ENQUIRY INTO THE PRACTICE AND EFFECTS OF SCIENTOLOGY
CHAPTER 1: The Background to the Enquiry
(a) The Press10. So far as I can ascertain, the Press in the United Kingdom first showed interest in Scientology in late 1960, when the headmistress of a private school in East Grinstead, who was undergoing a course in Scientology, was reported to be taking pupils of hers aged between 7 and 11 through an exercise in which they were asked to imagine that they were dead and turning to dust, as a result of which one small boy was said to have fainted.
11. Scientology did not become a matter of major concern for the Press again until the summer of 1966, when one of the national daily newspapers reported extensively on "The Case of the Processed Woman". From late 1967 onwards, Scientology received increasing adverse publicity in the Press. Much of this led to proceedings for libel: a schedule supplied to me by the Scientologists' Legal Officer at East Grinstead states that the Scientology Organisations started 29 libel actions in the English Courts between 1966 and 1970, but many of these are now described as "more or less inactive". One of them, in which the Scientologists sued Mr. Geoffrey Johnson-Smith, MP for what he said about them on television, has recently come to trial. Although I have seen from the newspapers that the Scientologists lost, I have not followed this trial, nor read any transcripts or reports. (b) Parliament12. The first mention of Scientology in Parliament came in a question put down by Lord Balneil for 7th February 1966, when he asked the then Minister of Health -
"Whether he will initiate an Inquiry into the scope and practice in this country of so-called Scientology, and the practice of psychology for fee or reward by persons who have no medical or psychological qualifications".Mr. Kenneth Robinson replied: -
"I am prepared to consider any demand for an inquiry, but I have not had one yet. I am aware that extravagant claims are made on behalf of Scientology, which are not generally accepted, and for my part would advise anyone who is considering a course of this kind to go to his doctor first." (2)When the question of an Inquiry into Scientology was again raised in the House on 5th December 1966, Mr. Robinson replied -
"I do not think any further inquiry is necessary to establish that the activities of this organisation are potentially harmful. I have no doubt that Scientology is totally valueless in promoting health and, in particular, that people seeking help with problems of mental health can gain nothing from the attentions of this organisation." (3)13. On 6th March 1967, Scientology was the subject of the Motion for the adjournment of the House and on that occasion came in for severe criticism from a number of Members. Replying to the debate. Mr. Robinson said: -
"I do not want to give the impression that there is anything illegal in the offering by unskilled people of processes intended in part to relieve or remove mental disturbance. The law places no barrier against this, provided that no claim is made of qualified medical skill and the scientologists do not claim this. What they do, however, is to direct themselves deliberately towards the weak, the unbalanced, the immature, the rootless and the mentally or emotionally unstable; to promise them remoulded, mature personalities and to set about fulfilling the promise by means of untrained staff, ignorantly practising quasi-psychological techniques, including hypnosis. It is true that the scientologists claim not to accept as clients people known to be mentally sick, but the evidence strongly suggests that they do". (4)14. However, by July 1968 the attitude of the authorities to Scientology had changed, and on the 25th of that month Mr. Robinson made the following announcement in the House of Commons by way of written answer to a Parliamentary question -
"During the past two years, Her Majesty's Government have become increasingly concerned at the spread of Scientology in the United Kingdom. Scientology is a pseudo-philosophical cult introduced into this country some years ago from the United States and has its world headquarters in East Grinstead. It has been described by its founder, Mr. L. Ron Hubbard, as "the world's largest mental health organisation".
15. From then until January 1969, eight further questions on the subject of Scientology appeared on the Order Paper.(e) Work permits and employment vouchers will not be issued to foreign nationals (or Commonwealth citizens) for work at a scientology establishment;My Rt. Hon. Friend the Home Secretary and I have amassed a considerable body of evidence about the activities of the cult in this country, in particular its effects on the mental health of a number of its clients, and its treatment of those who attempt to leave the movement or who oppose it in any way. We shall continue to keep a close watch on the situation and are ready to consider other measures, should they prove necessary". (7)
(c) Enquiries into Scientology abroad(i) Australia
17. The first country to conduct an enquiry into Scientology was the Australian State of Victoria. Scientology first came to the attention of the authorities there in about 1961. In the succeeding years, its practices and effects became a matter of concern for the Chief Commissioner of Police, the Mental Health Authority (a statutory body constituted under the Victorian Mental Health Act), the University of Melbourne and the Australian Medical Association. Following a series of articles in a Melbourne newspaper, Scientology was debated in the Victorian Legislative Council in November 1963, and this in turn led to the appointment, by an Order in Council made on 27th November of that year, of a Board of Enquiry to "enquire into, report upon, and make recommendations concerning Scientology as known, carried on, practised and applied in Victoria". The person appointed to constitute the Board was Mr. Kevin Victor Anderson, Q.C., a distinguished leader of the Melbourne Bar, who has since been elevated to the Victorian Supreme Court Bench.
18. For the form of his Enquiry, Mr. Anderson chose the procedure adopted in Great Britain for a full-scale Tribunal of Enquiry: all parties with any interest in the proceedings were represented by Solicitors or Counsel, all evidence was given on oath, with full opportunities to all parties to cross-examine witnesses, and with few exceptions the evidence was given in public. As with a British Tribunal of Enquiry, Counsel (Mr. Gordon Just) was appointed to assist the Board, instructed by the Crown Solicitor of Victoria.
19. The thoroughness of the Anderson Enquiry may be judged from the fact that its sittings occupied 160 days, 151 witnesses were heard, the transcripts of whose evidence covered 8,920 pages with nearly four million words, and in addition many thousands of documents were put in. At one time or another, 11 different parties were represented before the Board. The Board's Report, presented on 28th September 1965, occupies 173 printed foolscap pages, together with 19 appendices,
20. The Report (which for brevity I shall call "the Anderson Report") proved to be wholly unfavourable to Scientology: -
"Scientology is evil; its techniques evil; its practice a serious threat to the community, medically, morally and socially, and its adherents sadly deluded and often mentally ill." (9)Other quotations from the findings of the Anderson Board will be found later in this Report.
21. Following upon the presentation of the Anderson Report, the Victorian legislature passed the Psychological Practices Act, 1965. This provides for the registration of all psychologists with a newly created Psychological Council, and restricts the practice of psychology for fee or reward, the use of the word "psychologist" or similar expressions and certain kinds of related advertising and holding out, to persons so registered. It also restricts the practice of hypnotism, and makes it a criminal offence to demand or receive, "directly, or indirectly, any fee or reward ... for or on account of or in relation to the teaching practice or application of Scientology" or to hold oneself out "as being willing to teach Scientology". Further, it provides for the seizure and delivery up to the Attorney-General of all scientological records.
22. Although the appointment of the Anderson Board had been publicly welcomed by the Scientologists. who proclaimed that it "would completely vindicate Scientology and Dianetics" (12), called 100 out of the 151 witnesses, and put in the bulk of the documentary evidence, and although the Scientology interests co-operated very fully in the proceedings almost to the end, they do not accept the Enquiry's findings. Their principal objections are to be found in the following documents: -
(a) "Kangaroo Court", a pamphlet of 48 pages published in 1967. In this document, they explain the adverse findings of the Anderson Report as follows: "The State of Victoria began in the 19th Century as a convict settlement composed of the riff-raff of London's slums - robbers, murderers, prostitutes, fences, thieves - the scourings of Newgate and Bedlam". Accordingly, it is "a society founded by criminals, organised by criminals and devoted to making people criminals'. As for the Victorian legal system, "the corruption and brutality of its origin linger on in the practices and prejudices of its practitioners". (13) In fact, the entire proceedings of the Anderson Board constituted "a systematic and malicious attempt to belittle what knowledge concerning the human spirit there was, and to degrade decent, honest people whose only crime was that they were working to achieve a greater awareness of themselves as spiritual beings" (14), furnishing one more example of "the inborn criminal and suppressive nature of Australian society and legal system". (15)23. Following upon the events in Victoria, Bills limited to the prohibition of the teaching and practice of Scientology as such (in terms similar to the corresponding provision of the Victorian Psychological Practices Act 1965) were introduced in the Parliaments of Western Australia and South Australia. The Western Australian Parliament devoted a total of over 20 hours to debating its Bill, and passed it into law in 1998. The South Australian legislature appointed a select Committee to consider the Bill, which met on 15 occasions to hear the evidence of 14 witnesses on oath, resulting in a transcript of 192 pages. Its Report concluded that
". . . Scientology is being practised in South Australia with some very undesirable results. These include, that scientology has been, and could continue to be, a serious threat to mental health. Scientology has been harmful to family life in this State and has caused financial hardship to some citizens. People who have severed their connection with scientology have been subjected to unjust and unreasonable pressures by scientologists.and thereupon the Bill was passed in 1969. The Scientologists' reaction to this legislation is that "Australia is now a Police State." (23)
24. On 28th June 1968, a Petition was presented to the New Zealand Parliament signed by 716 persons and asking for an Enquiry into Scientology. Parliament referred it to the Select Committee on Social Services; after hearing a substantial volume of evidence this Committee reported to the House on 7th November 1968 recommending the appointment of an Enquiry as prayed. The House having agreed to the Committee's recommendations, there was set up by Order in Council dated 3rd February 1969 a Commission of Enquiry into Scientology, with terms of reference limited to
"The working of existing law and the necessity or expedience of any legislation in respect of the activities, methods, and practices of the Hubbard Scientology Organisation in New Zealand or any associated Scientology organisations or bodies in New Zealand in so far as those activities, methods and practices may -
(b) Affect the custody or control of children and persons under the age of 21 years;25. The terms of reference specifically excluded "any Enquiry into the philosophy, teachings or beliefs of Scientology or Scientologists" except to the extent necessary to facilitate the Enquiry into the matters specified.
26. The members of the Commission were Sir Guy Richardson Powles, KBE, CMG, the New Zealand Ombudsman, and Mr. E. V. Dumbleton. They sat for 8 days and (assisted by Counsel) heard 27 witnesses, the transcript of whose evidence occupied 650 pages. 191 documents were put in. The Report was dated 30th June 1969. and the following quotations will suffice here to give its gist: -
"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." (23)
"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." (26)
27 I have not seen any challenge to the conduct or conclusions of this Enquiry in any of the Scientology literature.
28. By an Order in Council dated 14th July 1966, made under the Public Inquiries Act 1960, the Government of the Province of Ontario established a Committee "to enquire into and report upon all matters relating to the education and regulation relevant to the practice of the healing arts".
29. At an early stage of its enquiry, the Committee commissioned Professor John A. Lee of Toronto to undertake a study of sectarian healers and hypnotherapy in Ontario.
30. The Committee's Report was published earlier this year.
It covers, in nearly 1,000 pages, the whole field of medicine and the healing professions in the Province. Professor Lee's study was published at the same time. In a chapter devoted to "Sectarian Healers and Hypnotherapy", the Committee has this to say about Scientology: -
"With no other group in the healing arts did the Committee encounter the uncooperative attitude evinced by the Church of Scientology." (29)
"We had already adopted the position . . . that there was a point beyond which we would not go in restricting the rights of mentally competent individuals to seek treatment from health practitioners of their own choice, unless we found evidence that the practice might be harmful . . . We did not believe that the compilation of further evidence pertaining to Scientology would be likely to cause us to recommend the prohibition of its practice in Ontario and so we did not consider that the additional information which we might obtain would be of a nature to justify the further expenditure of time."(iv) South Africa
31. In the Republic of South Africa, a Commission of Inquiry into Scientology, consisting of nine members under the Chairmanship of Mr. G. P. C. Kotze. a retired Supreme Court Judge, was appointed on 28th March 1969 under the Commission Act 1947. This Commission has power to summon witnesses and hear their evidence on oath. Its Enquiry is currently still in progress.
32. According to a report in the "Rhodesia Herald" of July 14th 1966, the founder of Scientology, Mr. L. Ron Hubbard, was refused permission to stay in Rhodesia by the authorities. No reason was given by either side. According to the newspaper, Mr. Hubbard had bought a hotel there and was planning other business ventures. As appears from paragraph 79 below, the Scientologists suffered losses on their Rhodesian Mission branch of over £33,000.
(2) Hansard, vol. 724, cols. 11-12
(3) Hansard, vol. 737, col. 183
(4) Hansard, vol. 472, col. 1224
(5) ibid, col. 1226
(6) ibid, col. 1227-8.
(7) Hansard, vol. 769, cols. 189-191.
(8) Hansard, vol. 776, col. 937.
(9) Anderson Report, p. 1.
(10) ibid, p. 2.
(11) ibid, p. 48.
(12) ibid, p. 8.
(13) Kangaroo Court, p. 3.
(14) ibid, p. 4.
(15) ibid, p. 8.
(16) ibid, Chapter 4.
(17) ibid, Chapter 5.
(18) ibid, Chapter 6.
(19) ibid, Chapters 7, 9,11,12,16,17, 19 and 23.
(20) ibid, p. 47
(21) ibid, p. 41.
(22) Cmnd. 3121.
(23) Report to M.P.s, p. 10
(24) p. 53.
(25) p. 54.
(26) p. 55
(27) p. 57
(28) p. 58.
(29) Vol. 2, p. 504.
(30) ibid, pp 504/5.
(31) ibid, pp. 509-10.