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Scientologists Take Legal Action Over Television Investigations

The Guardian, July 12, 1995, Copyright 1995 Guardian Newspapers Limited


LENGTH: 467 words

BYLINE: John Mullin

THE Church of Scientology yesterday issued private summonses against a production company and a reporter over their investigations for a Carlton television programme on the organisation due to be screened tomorrow.

Lawyers for Carlton are expected to attempt to have the summonses, due to be answered on July 27, overturned in court today. It says the summonses are an attempt to gag it, by making the issue sub judice. The church denied that, saying it had not tried to injunct Carlton.

The Church of Scientology had summonses issued at City of London magistrates' court against Twenty Twenty Television, which made the programme, executive producer Claudia Milne, and reporter Alison Braund. It alleges they obtained services by deception, an offence under the Theft Act.

The church claimed last night Ms Braund, who attended a course at the church's headquarters, in East Grinstead, West Sussex, last month, did so under false pretences, representing her purpose as exclusively religious and spiritual. Suspicions were aroused by her heavy dark glasses, which she refused to remove. The church believes they concealed video equipment.

Greg Ryerson, director of special affairs at the church, said it had interviewed Ms Braund about her motives for visiting, and covertly video-taped her. He alleged she had taken documents from the interviewer's desk when he left the room. East Grinstead police were called, and were considering what action to take, he said.

Carlton is defending Ms Braund's conduct. Ms Milne said: "This is a blatant attempt to prevent the broadcast of an important programme dealing with a matter of public interest."

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