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We Live In Fear

Cult threatens legal action over defamation

Tonbridge Courier, Friday, 14 July 1995

By Sheila Gow

THE THREAT of legal action hangs over a young Tonbridge man who is accused of conspiring to "injure and defame" the Church of Scientology.

But Richard and Judy Price of Lionel Road, claim that they have done nothing unlawful - they are just fearful for the welfare of a close relative who joined the organisation - and are now suffering from harassment and intimidation.

After Richard's sister became a church member five years ago, they sought help from a support group in a bid to get her out.

They also spoke to a researcher from a programme, The Big Story, which claimed to expose Scientology as a cult masquerading as a religion and was scheduled for transmission last night (Thursday).

Legal investigators acting for the cult have twice been to the Prices' house - the last time at nearly midnight when a letter was pushed through the door and a man was heard running away. The couple reported the incidents to police.

"It was very frightening - I dont want unsolicited people at the house late at night," Judy said, "I couldn't sleep because of it and I now feel very insecure. I know that we are opposed to Scientology but this is a free country and we have a right to speak our minds. We have done nothing unlawful - we have just tried to get Richard's sister out of it."

A letter from East Grinstead solicitor, Peter Hodkin, accused Richard of taking part in The Big Story campaign and claimed that "other unlawful and tortuous acts are planned." He warned of possible actions in nuisance, trespass, defamation and public order offences.

Judy said that her husband became very worried when his sister joined the group.

"She was very excited but he realised it was bad news," she said, "When he tried to talk to her about it she became very unpleasant and shunned us and it completely changed her character."

They hope that by sharing their experiences they can warn others who could become involved simply by answering questions from High Street researchers or taking part in personality tests.

Spokesman for the Scientogists, Peter Mansell, said that it was not the church's policy to frighten or cause distress. He had not seen the solicitor's letter but felt that it had been sent to anyone thought to be connected with the television programme.

I "dont think it was anything personal," he said. "It was probably just a warning for the benefit of those that had been interviewed. I have problems with people who oppose our beliefs but so many of the stories that are spread about us are wrong."

Mr Mansell said that the church had also suffered harassment from the television reporters making the programme. "So who is bugging who?" he asked.

[caption:] Richard and Judy Price who claim they are suffering from harassment and intimidation from the Church of Scientolgy after a close relative joined the organisation.

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