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Open Letter to a Times columnist

The Column

Professor Gary Slapper of the Open University Business School wrote a colum in the Times Online (the web site of the Times newspaper), The Law Explored: the law and Scientology, published 23rd January 2008.

My Letter

Dear Professor Slapper,

thanks for your informative recent column in the Times on Scientology. I hope you don't mind a few brief queries:

Why no mention of the Latey judgement in 1985 which described Scientology as "corrupt, sinister and dangerous", with justification for those terms? (Re B & G (Minors) [1985] Family Law Reports 134 and 493). Did you not mention it or was it edited out by The Times?

When you describe Scientology as a "perfectly lawful" organisation, do you have evidence that the policy which led to the illegal infiltration of government offices (which led to criminal convictions for eleven top Scientologists in the US and the criminal conviction of the church in Canada) has been changed? The Stipulation of Evidence in United States v.s Mary Sue Hubbard et al. (1979) describes criminal actions of enormous scope. [These are summarised in the book "A Piece of Blue Sky" by Jon Atack]

Why no mention of the libel campaigns Scientology has carried out against opponents in this country, such as Bonnie Woods (1999), Mr Geoffrey Johnson Smith MP (1970) or Professor Sir Martin Roth (1990)? [Thanks to R. Hill for pointing out that I could have included Kenneth Robinson (1973), the Minister for Health]

"Their opponents say they use badgering techniques and doubt the legitimacy of their beliefs." - what sources were consulted for this odd statement? Why miss out the charges that were made in the official government report into Scientology (the Foster Report of 1971)? Again, is this down to heavy editing by The Times?

I hope you don't mind if I publish your response.

Thanks in advance, Dr. Martin Poulter

The Reply

Dear Martin,

Thank you for your interest. No, the piece was not heavily edited. It is part of a series of short legal articles I write picking out some important legal points in stories of current interest. Necessarily, in 850 words I can be only very concise. Your list of cases contains many interesting areas to explore but coverage of its contents would have extended the piece well beyond my word limit. If I ever visit the theme again at greater length I shall have a chance to go into greater analytic detail.

Best wishes,


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