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Girl tells 'News' about her job with Scientology // Inspect cult offices, says councillor

Title: Girl tells 'News' about her job with Scientology // Inspect cult offices, says councillor
Date: Thursday, 1 August 1968
Publisher: Evening News (Edinburgh)
Authors: Logan Robertson, Nigel Hawkins
Main source: link (171 KiB)

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An Edinburgh Town Councillor has complained to the public health authorities about the offices in Edinburgh of Scientology — the system of religious philosophy of American origin, which claims to increase a person's ability.

Mr I. W. Wintour, Chief Sanitary Inspector for Edinburgh Corporation, said today: "We have received this complaint and are investigating."

Family find it 'disquieting'

Today we give the account of a local girl, Kathleen Riley, of her job as an employee of the organisation Scientology. Councillor Rupert Speyer accompanied Kathleen to the "Evening News" office after her father, Mr T. Riley, suggested that she should tell us of her experiences, which her family had found "rather disquieting." Later the girl, at home with her family, told us her story. At the end of this interview the family indicated that they would like all the facts to be given.

The Councillor, Mr Rupert Speyer, who with his wife runs the Togs dress shop in Shandwick Place, has taken this action after interviewing a 15-year-old local girl who was employed for five weeks by Scientology in their Edinburgh premises at North-East Thistle Street Lane.

The girl, Kathleen Riley, of 31 Niddrie Marischal Place, started work as a sales assistant at Shandwick Place today at a wage of £5. When she left Scientology she was being paid £9 as an inexperienced beginner.

Kathleen said she had seen a job for a filing clerkess advertised by Scientology and had applied for employment. She soon found herself in a rather bewildering atmosphere undergoing special tests and questionings, and, that all the members of the staff were in various gradings, from which advancement or relegation was applied.

Councillor Speyer said authorities because he was he had contacted the health disturbed that the premises were being used not only for office accommodation but for sleeping in.


After being at Thistle Street Lane for two days she was given a general security check. This involved use of a special mechanical device called an E-meter.

It took the form of a question and answer session on which her mental reactions were apparently recorded on cards. The cards were screened from her, and she was never told on the occasions she was subjected to the E-meter test what was recorded on them.


The E-meter, which Kathleen described as being "rather like a lie detector," was later used, she claimed, on members of staff in her department when an article disappeared from one of the rooms in the office block.

She said the article was "a dirk or dagger" which was stuck into notices on a notice board. She could not understand what the meaning of this practice was, but the board contained names of staff members showing gradings.

The apparatus she described as being in the shape of a box with a metering dial. When answering the questions she held in each hand a small metal drum, "rather like a tin can," which was attached by a wire to the machine.

She said she was asked such questions as "Do birds fly?" "Have you embezzled money in any previous [office]?" "Are you afraid of the police?" "Are you running away from the police for any reason?"

"I have never been in trouble of any kind," Kathleen told us, "and the questions made me feel rather nervous. The questioner appeared to sense this, and these questions were repeated until eventually I was told I was 'clear.' "

There were, she said, about 20 questions in all at this session.

After she had undergone her initial E-meter test, Kathleen said, she was graded in a state of "non-existence" and later re-graded as "normal." Other grades, she said, were "danger," "emergency," "normal," "liability," "treason," "doubt," "enemy," and what she understood to be the most exalted grade, "affluence" and "power."

The job Kathleen was given initially, along with some four or five others in her department was addressing and dispatching literature to various parts of the world. E-meter machines, which she was led to believe could be purchased for £50, were also dispatched.

She said that employees were all expected to do their own work without any assistance. No one was allowed to inteerfere with another's allotted task. When an employee felt competent in the work, he or she could write to the department supervisor saying the job was being done properly and asking for an upgrading.

Her normal working day, she said, was from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and she was supposed to have her allotted day's work completed before she could go home. After she had been there about a week she got behind her schedule and was told she would have to work late.

However, she left at her usual time, and the next day she was informed by her supervisor that she had been downgraded to "non-existence." Before this she had requested a transfer to another department, but was not sure [whether] her dissatisfaction with the work she had been doing was also attributable to her downgrading.

Employees, she claimed, could sleep all night in the office premises.

Commenting later on Kathleen's account of her job, Councillor Speyer said: "The thing that strikes me most, as Edinburgh's youngest town councillor, is that these methods seem to be a way of getting at the insecurity of young [people] and may be misleading them."

[Picture / Caption: Kathleen Riley said she was asked: "Are you afraid of the police?"]

[Picture / Caption: Councillor Rupert L. Speyer . . . has complained to the public health authorities.]