Scientology and the Law

237. Our legal system today is rightly not concerned to restrict thoughts, beliefs, opinions or (with a few exceptions) the honest expression of any of these. Where the system does intervene is to restrain conduct for which there is evidence that it harms others. It is against this background that one has to consider the position of Scientology under our law.

(a) Therapy and claims to cure

238. That the practices of Scientology constitute a therapy, which claims to cure people of their real or imagined ills, must surely be beyond dispute. Many of the claims have already been quoted in earlier chapters of this Report, yet from time to time the Scientology leadership flatly denies that Scientology or Dianetics is a therapy. I have some difficulty in understanding how such denials can be put forward in the face of claims, from the same source, that "Dianetics is the most advanced and the most clearly presented method of psychotherapy and self-improvement ever discovered" (74) that "tiredness, unwanted sensations, bizarre pains and aches, bad hearing or sight . . . routinely respond to Dianetic processing" (75) or that "Scientology . . . has been remarkably effective in handling conditions and various mental states . . . Some 82 per cent of the clinical cases in the records of Scientology organisations show remarkable improvement in mental and physical condition. The records are meticulously kept and comprise the only validation programme of any therapy in Great Britain". (76)

239. Put bluntly, what is often said against the Scientology leadership is that they are quacks, dishonestly exploiting for their own financial gain the hopes of betterment or cure which they hold out to the anxious, the lonely, the inadequate, the credulous and the deluded, but in which they do not themselves believe.

240. For the reasons given in Chapter 2 of this Report, I have not come to any conclusion on the substance of these charges. Such charges are in any case notoriously difficult to prove, since they require proof of a state of mind which the person accused of them has every motive, if he is guilty, to dissimulate. It is only on rare occasions that, in an unguarded moment or perhaps within the inner circle of his co-conspirators, a confidence trickster will himself admit that he does not believe what he tells his victims. It is enough for me to say that there are in this Report quotations from the Scientology leadership's internal policy documents which display an attitude wholly different from that expressed to the public in general, and especially to potential recruits. I have myself refrained from drawing any conclusions and have restricted myself to the publication of the relevant evidence.

(74) Cover of Dianetics: MSMH (1956).
(75) HCO Bulletin of 24th April 1969, quoted in "The Auditor" No. 48
(76) "Have you lived before this life?", p. 16.


241. Even if the Scientology leadership were quacks, I doubt whether they would be committing any offence under English law as it stands. Telling lies is, by itself, no crime, unless the prosecution can prove a dishonest intention to obtain money, goods, services or sexual intercourse. Nor is it any offence to claim to alleviate or even remove most ills (177): were it otherwise, no drug manufacturer who advertises his patent remedies could stay in business for long. (178)

242. The law does not forbid, in general terms, the practice of medicine or surgery by unqualified persons. The medical legislation makes provision, however, for the registration of persons who possess certain medical qualifications, and a person who practises medicine or surgery without being so registered is under serious disabilities as compared with a registered practitioner. Thus, he is forbidden to use any title or description implying that he is a registered practitioner or is recognised by law as a physician or surgeon; he is not entitled to recover in a court of law his charges for medical or surgical attendance or advice; he may not hold certain appointments which are closed except to registered practitioners; and he is not entitled to possess or supply dangerous drugs, and cannot give valid statutory certificates. On the other hand a person can only become a registered practitioner by acquiring a recognised qualification; and once registered he is subject to a strict disciplinary system in regard to his professional conduct. (179)

243. What the law does provide is a civil remedy, in that a patient who is treated with less than the due skill and care he is entitled to expect can recover damages for any harm which he suffers as a result. In the case of Scientology, the exemption clause in their standard contract which I have quoted in paragraph 135 above is designed to bar such an action, though I have some evidence that disenchanted pre-clears who have been forceful enough to sue the organisation for a return of their fees "on a consideration which has wholly failed" have had their cases successfully settled without the courts being troubled with a trial.

244. The Scientology leadership themselves told me that "the normal procedure when a person asks for a refund is for him or her to be given a refund with as little delay as possible. Only if the claim appears to be wholly unjustified on any grounds, do we contest the claim. There have been only two of these . . ."

245. The policy on which Parliament appears to have acted in the past is to control only those dangers which are not immediately obvious. Thus there is no law which prevents me from hiring a wholly unqualified surgeon to amputate my leg, but there is a law which prevents me from buying certain drugs at my chemist's without a prescription from a qualified medical man. This seems to me to make good sense: having my leg cut off is obviously a dangerous business, but the tiny pink pill which could kill me just as easily may look quite harmless in the palm of my hand.


(177) There are statutory exceptions for cancer and venereal disease in the Cancer Act 1939 and the Venereal Disease Act 1917.
(178) There are only eight named diseases for the cure of which drugs must not be publicly advertised: Pharmacy & Medicine Act 1941.
(179) Halsbury's Laws of England, 3rd ed., vol. 26, para 2.


246. The question, therefore, which I have to consider is whether there is a case for legislation in the United Kingdom to control the practice of psychological medicine. I have come to the clear conclusion that there is, and that the case is a strong one. In what follows, I set out the arguments as they appear to me.

247. Let me begin by defining some terms. The human being likes to divide himself into a "body" and a "mind". Whether the division corresponds to any independent reality is a question which I prefer to leave to philosophers: it is enough to say here that not everyone agrees on where or how the dividing line should be drawn, but that medical men of most disciplines nowadays agree that, even if the two do have separate existences they interact strongly with each other. Some go so far as to say that all diseases are "psychosomatic", involving both the body and the mind. The mind in turn can usefully be described as behaving at times rationally and at other times irrationally: we are apt to describe the former as the functioning of our "intellect", and the latter as that of our "emotions". Those who study and treat our minds call themselves by a variety of names depending largely on the schools of theory and practice which they follow. For simplicity, and to avoid becoming entangled in technical detail, I shall label those who study the workings of (largely) our intellect "psychologists" and those who seek to alleviate or cure such of our illnesses as are thought to be of (mainly emotional) mental origin "psychiatrists". Psychologists often specialise in different branches of their subject, so that we have, for example, educational psychologists (who study how we learn), and industrial psychologists (who study us at work). Psychiatrists, broadly speaking, practise two distinct kinds of therapy: "physical" medicine, which seeks to affect our minds through our bodies by material interventions such as electric shocks or drugs; and "psychological" medicine, which seeks to affect our minds directly and without any material intervention (180). For this last technique I propose to use the expression "psychotherapy", regardless of the particular school or discipline - such as "psychoanalysis" or "analytical psychology" - which the therapist happens to follow. It will be immediately obvious that, in this terminology, Scientologists practise both psychology (in that they measure intelligence quotients and claim to improve them) and psychotherapy ("auditing" in particular and "processing" in general). This is indeed common ground. Mr Hubbard himself describes Scientology and Dianetics as "that branch of psychology which treats human ability" (181) and as "the first thoroughly validated psychotherapy". (182)

248. Psychotherapy is a relatively new technique. Despite the often asserted proposition that it has been practised for centuries in the Roman Catholic confessional, its origin as a treatment for the relief or cure of illness is to be found with Professor Siegmund Freud. It was he who first put forward, as a limited hypothesis subject to later disproof by the application of scientific method, the theory that our emotions go through certain stages of development in childhood, that their dynamics are predictable in broad terms, and that it is possible for a skilled therapist to intervene in those


(180) I am aware that all these expressions are frequently used in other senses: I am concerned here only to give convenient labels for the purpose of the discussion which follows.
(181) Fundamentals of Thought, p. 11.
(182) Scientology 8-8008, p. 90.


dynamics by a complex pattern of verbal communication with his patient on an emotional level. Whatever reservations may still be held on Freud's thesis, the techniques have been developed for the best part of three quarters of a century and are practised today by tens of thousands of psychotherapists throughout the world.

249. Enough is now known about the techniques of psychotherapy to establish the following propositions, with which l think few practising psychiatrists would disagree:-

(a) given the right conjunction of therapist and patient, psychotherapy can do much to relieve the latter's suffering;

(b) on the other hand, there are certain conditions (often recognisable only to an expert in the field) which respond very little, or not at all, to psychotherapy, whoever performs it;

(c) the techniques of psychotherapy are exceedingly complex and require great skill and long experience for their successful application;

(d) the possibilities of harm to the patient from the abuse, or the unskilled use, of these techniques are at least as great as the possibilities of good in the right hands.

250. One special aspect of psychotherapy requires mention here, and that is the so-called "transference" effect. From his earliest days, Freud observed that his patients were apt to transfer to him many of the emotions which had, for one reason or another, remained unresolved in their childhood, so that during the course of treatment he became the object of their most deeply seated feelings of love and hatred, of greed and generosity, of envy and gratitude, and often of sexuality. Such a situation imposes a considerable strain on the therapist, and places a great weight of responsibility upon him. More than ever today, psychotherapists regard the ultimate dissolution of the transference at the end of the treatment as the most difficult, and yet the crucial, part of their task.

251. This very brief sketch of certain features of what has now become the principle technique in the armoury of modern psychological medicine (in my sense of the term) is necessarily over-simplified and incomplete, but I have said enough to explain why I have reached the conclusion that the intervention of Parliament has become necessary. Here is a classic case of something which appears to the uninitiated as a wholly harmless procedure: all that you would see in a psychotherapist's consulting room is two people - or sometimes a group of people - talking to each other. Yet the danger in anything other than the most skilled hands is great and, what is worse, the possibilities of abuse by the unscrupulous are immense. The trained and selfless practitioner is concerned only to convert the deep emotional dependence on him which his patient develops during the treatment into an ability on the patient's part to wean himself from the therapist, and to achieve the maturity, and the independent ability to make relationships by choice, which are the aim of most of us. But it is fatally easy for the unscrupulous therapist, who knows enough to create the dependence in the first place, to exploit it for years on end to his own advantage in the form of a steady income, to say nothing of the opportunities for sexual gratification. While


the latter would rapidly spell the end of a medically qualified therapist's practice at the hands of the General Medical Council, that body has no jurisdiction over therapists who do not happen to be doctors.

252. Further, it will not have escaped attention that those who feel they need psychotherapy tend to be the very people who are most easily exploited: the weak, the insecure, the nervous, the lonely, the inadequate, and the depressed, whose desperation is often such that they are willing to do and pay anything for some improvement of their condition.

253. In all this, there are analogies with a number of skilled activities which have been practised for much longer. Lawyers, doctors, architects and nurses, for example, all put at their client's service, for reward, intricate skills of which the clients are ignorant and which they must largely take on trust. All of them are conscious of the dependence which their professional relationships tend to create, and of the harm which they could do if they failed to use all their skill, or exploited the dependence in a selfish fashion.

254. The traditional method which we have used in this country-and which has been used in many others-to protect the weak from the exploitation which such a dependence makes possible, while ensuring that those skilled in their speciality can give of their best, is to create a controlled "profession". This involves the setting up of a body (generally called a "Council") having authority over those who practise the particular skill concerned, leaving it to the Council to work out minimum standards of expertise for admission to the profession, a code of ethics and the exercise of disciplinary powers to enforce it, while the law places restraints of one sort or another upon the practice for reward of the particular skills concerned to those recognised as qualified by the Council.

255. Such a system has worked excellently in the past, and by and large the public has been well served by it. It ensures that those who are allowed to practise the skills without legal restriction have been properly trained in them, are fully aware of the moral responsibilities involved in their exercise, and that their continued livelihood depends on their continued discharge of those responsibilities. According to a recent Report of the Monopolies Commission (183), there are at the present time in this country no fewer than 19 separate professions regulated in this fashion, whose members add up to over 850,000 people.

256. The price which we pay for such a system is some limitation on the opportunity to consult unqualified practitioners, and while in theory this restricts our freedom I doubt whether there are many who would, with all the relevant information at their disposal, take serious objection to this. Another disadvantage has sometimes been the resistance to innovation displayed by institutional bodies, but this is in my view heavily outweighed by the reduction of the risks involved in releasing revolutionary techniques on an unsuspecting public before their potential dangers have been fully investigated.


(83) Report on Professional Services (Cmnd. 4463), Part II, Table IV.


257. It may be instructive at this point to return for a moment to Siegmund Freud. In his lifetime, there was much debate in Austria on the question of whether the practice of psychoanalysis should be limited to qualified medical practitioners. Freud took the view that it should not - not because he thought that anyone and everyone could safely practise it, but because he did not think that a qualification in physical medicine was enough. In effect, he regarded psychoanalysis as a profession sui generis. In a book (184) devoted to the question, he said this:-
"No one should practise analysis who has not acquired the right to do so by a particular training. Whether such a person is a doctor or not seems to me immaterial" (185).

"The conditions will have to be laid down under which the practice of analysis shall be permitted to all those who seek to make use of it, an authority will have to be set up from whom one can learn what analysis is and what sort of preparation is needed for it, and the possibilities for instruction in analysis will have to be encouraged" (186).

"The analyst should possess personal qualities that make him trustworthy, and should have acquired the knowledge and understanding as well as the experience which alone can make it possible for him to fulfil his task" (187).

"the important question is not whether an analyst possesses a medical diploma but whether he has had the special training necessary for the practice of analysis" (188).

258. These, then, are the grounds on which I have become convinced that it is high time that the practice of psychotherapy for reward should be restricted to members of a profession properly qualified in its techniques, and trained - as all organised professions are trained - to use the patient's dependence which flows from the inherent inequality of the relationship only for the good of the patient himself, and never for the exploitation of his weakness to the therapist's profit. Such legislation already exists in a number of states in Europe, the Commonwealth and the United States.

259. That it is the phenomenon of Scientology which has pointed out this need in the existing law is a matter on which, if it is the leadership's sincere desire to help humanity, they will have cause to congratulate themselves. Without coming to any conclusion on whether they in fact exploit their followers for their own profit, or whether it is desirable for auditors who may have had only a few weeks' training since they came to Scientology with problems of their own, to be encouraged to practice psychotherapeutic


(184) The Question of Lay Analysis
(185) p. 233
(186) p. 238.
(187) p. 244.
(188) pp. 251-2.


techniques on those who, ex hypothesi, are sitting targets for exploitation, the mere fact that such a situation could easily be abused at the present time with impunity demonstrates the urgent need for reform.

260. The details of the legislation which I recommend will need to be worked out by all parties concerned: Parliament, the relevant Departments, and the psychotherapists themselves. No doubt problems will arise, but I know of none which cannot be solved. In my view, the following are among the matters which will have to be borne in mind:-

(a) Clearly, it is only the practice of psychotherapy for fee or reward in cash or kind, paid by or on behalf of the patient, which needs to be controlled, since in a very wide sense we all practise some kind of psychotherapy on each other in our personal relationships, and many voluntary organisations try to help people with "counselling";

(b) I see no reason why (as in the recommendations of the Anderson Board (189)), doctors, dentists, ministers of religion, social workers and marriage guidance counsellors should be exempted from the provisions of this legislation: if any of these wish to charge their patients or clients for practising psychotherapy on them, there is no reason why they should not first satisfy the Council that they have undergone the necessary training and obtained the necessary qualifications.

(c) the new profession's governing body will need to have power to make transitional arrangements for the admission of persons with limited or even no formal qualifications if they can qualify on the grounds of past experience in the field and are willing to satisfy any necessary tests and submit themselves to the appropriate ethical code.

(d) when psychotherapy was first developed, its concepts were revolutionary and Freud had to contend with much opposition before his theories found general acceptance. The subject is young and still developing rapidly. Clearly, the new profession's rules will need to be more flexible than those adopted at the present time by, say, lawyers and accountants. Had the medical profession been able to exclude osteopaths from practice in the past, much suffering might have gone unrelieved. It is therefore important to ensure that progress is not inhibited by the kind of conservatism which has, on occasions, tended to afflict some of the older professional bodies, particularly in the medical field. The best method of avoiding this pitfall is to provide for the appointment to the Council of a number of radically-minded laymen who will act as a leaven.

261. I see no reason at the present time why the practice of psychology (in my sense of the term) should be professionally restricted. The dangers inherent in an incompetent assessment of someone's intellectual capabilities or his fitness for a particular employment, albeit regrettable, do not appear to me to be of a comparable order with those resulting from an abuse, or an incompetent use, of a system of therapy which operates by a deliberate intervention in the patterns of people's irrational emotions.


(189) Anderson Report, p. 171.


262. Finally, I should say that I disagree profoundly with the legislation adopted in both Western and South Australia, in turn based on part of that adopted in Victoria, whereby the teaching and practice of Scientology as such is banned. Such legislation appears to me to be discriminatory and contrary to all the best traditions of the Anglo-Saxon legal system. I cannot see any reason why Scientologists should not be allowed to practise psychotherapy if they satisfy the proposed professional body that they are qualified to do so, that their techniques are sound, that their practitioners receive adequate training and operate under a stringent ethical code, and that there is no hint of exploitation. If it is indeed, as they claim, "the first thoroughly validated psychotherapy", the profession will welcome them with open arms. And should its governing body decide, as has been done in many professions, that it is unethical to advertise for patients or to make unqualified claims to cure, I have no doubt that the Scientology leadership, if its sincerity is genuine, will be happy to conform to these standards.

(b) The privileged position of religious bodies

263. One other matter of substance has arisen in the course of this Enquiry which, in my view, merits further consideration, and that is the variety of privileges which the laws of this country confer upon associations of mortals who combine for religious purposes. The source of these privileges - some of which are of substantial economic value - is to be found in the remoter parts of our history, and it appears to me to be debateable what correlative benefit our society today derives from their continued existence.

264. The privileges themselves are numerous, and occur sporadically and without much logic in a number of areas. The more important ones are these:

(1) "The advancement of religion" is one of the three main purposes which validates a "charity" in law - the others being the advancement of education and the relief of the poor. Charitable bodies (i.e. trusts or corporations) enjoy the advantage of exemption from income tax and surtax (190), and Capital Gains Tax (191), to the extent to which their income or gains are applied for charitable purposes; gifts to them are not void for perpetuity or inalienability as they would be if made to anyone else; and charitable corporations may be exempted by the Board of Trade from adding the word "Limited" to their names (192). Nor do charities pay Selective Employment Tax (193), so that the domestic servants of a minister of religion, if they are employed by his Church, do not attract this levy while most other domestic servants do.

(2) By Statute (194) a place may be registered as a place of religious worship, and if it is it will be exempt from all rates (195) and contributions to roadworks (196) and sewers (197).


(190) Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970, s.360.
(191) ibid, and Finance Act 1965, Section 35(1).
(192) Companies Act 1948, Section 19(1).
(193) Selective Employment Payments Act 1966, Section 5.
(194) Places of Worship Registration Act 1855.
(195) Rating and Valuation Act 1925, Section 2(3) and 3(2).
(196) Private Street Works Act 1892, Section 16.
(197) Public Health Act 1875, Section 151.


265. Whether or not it may be thought desirable to continue to confer these privileges on bona fide religions having a substantial following, there seems to me to be a clear need for precautions which will ensure that there can be no abuse. As matters stand, it is enough for any small group of people to come together and claim to believe in, and worship, a deity, and this is clearly not good enough in the light of the great economic value of the privileges concerned.

266. In these circumstances, I recommend that the time is ripe for a review of the law which accords these privileges to religious bodies, with the object of at least ensuring that they are restricted to religious movements having a substantial number of adherents, and engaging in genuine acts of worship.

267. Any such review of the law must obviously not detract in any way from the existing tolerance of religious belief, whether it be Christian, Jewish, infidel or heathen, but should confine itself to regulating more strictly the fiscal exemptions which religious bodies can enjoy.

(c) Miscellaneous

268. Two further matters deserve mention. First, I am struck by the ease with which "non-profit-making" companies or associations are able to escape the payment of taxes, even if they are not charities. An ordinary business pays tax on the whole of its income, after deducting only those expenses incurred "wholly and exclusively" for the purpose of the business, and the Inland Revenue authorities not unnaturally subject these expenses to close scrutiny. But in the case of an organisation which renders paid services only to its members, the system is different: a principle of "mutuality" is applied, with the result that the full income from the members (in the form of fees) escapes taxation at that point, and so do donations from non-members. Moreover, if the organisation then distributes its surplus by way of donations to associated companies, or even to individuals, these payments are still not assessable to tax because they are "voluntary" payments. If the services were sold to the general public who are not "members", such an organisation would have to pay taxes like everyone else, and only legitimate business expenses would be deductible; but considering the ease with which one can enrol "members", the distinction strikes me as artificial. This aspect of our tax system is in my opinion ripe for review.

269. Payments such as those shown in the Scientology Companies' accounts as being made to other Scientology organisations, or to Mr or Mrs Hubbard, who are not residents of the sterling area, of course require the consent of the Bank of England under the Exchange Control Act.

270. The other matter which deserves attention is the failure of a number of the Scientology companies to file accounts and annual returns within the time prescribed by the law, without apparently incurring any sanction at the hands of the Registrar of Companies. These sanctions seem to me pointless if they are not enforced.


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