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Papers reveal sect's dirty tricks

The Guardian, Thursday 7 February 1980, Front page

By David Beresford

The Church of Scientology ran international "dirty tricks" operations under the direction of the church executives at their headquarters in Sussex, according to new evidence which has emerged in the United States.

The Scientologists tapped telephones, smeared critics, burgled offices and spied on the private lives of public figures.

One British public figure who was a target of their private "intelligence" operations was the eminent British QC, Sir John Foster. A former MP, Sir John headed Britain's Commission of Inquiry into Scientology, which was set up in 1969 and reported in December 1971.

Innternal Scientology documents released in the US show that in July 1972 agents working for the sect's internal intelligence service tried to find out details about "young women" who purportedly stayed at Sir John's apartment in New York.

The documents also show that the head of the Scientology cult, Mr L Ron Hubbard, issued provisional instructions to have a private detective investigate the life of Lord Balniel.

The instruction was given in 1966 after Lord Balniel, now the Earl of Crawford, had pressed the Government to set up an inquiry into Scientology.

The Scientologists also developed a complicated plan - involving covert agents - to sue Scotland Yard, according to the documents.

The investigation into Sir John Foster's affairs was apparently an attempt to establish a link between him and an attractive New York author and freelance journalist, Miss Paulette Cooper, who is a well-known critic of Scientology in America.

Miss Cooper has been the target of a long-running Scientology campaign of vilification and harassment. At one stage, the church suceeded in having her indicted by a Federal Grand Jury on false charges of making bomb threats, and of perjury.

The Washington documents show that Miss Cooper was the victim of the Scientologists' intelligence service, which is controlled by the organisation's so-called "Guardian's Office" at East Grinstead, Sussex.

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Sect's 'dirty tricks' revealed

These latest disclosures about the Church of Scientology coincide with a growing political controversy over a long-standing Government ban on Scientologists entering the UK.

Last July an all-party motion was tabled in the Commons by Mr Peter Ross, a Conservative MP, which said: "This House is concerned at the infringement of the usual principle of British justice in the case of the Church of Scientology where evidence said to have been held by the Department of Health and Social Security since 1968 has never been revealed; and calls upon the Secretary of State to publish it in full, or otherwise ask the Home Secretary to lift the ban on overseas members of the Church who wish to enter the UK to study or work at Scientology establishments"

The motion, headed "Justice for Scientologists," has so far been signed by 67 MPs.

An amendment was tabled last week by another Conservative MP, Mr John Hunt, which said: "This house is concerned at the documented evidence from the USA indicating a conspiracy to infiltrate federal agencies and steal Government documents; and strongly urges the Secretary of State for the Home Department to maintain his ban on the entry of known Scientologists into the UK."

Mr Hunt said he appreciated that the immigration ban on Scientologists was unique.

He said that if any similar evidence was forthcoming on other cults or groups he would favour extending the ban.

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