The newspaper article from the Tonbridge Courier and the East Grinstead
Friday, July 14, 1995
Cult threatens legal action over defamation
WE LIVE IN FEAR
By Sheila Gow
THE THREAT of legal action hangs over a young Tonbridge man who is accused
of conspiring to "injure and defame" the Church of Scientology.
But Richard and Judy Price of Lionel Road, claim that they have done nothing
unlawful - they are just fearful for the welfare of a close relative who
joined the organisation - and are now suffering from harassment and
After Richards sister became a church member five years ago, they sought
help from a support group in a bid to get her out.
They also spoke to a researcher from a programme, The Big Story, which
claimed to expose Scientology as a cult masquerading as a religion and was
scheduled for transmission last night (Thursday).
Legal investigators acting for the cult have twice been to the Prices house
- the last time at nearly midnight when a letter was pushed through the door
and a man was heard running away. The couple reported the incidents to
"It was very frightening - I dont want unsolicited people at the house late
at night," Judy said, "I couldnt sleep because of it and I now feel
verinsecure. I know that we are opposed to Scientology but this is a fre
e country and we have a right to speak our minds. We have done nothing
unlawful - we have just tried to get Richards sister out of it."
A letter from East Grinstead solicitor, Peter Hodkin, accused Richard of
taking part in The Big Story campaign and claimed that "other unlawful and
tortuous acts are planned." He warned of possible actions in nuisance,
trespass, defamation and public order offences.
Judy said that her husband became very worried when his sister joined the
"She was very excited but he realised it was bad news," she said, "When he
tried to talk to her about it she became very unpleasant and shunned us
and it completely changed her character."
They hope that by sharing their experiences they can warn others who could
become involved simply by answering questions from High Street researchers
or taking part in personality tests.
Spokesman for the Scientogists, Peter Mansell, said that it was not the
churchs policy to frighten or cause distress. He had not seen the
solicitors letter but felt that it had been sent to anyone thought to be
connected with the television programme.
I "dont think it was anything personal," he said. "It was probably
just a warning for the benefit of those that had been interviewed. I have
nproblems with people who oppose our beliefs but so many of the stories
that are spread about us are wrong."
Mr Mansell said that the church had also suffered harassment from the
television reporters making the programme. "So who is bugging who?" he