Copies of cult book puzzle publisher

The Times, .......

by Charles Oulton


THE PUBLISHERS of a new book on the founder of the Church of Scientology are this weekend attempting to discover how a copy was obtained by the religious cult shortly before it sought an injunction to prevent publication.

A woman member of the cult was arrested last week after she collected seven photocopies of the proof of the biography - Bare Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard - from a copying shop in East Grinstead, Sussex, where the Scientologists' UK operation is based.

The arrest came after a tip by a member of the public who saw the copies being made.

The woman was later released after Richard Clay, the book's printers told police that they had found no evidence that the copy had been taken from their premises in Bungay, Suffolk.

Last Friday, Penguin Books, the publishers, promised to withhold publication until 2pm on Tuesday, but "no longer".

The Church of Scientology of California is seeking an injunction to prevent the publication of the biography by Russell Miller, a former Sunday Times journalist.

It is based on interviews with Hubbard's relatives and former members of the cult and seeks to refute previous official accounts written by members.

The only clue to how the copy fell into outside hands is a request to see the book made two weeks ago by a man claiming to be a doctor of theology. He approached both Richard Clay and Michael Joseph, the Penguin subsidiary which is publishing the book, but his requests were refused.

The copies collected by the woman are now being held by Sussex police because of possible breaches of copyright. Officers at East Grinstead have sent a report on the case to the Sussex Police Authority.

Miller spent more than two years researching the book which is due to be serialised by The Sunday Times in three parts, starting on October 25. It is scheduled to be published by Michael Joseph on October 26.

The Church of Scientology, which has another branch in London's Tottenham Court Road, have been widely criticised for breaking up families.

In the High Court in 1984, Mr Justice Latey described the practices of Hubbard, who died last year, and his helpers as "grimly reminiscent of the ranting and bullying of Hitler and his henchmen".

He said their brainwashing of children at an early age was "training for slavery".

Hubbard, he said, was "obnoxious, a charlatan', and the cult "corrupt, immoral, sinister and dangerous".