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"Evil Cult Stole My Brother!"

Scientologists accused of wrecking family life

East Grinstead Observer (UK local paper) 29 June 1994

[This appears to be a front page story, but it isn't absolutely clear from the clipping that I have.]

A GRIEF-stricken man has accused East Grinstead's sinister Scientology cult of stealing his brother from his family.

Heartbroken John Phelan says his brother Tony is now a virtual prisoner of the organisation, slammed by a British judge as "corrupt immoral brainwashers."

This week officials at the cult's European HQ Saint Hill Manor, East Grinstead, refused to discuss the case with the Observer.

Now the anguished Phelan family have threatened to step up their campaign against the Church of Scientology, unless Tony is "released" to them.

"We're trying to make as much of a nuisance of ourselves as possible until the Scientologists let him out," said John.

"This evil cult stole my brother from his family, and we want him back" added the distraught Irishman.

He said Tony, a single man in his 30's took up with the cult in 1989, when he was emotionally vulnerable and consumed with grief over the death of his mother.

Since then, said John, he had put on weight, stopped playing the guitar, and lost his £30,000 a year engineering job.

He said Tony was a changed person coming out with "weird things," and spending his money on courses at Saint Hill and the cult's other premises.

"If I get upset about the cult then Tony will get fiercely angry. You're not getting real contact with him," said John.

The family, from Tipperary, Ireland, said Tony is under an evil form of mind control".

And John claims there have been threats of unspecified reprisals against the family for talking to the Press about the cult.

But in a letter to an Irish newspaper, Scientology officer Gerard Ryan says the allegations of "brainwashing" and Tony being a "prisoner" are "nonsense".

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