Scientology's Harassment of UK Citizens

The Advertiser, Adelaide, Australia

October 7, 1995

Headline: "Inside the cult"

By Alison Braund
Twenty Twenty, England

A former Adelaide journalist infiltrated the Church of Scientology in 
England. Exposed and arrested, she tells her story. 

THE brief had seemed relatively straightforward - to enter the Church 
of Scientology and secretly film some of its courses, widely 
criticised around the world for allegedly using mind-control 
techniques. There was no shortage of background material on the 
church, as it had been shrouded in controversy for many years. The 
organisation had been subjected to legal and political investigations 
in Australia, England and its birthplace, the United States. Its 
activities are constantly attracting publicity across the world. 

Founded by a science-fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard, the Church of 
Scientology has its own vocabulary, hierarchy, rules, regulations and 
agenda. It boasts a worldwide membership of more than 4 million people 
and one of the biggest computer databases of personal information in 
existence. For my investigation, I was to be recruited into the Poole 
``mission'' of the church, in South England. My producers chose Poole 
because it was one of the most successful Scientology operations in 
the world. My task was to work my way into headquarters of the elite 
``Sea Organisation'' (Sea Org), where mainly young members work for 
the church and live in a mansion on England's South Coast. The Sea 
Org's stated goal is to save the world. As a result, a standard 
employee's contract is for one billion years - that is, your life and 
all your lives to come.

My story, for British television company Twenty Twenty, was to be 
aired in a current-affairs series, The Big Story. But I never imagined 
the lengths the Church of Scientology would go to in its effort to stop
program from being broadcast. Nor the way it would deal with 
those involved.


My assignment began by creating a false name, life and identity which 
was repeatedly tested until I knew it backwards. Past scientologists 
came to teach me how to avoid being hypnotised. They showed me how to 
keep my mind occupied during concentrated sessions, which could last 
for several hours, and yet appear to be affected. 

I also studied how to cheat the E-Meter, a primitive lie detector 
widely used within the Church of Scientology for, among other things, 
security checks. Holding two cans in your hand, it passes an 
electrical current through your body and your emotional responses are 
assessed by a scientologist who monitors a dial with a needle. 
Interrogations can include questions like ``Are you or have you ever 
been involved in the media?'' and ``Have you ever had unkind thoughts 
about L. Ron Hubbard?''.

For those who make it further into the church's hierarchy, there is 
the ``Whole Security Check'', which demands answers to questions like 
``Have you ever destroyed a culture?'', ``Have you ever bred bodies 
for degrading purposes?'' and ``Did you come to Earth for evil 

I practised using a micro-camera lens hidden in a pair of spectacles. 
Recording and sound equipment was strapped to a corset. A psychologist 
came to assess my personality. His findings would be compared with 
those of the scientologists' well-known, 200-question personality 
test, ``The Standard Oxford Capacity Analysis'', which soon would be 
used on me. As a final safeguard, I signed a contract giving my 
permission to be forcibly removed from the Church of Scientology's 
premises in case I was brainwashed.


The Scientology recruiter who stopped me in the Poole Mall said he was 
promoting a book. He said he wanted to ask me some questions. This is 
a standard technique. The goal is to stop people, ask them some 
preliminary questions and then take them to a Scientology office where 
they are asked to do the Standard Oxford Capacity Analysis. This test 
usually shows that a person is in need of what is known within the 
organisation as ``dianetic auditing''. I followed my recruiter to a 
book display centre to learn more about dianetics, which I was told 
could improve my life, memory and relationships. I was asked to 
complete the personality test and drop it off at the Scientology 
office, or ``college'', that evening.

The Scientology personality test asks curious questions like ``Are you 
a slow eater?'', ``Do you often whistle or sing just for the fun of 
it?'', ``When unexpected things happen, do some of your muscles have 
jerking motions?'', ``Do you consider too much money is spent on 
social security'', ``Are you opposed to the probation system for 
criminals?'' and ``Do you browse through railway timetables, 
directories or dictionaries just for pleasure?''. Its results are 
drawn on to a graph, which invariably shows personal problems, 
requiring the need to spend money on taking Scientology courses to 
improve one's life. As expected, the findings of my earlier, 
professional psychological test contrasted strongly with their 

That evening, at the ``college'', I had my first taste of the skilful 
and hard-sell techniques of the church's recruiters, who are given 
targets to be reached at the end of each week. Most people at Poole 
appeared to work long days, at least six days a week. One 
ex-scientologist told me he earned 90 ($A180) a week. However, if 
targets were not met, this could fall to as low as 2.50 ($A5) a week. 
Graphs charting the financial and membership status of the Poole 
mission were pinned to walls in the building. I learnt Scientology 
``missions'' compete to beat the others found throughout the world. 

I arrived at the college at 9pm. By 10.30pm, I had been in the 
``public contact'' secretary's office for over an hour. I was feeling 
vulnerable and depressed. Although I was determined not to sign up for 
anything during the marathon session, or hand over any money that 
evening, I ended up signing up just to get away. I handed over the 
special half-price fee of 32.25 for five hours of ``auditing''. 

``Auditing'' sessions typically would start with understanding and 
friendship from the Scientology staff as they discussed problems and 
offered solutions. Then they would question the effectiveness of 
outside forms of help, and suggest that only by undertaking a 
Scientology course would an improvement be achieved. 


There are many types of Scientology ``auditing'' courses. The object 
is to ``clear'' the person - to cancel all their ``engrams'' left 
behind by negative experiences. A promotional video explains 
``engrams'' by showing a woman who falls to the floor. While 
unconscious, a tap is running in the kitchen and her husband comments 
she looks terrible. As a result, every time a tap runs she thinks she 
looks terrible.

To cancel all one's ``engrams'' usually takes at least 200 hours, 
although it can take thousands. Each session costs money. The evidence 
of a ``clear'' person is apparently someone with near-perfect memory 
and glowing health: radiant personalities free from disease. 
My ``auditing'' entailed describing a negative event in my life to my 
auditor over and over again, in order that I could talk about the 
event free from any emotion connected with it. 

The auditor spoke in a slow, soothing monotone in a method similar to that 
used in hypnosis. He wrote down everything I said. 
After my auditing was completed, I was congratulated before it was 
recommended I do a ``Purification Rundown''. Through massive doses of 
vitamins and an average of five hours of sauna a day, along with 
running activities, the program is claimed to release you from all 
legal and illegal drugs and alcohol which otherwise would linger 
forever in your system.

I refused to do this course so it was suggested I do the ``Success 
Through Communications'' course, as my personality test had shown I 
had problems communicating. I agreed to this, paid 58 and endured 
three days of inane work and drills. I spent two, boring hours 
sitting, staring at a scientologist. There are other strange drills, 
including ignoring anything your partner is saying, pretending to 
sound interested, changing the subject and answering a question by 
ignoring it.


Any criticism of courses or the church was strictly forbidden. Church 
members told me it was part of a plot by the ``suppressive or 
anti-social'' person to stop any good being done in the world. Even 
among members, nothing critical was ever said, although it appeared 
obvious to me some people were unhappy about work conditions. I got 
the impression that the feeling within the cult is like that of a 
dictatorial regime - you never know who your friends are and you were 
always being watched. Every scientologist is expected to report 
anything they hear which is contrary to the church teachings. 
Anyone who does anything rebellious or fails substantially could be 
sent on the infamous ``Rehabilitation Project Force'' (RPF). Stories 
from ex-cult members describe cramped sleeping arrangements, hard 
manual labor and security checks (or ``evil purpose editing''). 


After a handful of courses, my future worth to the church was to be 
determined. I was sent to the head of the mission to have my finances 
assessed. I said I had very little money left but hinted I would have 
access to an inheritance in a few weeks. 

The mission head suddenly was interested. He persisted with suggesting 
ways I could get the money as soon as possible, so I could get started 
with future courses. One costing 2000 was deemed best for me. I was 
lucky though and ended up paying only half of another course which 
cost only about 100. It has been well documented by the media that 
other people who have become involved with the Church of Scientology 
have not been so fortunate.


It may seem incredible that otherwise intelligent people can fall 
victim but they are given little time to think, have other interests 
or see their friends. As a new recruit, I was seldom left alone and 
would be personally escorted from room to room - even if I knew where 
to go.

Sometimes I was even followed into the toilet and asked questions. On 
my second visit, when I went to move my car, I was escorted there and 

When I decided it was time to make my run for the church headquarters, 
the Sea Org, I entered on the pretext of visiting a mansion formerly 
owned by L. Ron Hubbard. After discussions, I was asked if I'd be 
interested in joining the staff. There, I found members were working 
and studying from 8am to 10pm.

I had become used to filling out questionnaires, surveys, writing 
testimonies and being asked security questions. 
But at Sea Org headquarters, I was introduced to the ``Life History'' 
questionnaire, which topped them all.

I was asked to list all people I knew who had expressed any opinion 
against Scientology. I had to detail all my friends; their jobs and 
previous jobs and the communication I'd had with them since joining 
Scientology; to list all the drugs and medicine I'd taken, when and 
for how long; to give a complete sexual history, from the earliest 
experience, of both heterosexual and homosexual activities and the 
names of all involved, the number of times of the activity and any 
perversions engaged in. I objected but was told the information was 
totally confidential and would be used only by my counsellors to help 
me. I do not believe this is the case.


Then, as my assignment continued, there was a tip-off. I apparently 
was followed one evening to the house of the producer of my program, 
whose address already was noted by the Scientology ``Special Affairs'' 

When I returned to the Sea Org headquarters, I was left alone in a 
room. It was there I saw a pile of photocopied documents marked 
``strictly confidential''. They included the names of some ex-members 
who had been involved in litigation with the church. I wanted to read 
the material and film it, so I put one of the papers in my bag. 
Meanwhile, the ``Special Affairs'' director was filming my activities 
with two concealed cameras. The police were called and I was arrested 
for suspicion of theft.

As I left the building, the corridors were suddenly lined with 
scientologists, some of whom photographed and videotaped me. I was 
taken to the local police station and later released on bail. My main 
fear was that the scientologists would get hold of my real name. It is 
widely documented that people who have spoken out against the church 
and its activities have been harassed. Although the police assured me 
they didn't release my name, it wasn't long before the cult was 
visiting my family in rural South Australia. 


After my arrest, I rang my family in Australia to warn them the church 
may contact them. I heard someone, claiming to be a journalist, had 
called my former high school asking for information about my 
background. He told my father I was involved in a cult and wanted to 
help me. When my father refused to tell him anything, a woman visited 
him the next day.

She admitted she was from the Church of Scientology and said I had 
been arrested, that I would get a criminal record and never be able to 
work again. She urged him to contact me and convince me not to proceed 
with the program. Meanwhile, the man had been at my primary school, 
masquerading as the husband of one of my friends, looking through my 
school records. The campaign to stop the program from being aired 
gathered momentum. This involved demonstrations and the distribution 
of a Scientology magazine called Freedom. An article in Freedom 
accused me and my producers of dishonesty, deceit, violating codes of 
television journalistic ethics and committing criminal acts. 

Everything built up to broadcast night. Predictably, Carlton TV had 
many phone calls the evening the program was aired, complaining about 
biased reporting. But one of the most telling things of all, was that 
many of them were made before the broadcast even went to air. 


After a protracted legal wrangle, charges for suspicion of theft were 
dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service. The scientologists 
unsuccessfully sought an injunction against the program going to air. 
They also issued civil writs against me and Twenty Twenty, claiming 
damages for trespass to goods, trespass and breach of confidences. 
These proceedings have yet to be heard.

The Church of Scientology also issued summonses for ``obtaining 
services by deception''. My lawyers applied to the London Magistrates 
Court for a hearing to halt these proceedings. 

The case hit the media spotlight. My lawyers argued the summonses 
should be dismissed as they were issued solely to prevent the 
broadcast of the program, to punish and embarrass the defendants for 
making the program and to dissuade other journalists from publishing 
any material critical of the church. The case ended in the withdrawal 
of the summonses late last month, although the church still has the right
to appeal.

Behind Scientology

        Described as the study of knowledge, it was invented by the
science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s. Although innocent on the
surface, dealing with self improvement, the movement has quite strange
undertones. As a member moves up the various levels, by completing courses,
he or she discovers its belief in reincarnation. When a member reaches the
highly classified OT3 level (Operating Thetan), he or she is ready to learn
the secret of the history of the universe, which is so powerful and dangerous
that if one is not ready for its revelation, it will result in their death.
The revelation is that billions of years ago, the Earth was called the planet
Creteon and the ruler of the galaxy, Prince Xenu, living in another galaxy
which was over-populated, sent some of his subjects to Earth, stored them in
volcanoes and blew them up with atom bombs. Their souls, or "thetans"
clustered together an now form us.

The Advertiser, Adelaide, Australia
October 7, 1995