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Scientology link denied by group

This is Gloucestershire, 15 October 2001

A drug rehabilitation charity which may set up shop in a Forest of Dean village has denied being anything to do with a controversial religious group.

The charity Narconon admitted it had expressed an interest in buying the Euroclydon Nursing Home in Drybrook, but has denied links with the Church of Scientology.

When the news broke that the village could become home to a drug rehabilitation clinic there was uproar among residents, and rumours abounded that Narconon was part of the religious group.

Noel Nile, director of drug education for Narconon, has now spoken out in an effort to allay fears about the organisation, which he describes as "an international charity."

He said: "It is non-religious and its sole purpose is to work towards a drug-free society. As such, it enjoys the highest drug rehabilitation, currently 70%, and uses no substitute drugs in its programme." He said the organisation's drug education programme has been used in schools throughout the UK and was well respected.

As regards moving to Drybrook, he said: "I should point out that we have only made initial inquiries about the property and nothing else has been initiated."

But he did admit the drugs rehabilitation programme used by Narconon was developed with the research of one L. Ron Hubbard the same Mr Hubbard who founded the Church of Scientology in 1954.

And on the Church's own website Narconon is in fact listed as a group "affiliated" to the Church of Scientology.

News that the old people's home could become a drugs rehabilitation centre has appalled not only people living close to the home but also councillors and village traders.

There is also concern for the future of the residents at the Euroclydon. Mr Niles said Narconon shared these worries, and said the problem would have to be resolved before his organisation could proceed any further. Vice-chairman of the parish council, Colin Smith, said he was totally against a drug rehabilitation clinic in the village.

He said: "This is definitely something we can do without, and people living locally will be horrified at this news."

Council chairman Mabel Beech was also concerned. She said: "Such a development will add to the problems we already have in Drybrook."

A spokesman for Gloucestershire Drug and Alcohol Service (GDAS), which has a base in Cinderford in the Forest, said she had never heard of Narconon.

She said GDAS would recommend anyone who is seeking help to contact a recognised service, such as their own.

Anyone who would like to reach GDAS should contact 01594 825 656.

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