneth
Robinson, initiate „an inquiry into the practice known as Scientology“.
In a written answer, the minister said he did not think any further inquiry was necessary to establish that the activities of that organization were potentially harmful.
Actually, there was not yet enough „evidence“ to sustain even a loaded-dice inquiry such as that staged in Melbourne. Accordingly, no move was made to set up formal hearings. Instead, Robinson limited his attack to a public denunciation, apparently hoping that the mentalhealth Amalekites would leave it at that.
A few months later, however, the Hon. Mr. Hordern took the floor just before midnight to make Scientology the subject of the motion for adjournment. He recalled that he had asked the Minister of Health on December 5 last to hold an inquiry into Scientology.
At that time he went on, the Minister’s reply was quite unsatisfactory because „it completely ignored the considerable body of evidence that had been laid before him by myself and others, and the great weight of evidence produced by the State of Victoria Commission, upon the evil nature of this organization“.
Hordern, then, „with the express permission of her mother“, recounted in detail once more the story of the „processed woman“. He followed that dramatic account with a lengthy recital of findings from the Anderson Report, and ended with yet another appeal for a full inquiry into Scientology at the earliest possible date.
Mr. Geoffrey Johnson Smith (Conservative, East Grinstead) assured the House members that he had received information (source and kind not disclosed) „which would indicate that the case which we heard from my Hon. Friend the Member from Horsham, is not an isolated example, information which would add substance to the arguments which have been put forward“.
Health Minister Kenneth Robinson still did not feel enough solid ground under his feet to proceed with a
full-dress inquiry. Once again deploring Scientologists who „direct themselves deliberately towards the weak, the unbalanced, the immature, the rootless and mentally or emotionally unstable“, the Minister said he was nevertheless still opposed to an inquiry. He added:
„I have not had evidence that Scientology has been directly and exclusively responsible for mental breakdown or physical deterioration in its adherents in this country. I nevertheless intend to go on watching the position.“
If more evidence were needed, Scientology’s adversaries were resolved, in one way or another, to supply it. A brief article in the spring 1968 edition of Mental Health informed that publication’s readers that „the chief, long-standing opponent of Scientology, Mr. Peter Hordern, Conservative MP for Horsham, is beginning to agitate for a public enquiry again. He has received many letters from disenchanted members – many too frightened to put a signature to what they write.“
These poison-pen missives, including the many anonymous ones, were duly passed along to the Minister of Health to become part of what the Hon. Gentleman later described as „a considerable body of evidence about the activities of the cult in this country“, but which he never exposed to public scrutiny.
The continuing pressure built up at the Ministries of Health, of Education and Science, and at the Home Office, eventually resulted in administrative action against the Scientologists. On July 25, 1968, in response to Mr. Johnson Smith’s question in the House as to what action he proposed to take concerning Scientology, Kenneth Robinson replied:
„The Government are satisfied, having received all the available evidence, that Scientology is socially harmful. It alienates members of families from each other and attributes squalid and disgraceful motives to all who oppose it; its authoritarian principles and practice are a potential menace to the personality and well-being of those so deluded as to
become its followers; above all, its methods can be a serious danger to the health of those who submit to them. There is evidence that children are now being indoctrinated.
„There is no power under existing law to prohibit the practice of Scientology; but the Government have concluded that it is so objectionable that it would be right to take all steps within their power to curb its growth.
„It appears that Scientology has drawn its adherents largely from overseas, though the organisation is now making intensive efforts to recruit residents of this country. Foreign nationals come here to study Scientology and to work at the so-called College in East Grinstead. The Government can prevent this under existing law (the Aliens Order), and have decided to do so. The following steps are being taken with immediate effect:
The Hubbard College of Scientology, and all other Scientology establishments, will no longer be accepted as educational establishments for the purpose of Home Office policy on the admission and subsequent control of foreign nationals;
Foreign nationals arriving at United Kingdom ports who intend to proceed to Scientology establishments will no longer be eligible for admission as students;
Foreign nationals who are already in the United Kingdom, for example, as visitors, will not be granted student status for the purpose of attending a Scientology establishment;
Foreign nationals already in the United Kingdom for study at a Scientology establishment will not be granted extensions of stay to continue those studies;
Work permits and employment vouchers will not be issued to foreign nationals (or Commonwealth citizens) for work at a Scientology establishment;
Work permits already issued to foreign nationals for work at a Scientology establishment will not be extended.“
This announcement was made at the final session of Parliament before adjournment for holidays. It thus precluded any adequate deliberation or debate by the members on the issue. Furthermore, sufficient hard evidence to support such a drastic measure had not been presented.
It was all shamelessly unfair, and the more responsible elements of the British press began to smell a rat. These knights of the ballpoint lance did not care what happened to Scientologists (indeed, it was largely with their assistance that the situation was what it was), but they suddenly came to their senses long enough to realize that the arrogant and arbitrary exercise of power by Government administrators threatened not only the freedom of Scientologists, but their own as well.
„The Aliens Order,“ declared the Sunday Times, „under which all identifiable Scientologists have been denied entry to Britain places enormous power in the hands of the Home Secretary … The case against Scientology does not yet seem monumental enough to justify this kind of treatment. As we show on another page, there is considerable doubt about how many complaints against the movement, on serious clinical grounds, have in fact been made.“
The Manchester Guardian noted that they were „watching with discomfort the witch-hunt launched against the Scientologists“. Rhetorically, they asked: „Since when has the Minister of Health been custodian of the authenticity of philosophies? This is government out of ‚Erewhon.’… Such ministerial decisions as this should be questioned all the way. The future of more than Scientology is involved in them.“
Writing in the London Daily Express, columnist Robert Pitman observed that only the previous summer, the Minister of Health had said that health charges would be against all social progress. „A few months later, he was introducing them personally. Did he have a revelation, perhaps? As he was walking the Road to Whitehall, did the clouds open and a flat Northern voice
declare: ‚Kenneth, Kenneth, why kickest thou against the charges?'“
The lush outpourings of anti-Scientology stories which had appeared in the media were now re-examined in a more sober light and found to be largely back-fence gossip.
„Rummaging through a bewildering heap of new press clippings about the Church of Scientology,“ wrote C. H. Rolph in the New Statesman, „I find that the recent fuss began with a Daily Mail ‚Newsight‘ article and that since then, with two exceptions, all the pressmen have been quoting each other.“
Why, asked Rolph, did Scientology have to be suddenly proscribed as something socially harmful in a way that other cults were not, „its practitioners and pupils deported, its children barred from schools, its members turned clown by motor and accident-insurance companies, even its meetings outlawed? Once you start this sort of thing, everyone scrambles for stones.“
Another manifestation of the uneasiness felt by the more alert segments of British society concerning the rule by administrative fiat as demonstrated in the Scientology ban, was the action taken by the National Council for Civil Liberties. Describing Robinson’s statement on Scientology in Commons as „particularly fatuous“, the Council’s chairman, Tony Smythe, said: „Mr. Robinson’s remarks would apply with more justification to the Catholic Church, and if he objected to the Pope’s views, he could presumably harass Catholics in the same way.“
Smythe added that the Council considered such administrative measures as the ban against Scientologists to be totally wrong and would fight it.
When Commons reconvened in the autumn, voices of dissent were also raised in that august chamber. Some of the unmortgaged Members on both sides of the House challenged the Health Minister to publish the evidence he claimed to have in his possession and upon which he based his statements and actions against Scientology.
Mr. Robinson could not, of course, produce something which quite obviously he did not have. He took cover behind the shield so widely used by government functionaries in all countries – the alleged confidentiality of his information. Detailed evidence proving the cult’s potential danger to health, said he, consisted of individual case histories which it would be inappropriate to make public.
Referring to the massive attack in the media, Robinson declared with a straight face that evidence of Scientology’s social dangers had already been published widely in the press.
Enforcement of the ban on foreign Scientologists soon led British authorities into actions that were sometimes cruel and at other times ludicrous. Immigration officials were charged, as Conservative MP Iain Macleod observed, with the absurd task of trying to divide mankind into Scientologists and the rest.
It was not practical, of course, to ask every alien visitor arriving in England whether he was a Scientologist (although such a procedure would have greatly pleased the Scientologists; it’s the kind of publicity you can’t buy).
The Cerberean guards at the gates of Albion had to depend upon tips from Hubbard-haters, official reports, customs agents (who reported Scientology literature in the traveller’s luggage), and the answer to a question appearing on the Landing Card as to the foreigner’s reason for coming to Britain.
There were also less reputable sources of information. Scientologists at Saint Hill Manor are certain that their mail was intercepted and their telex and telephones tapped.
Since even the most sophisticated electronic equipment will not detect a wire tap that is made by officials who have the co-operation of the telephone company, the staff at Saint Hill tested the privacy of their lines in a simpler, but far more effective way.
At a certain time, a call was made from the East Grinstead headquarters to a branch centre. The person receiving the call was informed (falsely) that L. Ron Hubbard was entering England in defiance of the ban. He would arrive at a given airport at a given time.
Scientologists waited at the airport to meet not Mr. Hubbard, but representatives of the Home Office. They were not disappointed. Shortly before the time Mr. Hubbard was supposed to arrive, a corps of Home Office minions showed up in official cars and deployed around the area reserved for processing incoming passengers.
The splendid turnout of officials to receive the nonarriving L. Ron Hubbard was cogent proof that the telephones at Saint Hill were well-monitored.
While individual Scientologists who came to Britain found little difficulty in passing through the permeable immigration barrier set up to keep them out, those who travelled in groups were prevented from entering.
In July 1968, for example, a charter flight which was to bring 186 American students to Scotland was cancelled by the airline after being informed by the Home Office that the Scientologists would not be allowed to enter the United Kingdom.
Less than one month later, 2oo South Africans and 6oo Americans, who wanted to attend a Scientology congress in London, were refused admission.
At the entrances to the Croydon hall where the congress was held, squads of Scotland Yard detectives screened delegates entering the building.
Home Office commissars issued a warning to foreign visitors that anyone who came to Britain to attend the Scientology conclave, but put down „holiday“ on his landing card, as the purpose of his visit, would be guilty of an offence.
In an action that must have surprised and greatly annoyed the Yanks who were not Scientologists, immigration officers asked every American arriving in Britain
during the period just preceding the congress: „Why have you come here?“
Thoughtful Britons began to view this wholesale and almost hysterical zenophobia with growing concern. It publicly called into question the traditional and widely-held belief that the British were somehow more enlightened and tolerant in their views than the people of less civilized countries.
Mr. Alexander Lyon, Labour MP for York, asked the Home Secretary how many persons had been denied entry into the United Kingdom on the ground that they were Scientologists; and under what powers the immigration officers acted in refusing entry.
In his written reply, James Callaghan clearly demonstrated the fact that „credibility gap“ is not a phenomenon confined to high-level government circles in Washington, He said:
„No one has been refused admission on the sole ground that he was a Scientologist; but since July 25, 104 foreign nationals intending to study at Scientology establishments have been refused leave to land, under the Aliens Order, 1953.“
Although it was one of the stories that Fleet Street somehow overlooked, the harassment of overseas students coming to England to study Scientology began even before the Home Office officially announced its ban on foreign nationals.
By far the worst example of disregard for human rights or even human decency by Government gauleiters occurred in late June 1968. Two young new Zealanders -Sandra Stevens, eighteen and Bruce Gibson, twenty-four – who made the long journey from the antipodes to take a sixmonth course in Scientology at Saint Hill – were refused entry by the chief immigration officer at Heathrow Airport.
They were taken into custody and detained in prisons for
convicted criminals, while legal representations were being made on their behalf.
Sandra, who was sent to Holloway Prison for women, told her story in these words:
„The first time I realized there might be trouble ahead was on the plane. A man sitting beside me told me that, being a Scientologist, I would have trouble getting into England. I merely laughed and told him that we were talking about England, after all, and in England you were allowed to believe in what you chose. He laughed back at me and said -‚You’ll see‘. I did!
„On landing at London Airport and after passing quickly through Health I was stopped at Immigration and asked about my religion. Which level I was at and whether I had come to study in East Grinstead. I had all my luggage searched and my personal papers and letters taken away and read.
„After a two hour wait I was subjected to twenty minutes‘ questioning of my religion by two Immigration Officers. Only when I asked what my religion had to do with my being detained was I asked about the amount of money that I had and whether I had a return ticket. I showed them a letter saying I was being supported at Â£10 per week and told them any ticket would be paid at the end of my course.
„Another two hours went by. After that we were shunted into the office of the Chief Immigration Official. My travelling companion and I were told that we were going to be deported to Hong Kong that afternoon. An official told us that this action was being taken because I was a Scientologist.
„We rang the College at Saint Hill and managed to put off deportation to the following morning. One staff member from Saint Hill brought a letter saying we were students. I phoned home and asked them to cable 2oo dollars and to organize return air fare – which was done. We also rang the N.Z. High Commissioner, only to be told that as N.Z.
citizens and members of the Commonwealth we had no rights.
„The following morning – still at the airport Immigration changed our tickets. Since sufficient funds and return fare had been guaranteed, they now told us that we would be refused entry on grounds that we had no work permits and were ‚Student Trainees‘.
„The Legal Officer from Saint Hill came to the airport and took the legal battle off our hands.
„We had to stay at the airport, and then Bruce, my fellow-traveller and also a Scientology student, was transported to Brixton prison and I was taken to Holloway prison. This was the beginning of a new ordeal that was to last for nine days before I was allowed to leave the prison.
„When I arrived I was told to take off all my clothes, my belongings were taken from me and gone carefully through. I was left with one set of my own clothes and a prison nightdress. I was then taken up to my cell, which had no toilet or any facilities and a barred window.
„When the heavy door was shut and the key turned in the lock, I was very upset and felt all alone. There was a glaring light in my room and I couldn’t sleep. I pressed what I thought was the light switch and a loud buzzer jangled through the corridors. The night guard rushed up and asked angrily what was wanted. I told her that I wanted the light off. The answer was that the lights were left on all night in the solitary wings. I was in solitary though I had committed no crime.
„I woke up at dawn and lay awake until 7 a.m. when we were all pulled out of bed. I went upstairs with my bucket to wash. I was just about to get dressed when a girl from another cell came in. ‚Hi, I’m Gale. I’m a lesbian. Can I have a fag?‘ In a few minutes there were three of them surrounding me, asking me for cigarettes-they also stole some off me later.
„After an unspeakable ‚breakfast‘ consisting of porridge without milk or sugar – not to speak of jam – and some old
bread, we were taken upstairs to work. ‚Work‘ consisted of pushing out beer mats from a large piece of cardboard and counting them into lots of 100.
„That morning I was called out to see a Presbyterian minister, but when I told him I was not from his Church, be shrugged his shoulders and said there was nothing he could do for me.
„I was then taken to have my chest X-rayed. I was also asked to have a VD test, but managed to have that order withdrawn after explaining some naive facts of life.
„The girls in prison treated me with a certain respect and said I didn’t belong with them in prison. They were there for murder, drugs and theft. I was told in precise details how lesbians are lesbians, about drugs, prostitution and larceny.
„We were allowed no visitors except legal, and relatives and letters out were limited to one a week, all censored, of course.
„Being a responsible person, I was given the ‚privilege‘ of being a ‚garden girl‘. The job consisted of picking up a heavy barrow, filling it full with dirt and unloading at the other end of the road. Then run back for another load. After hours of work my hands were full of blisters and neck and shoulders ached.
„One night two girls smuggled in some ‚hash‘ cigarettes and smoked them amongst themselves. One girl threw an epileptic fit. She fell on the floor, bit her tongue till blood streamed from her mouth. When she had calmed down a bit she was brought back to her solitary.
„One girl obviously didn’t like my looks – she glared at me, then picked up a chair and threw it at me. Other girls tried to hold her down. She repeated this twice.
„I was allowed to leave prison after nine days. I had learned more about the sordid sides of life in those nine days than all my life before. I had read about prisons – I never thought it would become a reality for me.“‚
When the case was finally heard before a tribunal, the
High Court judge ordered her release and gave costs against the Home Office.
The petty harassments and ignoble acts that have always been a part of religious persecutions were not wanting in Scientology’s British experience.
Members of the Church (and here I am referring to English members, not foreign nationals) were made the victims of various kinds of slander, discrimination and spite. Here are some typical instances:
The headmaster of a private school refused to accept the son of a prominent Scientologist as a pupil, declaring, „The father has drawn a great deal of attention to himself and the family belongs to an organization said to be socially harmful.“
Six doctors in East Grinstead, Sussex (home of Scientology’s world headquarters) refused to accept Scientologists as patients on their National Health Service lists. A spokesman for the group told newsmen that „ethical reasons“ prevented his stating his objections. A lay member of the East Sussex National Health Executive Council made a public statement, saying:
„It is within my official knowledge that local doctors are most unwilling to include Scientologists in their lists of patients for the reason that they naturally want to avoid association with people who are frequently unclean and are often found living in most unsatisfactory conditions“ 5
Britains largest insurance company, the Royal Insurance Group, withdrew its policy on Scientology’s international headquarters – Saint Hill Manor. The reason given by company executives was that „we are pruning our portfolio of unprofitable business“.
When the Scientologists purchased an advertisement in the Tunbridge Wells telephone directory, it appeared under the classification, Zoos. Later the Government Post Office wrote to Thomson Directories, who print the book, asking
them not to carry any more advertising for Scientology under any classification.
The ability of the group fighting Scientology to use even the Foreign Office to harass Hubbard and his followers in distant parts of the world (and I am convinced they did, despite official denials) should make even the most resolute flagwaver stop and think.
Consider, by way of illustration, the Corfu caper. Anyone who has read any of the many accounts of British war-time intelligence activities will immediately recognize a familiar pattern in the whole episode.
Hubbard and 2oo of his adherents who had taken up residence aboard the 3,300-ton ship Apollo, thought they had found a haven far removed from their tormentors, when they docked in the harbour of Corfu, a Greek island in the Ionian Sea.
The local population was friendly, their goodwill no doubt stimulated by the estimated $5o,ooo a month the Scientologists were pouring into the island economy, which had to depend ordinarily on what summer tourism brought in.
After five or six halcyon months in their Greek refuge, however, the Scientologists began to realize that their enemies were at work once more behind the scenes, plant ing suspicions against Scientology in the minds of local authorities and spreading false stories among the people concerning the foreign „cult“.
According to the Scientologists‘ account of the affair, a substantial part of which I later verified, the main focal point of their difficulties in Corfu was the Honorary British Vice-Consul, a certain Major John Forte, whom Hubbard followers suspected, rightly or wrongly, of making derogatory statements about them to the Greek authorities.
An article appeared in the Corfu newspaper, Telegraphos, warning the Scientologists that the Greek Government would not tolerate anyone spreading within her territory theories of religion, politics „or even of black magic“.
Since all of Scientology’s literature was in English and the people of Corfu spoke Greek, such a statement leaves one puzzled as to how Hubbard might proselytize the local population. It seemed, rather, a pretext for publishing the whispered gossip already being circulated by word of mouth.
In London, the Greek Embassy was given copies of Hansard which reported in full the adjournment debate of March 6, 1967 concerning Scientology, as well as the Health Ministers statement of policy to the House on July 25, 1968, when he announced the ban against foreign Scientologists.
Apparently to make certain that the information reached Greek Government authorities at home, the British Embassy in Athens made the same material available to the Greek Deputy Prime Minister there.
The American State Department also weighed in with a request to Greek authorities for information concerning a thirty-one-year-old woman from Las Vegas, whose parents said had been kidnapped by the Scientologists. The woman had been aboard the Apollo, but had left the ship some time previously. Hubbard was unable to inform the Greek officials of the woman’s whereabouts because he did not know. Later, she turned up in Athens and expressed surprise that everybody had been searching for her. „We wonder,“ said a Scientology spokesman, „which Embassy or Embassy official hid her all that time.“
In exasperation, the Greek government on March 18, 1969 ordered the Scientologists to leave Greece. In reporting the incident, the New York Times wrote: „The expulsion order followed months of diplomatic pressure in Athens by U.S., British and Australian diplomats urging Greek authorities to examine the activities of those aboard the Apollo.“ 2
Not long afterwards, when the Greek authorities‘ own investigation revealed the truth concerning the Scientologists, Interior Minister Stylianos Pattakos apo –
logized for the incident and invited Hubbard and his followers to return to Greece.
The British Foreign Office vigorously denied that Major Forte had bad anything to do with the spreading of rumours about the Apollo and her crew. Nevertheless, a small item appearing in British papers on September 2, 1971 informed their readers that Major John Forte, Britain’s representative for thirteen years on the Greek island of Corfu had been sacked and would be paid Â£1.000 compensation by the Foreign Office.
„The major blamed the sacking on his fight against the Scientology cult whose leader’s ‚flagship‘ spent nine months anchored off Corfu,“ said the story. 4 (p. 9)
Major Forte’s dismissal came soon after Sir John Foster, who was conducting an official inquiry into Scientology, asked the Foreign Office to investigate the Corfu incident.
Hubbard charged that Major Forte was an agent acting under orders of the Foreign Office’s „Black Propaganda“ department. During the war, MI6, Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, actually operated such a branch whose function was to spread rumours and bits of gossip that would mislead and subvert the enemy, and „destroy them with whispers“. The false stories were referred to as „sibs“ among the secret agents, a word derived from the Latin sibullare, meaning „to whisper“.
Scientologists pointed out that Christopher Mayhew, president of the National Association for Mental Health, had been one of the important figures in the wartime black propaganda section of MI6.
Furthermore, Richard Crossman, Secretary of State for the Social Services, who had succeeded Kenneth Robinson when the latter lost his portfolio, had also been one of the master minds in Britain’s cloak-and-dagger operations during the war. A left-wing Socialist, he was at one time director of the German Section where, according to Sefton Delmer’s memoirs in Black Boomerang, he took „a sort of
benevolent interest“ in a group of German Marxists who helped in the psychological battle against Hitler.
Malcolm Muggeridge, who was himself connected with British intelligence, but who apparently had a low regard for its war-time personnel, who he described as a collection of „oddities, misfits and delinquents“, said most of the agents were leftists who, in the various Resistance Movements with which they were associated, tended to favour the Communist.
„It is ironical,“ Muggeridge observed, „to recall now that the French and Italian Communists got the money and arms which enabled them to establish themselves so strongly after the war, not from Stalin, but from AngloAmerican secret Intelligence sources.“ 3 (p. 184)
Scientologists say that even before the Corfu trouble, they had evidence that British agents were planting suspicions about them with foreign governments. They assert that one of their members who had a peek in the files of the Spanish Marine Ministry found reports from both the British Home and Foreign Offices, which implied that Scientology’s floating contingent were smugglers under investigation by Interpol.
In Casablanca, a man who claimed to be a correspondent for the Manchester Guardian turned up at the Panamanian Consulate, stating that he was collecting information for a story on the Scientologists. (The Apollo was of Panamanian registry.)
Scientologists claim that the „newsman“ informed the Panamanian Consul, as well as the local newspaper that they were drug traffickers wanted by Interpol for smuggling hashish into France and South America.
In their newspaper, Freedom (No. 27), the Scientologists announced (no doubt with tongue-in-cheek) that „to protect ourselves we are currently spreading the rumour that V (which is what the head of MI6 is cutely called) has had a nervous breakdown and that MI6 is being run by C’s
psychiatrist) who studied twelve years to become an expert Communist. Two can play this game.“
When Scientology was debated in the House of Commons on a motion for adjournment in March 1967, the Minister of Health had said that the Government took the view that there was little point in holding an enquiry because they already had evidence that the practice of Scientology was potentially harmful to its adherents.
The following year, when he announced the ban against foreign Scientologists, the Minister had repeated that assertion: „My Right Hon. Friend the Home Secretary and I have amassed a considerable body of evidence about the activities of the cult in this country.“
Only seven months later, on January 27, 1969, Richard Crossman, Secretary of State for Social Services, informed the House of Commons that he was setting up an inquiry into Scientology.
To take executive action against the Church, as the Government had done, and then to establish an inquiry to determine whether official action was justified, recalled the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, who cried, „Sentence first – verdict afterwards.“
Several of the Honourable Members wondered why.
„May I inquire,“ asked Mr. C. Pannell, „why it is that first, Scientology is characterised as a fraud, and then we set up an inquiry into it? Would it not have been rather better the other way round?“
Sir G. Nabarro was puzzled by the Government’s sudden about-face: „May I now be told by the Hon. Gentleman what has caused him to relent and to change his mind, and why he is now doing exactly the opposite of what it was endeavoured to persuade him to do a few months ago?“
Mr. Crossman had no forthright answer to these queries, and in reply expressed bewilderment that they should be raised, then talked around and around the subject without saying anything.
To carry out the Inquiry, which had the broadest terms of reference, the Government named Sir John Foster, KBE, QC, MP, Conservative Member for Northwich.
Sir John“s curriculum vitae followed the traditional pattern of England’s ruling class. Educated at Eton and New College, Oxford, he became a barrister and later a Queen’s Counsel. Prior to World War II, he lectured in international law at Oxford and afterwards became First Secretary at the British Embassy in Washington.
Crossman said the Inquiry would be conducted by Sir John alone, not by a committee and that it would not be carried out under statutory powers; therefore no one would be required to give evidence. Moreover, such evidence as was volunteered would be taken privately and not on oath.
„I have done this for a very special reason,“ explained Mr. Crossman. „The kind of evidence we want will be from people of a nervous nature, who will not face crossexamination or any public examination. This way we are more likely to get them to talk than in any other form of inquiry.“
To Scientologist ears this sounded suspiciously like a secret tribunal before which lies, gossip and suspicion would be the only evidence to be heard. By excluding press and public and allowing Scientology’s enemies to make charges unchallenged by cross-examination and unrestrained by swearing to tell the truth, the Government had set up an Inquisition along the lines followed by Torquemada.
Even unverified testimony from overseas countries was to be accepted.
The semi-privileged form the Inquiry was to take provoked adverse comment in several of Britain’s leading newspapers, but it proceeded as scheduled.
Sir John Foster concluded his Inquiry on December 31, 1970, and submitted his written report a few months later. But Sir Keith Joseph, who had by that time succeeded
Richard Crossman as Minister for Social Services, showed a strange reluctance to publish it or to disclose its contents.
After months of „waiting for Sir Keith“, both MPs and newspapers began to evince a growing impatience.
A Daily Mail reporter who had somehow learned what was in the Foster Report wrote that the Inquiry’s findings had infuriated senior Government health experts, who had been behind the ban against Scientologists. He said the report could damage Whitehall reputations.
In Parliament, too, demands were heard for public disclosure of Sir John’s conclusions, based on his examination of Scientology and its activities. During the three years since the ban had been imposed, some Members, on their own initiative, had taken steps to learn the facts about the sect and its practices.
William Hamling, Labour MP for Woolwich West, had gone personally to Saint Hill Manor and had taken several courses in Scientology. He said that he had found them very useful and thereafter became a supporter of the movement. The interesting thing about Mr. Hamling was that he had been Private Secretary to Health Minister Robinson who had taken steps to bar foreign adherents from entering Britain.
In response to public pressure, the Foster Report was finally published on December 22, 1971. One of its two principal conclusions, which had stunned the mandarins in Whitehall, was that most of the Government’s measures against Scientologists were not justified and that the entry ban on foreign Scientologists entering Britain should be lifted.
The Report also criticized the roughshod way in which immigration officers had enforced the ban. They were, said Sir John, „even more stringent than the letter of the measures“.
While it was clear that, as a matter of law, the Secretary of State for Home Affairs was perfectly within his rights in refusing Scientologists permission to enter Britain, „the
mere fact that someone is a Scientologist is, in my opinion, no reason for excluding him from the UK when there is nothing in our law to prevent those of his fellows who are citizens of this country from practising Scientology here“.
Sir John noted that „the attitude of the general public in Britain to foreigners – and to a good many other questions – demonstrates conflicting feelings of friendliness and hostility. On the one hand, there is the centuries-old insular tradition of contempt for Dagoes, Frogs, Wops and other lesser breeds without the law, who should be allowed to come here only for brief periods on sufferance, and then go home where they came from and trouble us no more. On the other band, there is the equally old tradition of welcome and hospitality, founded on a desire to learn from others, to widen our horizons, to enrich our experience and especially to help those who suffer persecution in their own countries,
„The policy of successive Home Secretaries has been informed, with few exceptions, by the better tradition of friendliness and hospitality which has been the foundation in turn for our long-established policies of tolerance and asylum. The general principle on which the Home Office has in fact (even if not in theory) acted for a very long time is that foreigners should be free to come and go through our ports of entry as they please, unless there is clear evidence that they are likely to do us some specific harm, such as the commission of crimes, political activity endangering national security, the passing on of contagious diseases, putting our own people out of work, or indigence as the result of which we shall find ourselves forced to support them. In my view, such a policy has been right in the past and is right at the present time; as the world becomes smaller and the mobility of its peoples greater, it becomes more rather than less important that we should encourage rather than restrict the free flow of people and ideas.
„Against that background, it seems to me wrong in
principle for the Secretary of State for Home Affairs to use his wide powers of exclusion against those Scientologists who happen to be foreigners or Commonwealth citizens, when there is no law which prevents their colleagues holding UK citizenship from believing in their theories or carrying on their practices here. If the practices of Scientology are thought to constitute a danger to our society sufficiently grave to warrant prohibition or control under the law, then it is for Parliament to make such a law and for the Executive to apply it impartially to Britons and foreigners alike within the confines of this country. But so long as none of our laws are being infringed, the classification of foreign Scientologists as ‚undesirable aliens‘ so that they are forbidden entry through our ports, while the accident of birth permits those Scientologists who happen to be citizens of the United Kingdom to process and be processed here with impunity, seems to me to constitute a use of this discretionary power which is quite contrary to the traditional policy followed by successive Home Secretaries over many years.“ 6
Besides recommending that Scientologists of foreign or Commonwealth nationality should henceforth be admitted to Britain as visitors on precisely the same footing as other people, Sir John said that in his view Scientologists who wished to come and work in the UK ought to be granted or refused a work permit on the same criteria as everyone else, and the fact that they or their proposed employers are Scientologists should be regarded as quite irrelevant.
The Report did not, however, favour admitting Scientologists as students, who under Britain’s immigration laws, form a privileged class and are normally allowed to stay four times as long as the ordinary visitor. Sir John gave as his reason for this stricture the fact that on the evidence before him he was not satisfied that Scientology schools as then organized were bona fide educational establishments.
A second major recommendation contained in the
192-page Report was the proposal that legislation be passed, aimed at controlling the practice of psychotherapy for fee or reward. Under terms of the Act, a professional council would be set up to pass on the practitioner’s qualifications.
Was Sir John being naive or merely clever when he advanced the absurd notion that such a professional council – probably controlled by psychiatrists and medical men – would, as he put it, welcome the Scientologists with open arms if they could make good their claim that Scientology was indeed the first thoroughly validated psychotherapy?
Did he honestly believe, after reviewing the documented evidence placed in his hands during the Inquiry, that the secret international alliance which had initiated the persecution of Scientologists all over the world would accept them as qualified colleagues?
Even allowing for the fact that the legal mind is capable of the most extraordinary contortions, one is driven to conclude that the eminent expert on law saw in such legislation the means of eliminating all unorthodox mental therapies.
Further supporting this view is the fact that be wanted the law to apply not only to Scientologists, but to doctors, dentists, ministers of religion, social workers and marriage guidance counsellors as well. „If any of these wish to charge their patients or clients for practicing psychotherapy on them, there is no reason why they should not first satisfy the Council that they have undergone the necessary training and obtained the necessary qualifications.“
The residual import of Sir John’s proposed legislation is that a protective trade union for psychotherapists, similar to that which exists for the practice of medicine, should be established by statute. There is abundant evidence to show that people whose minds and/or bodies have been seriously damaged by psychotherapy have been patients who were treated by the professional people Sir John would like to have determine the qualifications of others.
At the outset, Sir John states that since he held his
enquiry in private and heard neither witnesses nor advocates, he has considered himself disqualified from passing any judgment, adverse or favourable, on Scientology, its practitioners or practices. He nevertheless does pass judgment in the very thrust of his Report and in the selection of the material he presents. For example, he quotes
a number of derogatory passages from the biased Anderson Report, referring to his Victorian colleague, as „Mr. Kevin Anderson, QC, a distinguished leader of the Melbourne Bar“, presumably implying that the words of such an anointed member of his profession merit the kind of acceptance accorded a message from the Burning Bush.
He passes judgment on Scientology when he says, „I have been unable to discover any evidence which would support Scientology’s claim to be a science…“ 6 (p. 47)
He passed judgment on the leadership and practitioners of Scientology when he declared (in Paragraph 168, p. 120): „I am quite satisfied that the great majority of the followers [emphasis his] of Scientology are wholly sincere in their beliefs, show single-minded dedication to the subject, spend a great deal of money on it and are deeply convinced that it has proved of great benefit to them. But it is only fair also to make the obvious point that none of this furnishes evidence of the sincerity of the Scientology leadership, whose financial interests are the opposite of those of their followers.“
Taken as a whole, the Foster Report clearly aims at denigrating Scientology, not in illuminating it.
Publicly, at least, the Scientologists themselves expressed great satisfaction with the Foster Report. David Gaiman, deputy guardian and Scientology’s chief spokesman at the Saint Hill headquarters, told newsmen: „This has lifted a shadow that has been hanging over us for three years. Naturally, we are delighted that the report has recommended what we most wanted – that the ban on foreign Scientologists should be removed.“
From his flagship Apollo, L. Ron Hubbard issued a telex statement, saying: „I consider the lifting of the UK ban on Scientology’s foreign students as a Christmas present.
„All the ban did was cost England many millions in foreign exchange and make unnecessary upsets for people. The ban never hurt Scientology. Its numbers are double those of 1968.“
Hubbard said he felt no resentment towards the British Government, who had acted on reports now proven false. „I only hope this helps get German psychiatry off the backs of the British people.“
The Scientologists‘ elation – if, indeed, it was genuine was somewhat premature. A representative of the Home Office made it clear that the British Government had no intention of allowing foreign Scientologists back into Britain „in the foreseeable future“.
Sir Keith Joseph, Secretary for Social Services, told the Commons that the main recommendation of the report was that the restrictions instituted in July 1968 should be relaxed, but that the practice of psychotherapy for reward should be restricted to suitably qualified persons. The Government took the view that the recommendations should be considered as a whole, that is, the ban could not be lifted until „after consultations with relevant professional organizations“. „Until they are completed, the Goverment does not feel able to reach any conclusions on the report.“
In a word, the ban which Sir John had found to be unjustified in the first place, might be lifted, but the Whitehall overlords had not decided in what century it might happen.
While the Scientologists regarded the Foster Report as a Christmas present to them, their indefatigable adversaries thought St. Nicholas had put their names on the package. In a letter dated December 29, 1971 to Mary Applebey, general secretary of the National Association for Mental
Health, Dr. D. H. Clark (medical superintendent of Fulbourn Hospital, Cambridge) wrote:
„I spent much of Christmas morning reading the Foster Report and as I read it in detail I was filled with un-Christmas glee. I may be wrong, but I believe that Sir John Foster has dealt Scientology a subtle but grievous wound from which they will suffer for many years.
„If one only reads the conclusions the report seems favourable to them. This is what David Gaiman (did you see him on TV?) and the Press and other superficial people immediately seized on and which caused the Scientologists to whoop with glee. Yet the conclusions could hardly have been otherwise. Callaghan’s original decision to penalise the Scientologists – out of all the queer, religious and unpleasant political sects that come to Britain -could not, in the long term be defended. Apart from that, there was little for Sir John to make recommendations on, though his suggestion that the Tax Authorities screw down on all the shadow companies of the Scientologists will, I think, hurt them quite a bit in the long run.
„When one reads the whole report however, quite a different picture emerges; Sir John refuses to draw any specific conclusions; he expresses many doubts about the kind of enquiry that he has been holding, openly calling it ‚Inquisitorial‘; he says again and again that he will not publish any controversial evidence and he announces that he is going to destroy everything that was said to him yet to any dispassionate reader the endictment is wholly damning and this indictment is cunningly constructed of hardly anything but quotations from the Scientologists themselves. Sir John has cunningly extracted, from all the hundreds of documents that he must have had, examples of their vicious directives, evidence of their great wealth and cupidity and the very few really damaging incidents that are recorded against them (from the Anderson Report he lifts the one really terrifying story of how they processed a woman in
front of Mr. Anderson to such an extent that she had to be admitted [to] a mental hospital a week later).
„I believe the total effect on any open-minded individual would be to damn the Scientologists utterly and I hope that as many people as possible – all Members of Parliament for instance – will read the report; I believe it is to them that Sir John was addressing himself. I believe that he concluded that the Scientology leadership were evil men, grasping, paranoid and litigious and that he decided to write a report for his own kind, Members of Parliament, Judges, Lawyers, members of the establishment which would slowly lead the reader to damn the Scientologists by quoting from their own texts. I may be imputing too much sublety to him but I cannot help wondering whether he did not deliberately refrain from condemning them in the hope that they would swallow the bait and endorse the report as they have done. I believe that he reached exactly the same conclusion as Mr. Anderson but decided that instead of launching a violent polemic against them which tends to be selfdefeating (as the Anderson Report is in its very intemperance) he has written a seemingly temperate report which will do them much more harm in the long run.
„Certainly, they have swallowed the bait and have endorsed the report; we can now say to anyone who enquires ‚Here is a Government Report on Scientology, the Scientologists have accepted it as fair, I suggest you read and come to your own conclusions!'“
Dr. Clark added: „If I am right in this I am sure that we ought to buy large numbers of copies of the Foster Report so that we will always have them available to lend to people when necessary. I think we should consider giving it the widest publicity possible. Could we perhaps consider devoting one copy of ‚Mental Health‘ exclusively to quotations from the Foster Report – perhaps by using Sir John’s techniques and adding nothing of our own but merely quoting from him?“
In her reply, Miss Appleby agreed that the Foster Report
was a subtle hatchet job, but she expressed some doubt that it had dealt as grievous a blow to the Scientologists as her comrade-in-arms seemed to think.
„I was delighted to have your Christmas lucubrations on the Foster Report, and I am delighted that you consider the Foster Report as subtle as I do. What I wonder is whether the wound you see is in fact very grievous. I entirely agree that there is nothing in the Report to cause the Scientologists glee. On the other hand, unless the public can be made to read the Report and to appreciate the subtlety of its conclusions, have we really got very far? Of course no objective enquirer could recommend that the immigration ban should be continued, but any suggestion that Dr. Weissmann and his merry men will deter the Scientologists from their ‚therapy‘ is, I am afraid, moonshine (see Donald Gould in this week’s New Statesman). However, it would be good to talk to you about this, as I am talking to a number of people.“
The campaign to stamp out Scientology was still in full swing.