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'We disconnect you'

MP seeks top-level inquiry as 'Church' again disrupts families

Daily Mail, 11 February 1984, pages 10-11

by Peter Sheridan

A RELIGIOUS sect has reintroduced to Britain a policy that can lead to the break up of homes and families.

The Church of Scientology is practising "disconnection" — where members disillusioned with the running of the Church are sent to Coventry and declared a non-person.

An exclusive Daily Mail Investigation has revealed many sad and bitter victims.

A similar policy 15 years ago led to public outcry and a Parliamentary investigation. As a result. Scientologists from overseas were banned from entering the country.

The 'Church' was reluctantly forced to abandon 'disconnection'. But the policy has been back in Britain since last September

Now the Home Secretary is to be asked to launch an immediate investigation.

Anthony Beaumont Dark, Conservative MP for Birmingham. Selly Oak, said last night: 'I thought these evil practices had been stamped out.

"These people have the powers to make people very unhappy, and I shall be asking the Home Secretary on Monday if he is aware of this practice, and what action can be taken.'

The Church of Scientology has six million members worldwide, with 200,000 in Britain.

The 'Church' in this country has an annual turnover of £2 million, raised from the counselling courses it runs and book sales. The money is channelled through Saint Hill, its headquarters in East Qrinstead, Sussex, built to look like Tunbridge Castle.

Scientology was founded in 1950 by nuclear physicist Lafayette Ronald Hubbard—known as L Ron Hubbard to his followers. [This isn't true: he never qualified as a nuclear physicist- MLP] It is aimed to help a person understand bimself and others by using counselling techniques.

Counselling services can cost up to more than £4.000 for a 12 1/2 hour course. There are seven high street Scientology shops around Britain, including London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Edinburgh and Plymouth.

"Now the old reign of terror is back" said dentist Ron Lawley, commenting on the re-introduction of the Church's disconnection' policy. Once a senior executive in the Church, he has been 'declared' a non-person. The 'church' is expected to tell friends to have no further contact with him.

Some 2,000 Scientologists are believed to have been 'declared' in the past two years—compared with average of 100 a year previously. It has brought a spate of resignations from the 'Church'.


The 'Church' itself' admits reintroducing its disconnection policy. It is a fact of life.' said public affairs officer Michael Garside. 'If somebody you are associated with directly makes your life a misery, it may be necessary to drop your contacts with them. It is certainly not our policy to split up relationships.

'But occasionally someone comes Into Scientology aged around 30, and where they have been out of touch with their parents for years, may return and tell them they are making a mess of their lives, and recommend Scientology.

'We say that situation must get "handled", or you don't get any more courses. They sort out the problem — or apply the policy of disconnection.'

One Scientologist, an attractive businesswoman of 34, who once held a senior executive post in the 'Church', said : 'My boyfriend had to disconnect from me because I resigned from the "Church".

'We had known each other for nearly a year, and were going to get married.'

She resigned at the 'Church's' home-breaking policy being reintroduced. She said: 'I didn't realise that resignation is held to be a "suppressive" act. I wasn't, "declared" in print — but word gets out.

But her ex-boyfriend, a teacher at Greenfields School, near East Grinstead, said : The fact that she split with the "Church" was a factor, but hardly a major one. I was not influenced by the "Church' and it was a personal decision".'

CASE HISTORY 1: Patients boycott doctor after challenge

THREE doctors quit the sect primarily in anger over the way followers were being charged increasing amounts for religious instruction.

One of the trio, Dr Stephen Davies, was medical practitioner to the Scientology HQ community in East Grinstead. After his protest, several patients immediately sent him letters of disconnection.

One patient wrote to the sect about the disconnection practice, saying it was 'a danger to those patients who are in immediate and urgent need of medical care and attention, being forced to disconnect from their doctor.'

Dr Davies, an Oxford University graduate, had resigned with his doctor wife Shoura and his partner Dr Alan Steward, of Brighton, Sussex.

The sect's prices had risen so that 121/2 hours of religious instruction can cost more than £4,000.

Dr Davies complained: 'With current prices only the extremely wealthy can still afford to buy upper level services.'

[Picture of Dr Stephen Davies]

Dr Davies, a Scientologist for more than 13 years, practices nutritional non-drug medicine and since 1977 provided medical services to the sect's British headquarters, students and staff.

He said: 'I do not rely on Scientology patients for a living.'

In their joint statement of resignation, the doctors also protested that 'because we are fully aware that Mr. Hubbard's writings encourage the unity of the family, we cannot tolerate misapplication of them that encourage otherwise.'

CASE HISTORY 2: Father snubbed by boy

A MAN with 22 years' senior standing with the sect resigned in disgust at the new disconnections.

Now he says that even his 13-year-old son from a previous marriage has stopped speaking to him. The boy is still in the Scientology group.

The 48-year-old father, Mr. Ronald Biggs, from East Grinstead, said: 'Once I had resigned from the Church, I was effectively disconnected.

'Even though nothing official has been ordered, everyone knows.

'I am divorced but my first family are in the group still, and my son was always very close to me.

'But this week he wrote to me to say that he must disconnect. Resigning is taken to be an act of open hostility.

'My son has believed that it is necessary not to speak to me or visit me, even though it is very upsetting.'

He added: 'There have been people who were "declared" wrongly. There has been a rash of them. You become a non-person. You see somebody in the street and they turn their head away.'

His present wife, a 45-year-old businesswoman, said: 'Families are being broken up.'

CASE HISTORY 3: Children had to leave school, says mother

VICKY Ballard rose to power in the sect but left disillusioned.

She joined in 1972. She said: 'I worked hard, earning only £5 to £10 a week. I lived, slept and ate to help the Church.'

She rose to be commanding officer at the sect's British headquarters in East Grinstead, Sussex, close to where she lives.

But recent years brought a shift in the sect's emphasis, she said. 'All the money was being sent to America, leaving little for staff to pay in Britain.'

She complained. 'Soon I was removed from my post. I was told I was "declared"

'The Church kept trying to separate my husband and me. They tried to "declare" him, and tell him not to sleep with me or live with me--but he ignored that.'

She said her two children, Roland, nine, and Jasmina, 14, who attended Greenfields School, near East Grinstead, were suspended from the school just before Christmas.

The school follows the educational principles of Scientology. Mrs Ballard said: 'Two days before the children were due to re-start, the headmistress said the children would have to leave.'

Headmistress Margaret Hodkin said: 'The parents can be as anti-Scientology as they like-- as long as they don't let their children bring it into the school.

'It is hard for the parents having an upsetting time with the Church, not to disturb their children's home life.'

Now the school's lawyers have invited Vicky Ballard's children to return.

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