Scientology's Harassment of UK Citizens

From nobody@REPLAY.COM Fri Sep 22 15:33:29 BST 1995

Copyright 1995 The Australian Associated Press.  Redistribution
    LONDON, Sept 20 AAP - An Adelaide journalist was cleared today  of
charges of theft brought against her by the Church of Scientology
following an investigative report into the church.
   The City of London Magistrates Court heard that the church tried to
entrap Alison Braund while she was working under cover for a British
television company.
   Chairman of the bench, Hinda Style, said there had been an abuse  of
process and awarded Stg15,400 ($A31,448) costs against the prosecution.
   "It's a great decision," Ms Braund said outside the court. "It's a
real victory for journalists doing their job in the interest of the
public and a victory against pressure groups like the Church of
Scientology who harass people through the courts. I shall carry on
   Ms Braund filmed inside the church's premises in Bournemouth, south
England, using spectacles containing a small camera.
   Despite an attempt by the church to have it stopped, the program was
broadcast on July 13 this year.
   The Dianetics and Scientology Mission of Bournemouth had brought
private summons against Ms Braund, Twenty Twenty Television Ltd and
producer Claudia Milne under the Theft Act.
   They allegedly obtained a course book and entry to a course known as
the Hubbard Qualified Scientologist Course through deception by falsely
representing that their reason was exclusively religious and spiritual.
   Barrister Peter Thornton, representing the journalist, said
27-year-old Ms Braund's family in Australia had been threatened.
   But Ms Braund later said the wrong word had been used and they had
been contacted by scientologists asking about her and where she could be
   Mr Thornton said Ms Braund, identified by the church as Alison
Davis, enrolled in the course last May.
   On June 12, members of the church used two hidden cameras to record
her secretly.
   "The church sought to entrap her by placing deliberately documents
headed "highly confidential' in the room and leaving her on her own," Mr
Thornton said.
   She allegedly placed the top copy in her bag.
   The police were called and she was arrested. But after an
investigation, the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to charge her.
   The church had also complained to the Attorney-General that the
program would constitute a contempt of court if broadcast and asked  him
to issue an injunction. It was refused.
   Mr Thornton said the church was being "vexatious and  oppressive".
Obtaining entry to the course did not confer a benefit under the Theft
Act and dishonesty was not involved in the accepted sense.
   "We consider there has been an abuse of process because the actions
of the prosecution in bringing this particular prosecution pre-empted
the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service and that taking out the
summons was oppressive," Mrs Style said in  delivering her verdict.
   AAP str/dw/mkg