back to article Teen battles City of London cops over anti-Scientology placard

Anti-Scientology campaigners are up in arms after it emerged that City of London police issued a court summons to a teenager for displaying a sign that branded the Hollywood-bothering, UFO-fancying sect a "cult". The incident occurred on 10 May outside Scientology's controversial Square Mile headquarters, at a rally …


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This is the full text of SCHNEWS 632 Brighton activists group newsletter concerning the incident.

"City of London police have been cracking down hard on religious

intolerance this week and on one four letter word in particular - CULT. And

when does the word cult become illegal? Curiously only when it's

applied to the Church of Scientology (CoS) - and in the Square Mile.

Around two-hundred anti-Scientology protesters gathered outside the CoS

London base on Queen Victoria Street last Saturday as part of a day

of action. Sporting Guy Fawkes masks, many carried signs accusing the

organisation of being a cult. They were greeted by a number of City

of London Police.

At 11.20, two officers approached one 15-year-old who was wearing a

huge-nosed mask and holding a sign saying "Scientology is not a religion

- it is a dangerous cult". He was handed a pre-printed warning by a

WPC stating, "The sign you are displaying commits an offence under

Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 .. you are strongly advised to

remove the sign with immediate effect". He riposted with a verbatim

quote from a verdict given by Justice Latey in 1984 "Some might regard

this as an extension of the entertaining science fiction which

Hubbard used to write before he invented and founded the cult . .

Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious."

One cop (A747) told SchNEWS' man on the scene that, "the idea is that

if somebody gets prosecuted there will be a test case" Police were

clearly out to protect CoS's reputation with one officer telling us,

"Our solicitors at the Crown Prosecution Service have advised us that

any signs saying 'Scientology is a cult' could be deemed offensive." He

added "They are being treated as a religious organisation for the

purposes of today".

Ten minutes later and the cops returned. The youth was chased up an

alleyway and then forced to hand over his details for a court summons.

So why the sudden desire to defend Scientology so strenuously? One

explanation is that a lifetime's exposure to masonic ceremony has made

London's top cops a little more suggestible than the rest of us. Might

they now be being sucked in by cult founder L. Ron Hubbard's daffy

load of old cobblers?


A more mundane explanation is that CoS has been very generous to our

friends in blue. They're not short of a few quid - after all Hubbard

himself pointed out "If a man really wants to make a million dollars he

should start his own religion." Basic introductory sessions for

Scientology cost up to £80. the next costs £300 etc etc. In October, a

£24 million Scientology centre opened in the heart of London's Square

Mile, one of 30 "missions" in the country, including a massive HQ in

East Grinstead. Up to 20 officers in the City of London Police - from

constables to superintendents - have accepted hospitality worth

thousands from CoS, including invites to a £500-a-head charity dinner

where the guest of honour was Tom Cruise. One senior police officer

appeared in a Church of Scientology video and another, Chief

Superintendent Kevin Hurley, spoke at the opening of the new "mission" saying the

cult was "raising the spiritual wealth of society".

Two hours later, a similar demo was held, but this time outside the

City Police's jurisdiction. A bunch of 'cults' on signs were evident but

the Met, perhaps as yet unconverted, had no corresponding

mind-yer-language problem.

Whatever the dubious nature of the hand-in-glove relations between the

City cops and the cranks, their pre-meditated use of police powers to

crackdown on freedom of speech at demos fails to reflect the

'inalienable rights to expression' or brotherhoodly love preached by the

cultists... "


SchNEWS warns all readers - we're not a sinister cult, we're a

pseudo-non-hierarchical rhizomatic horizontal collective. Honest!

Cowards are anon.

Anonymous Coward

who owns

It wouldn't be the first time the co-opted an anti-cult site. See also I'm not sure if it's the same one, but I recall an anti-cult organization in the US being bankrupted by the COS, the lawyers of which took it over and the web site then went very luke warm on the dangers of cults like scientology. What was sinister was that it was the kind of site that most poeple would go looking for information on the dangers of cults like COS, little knowing that it was being run by them. A very sinister organization.

In case you aren't already aware of it, the prime function of audition is to gather as much compromising information on you as is possible, to be used to blackmail you and disuade you on going public on the real nature of COS. For instance a youthfull sexual indiscrition in a 'restroom', will be dragged out and sent to your current employers.

"Shawn Lonsdale .. was found dead at his home over the weekend in an apparent suicide"

A very very sinister organization.


This just in: It was Cult Awareness Network that was assimilated by the COS ..

"Expert Information available Legal repercussions and information on harmfull effects of deprogramming" .. :)


Where are all the solicitors?

Solicitors & barristers seem to find time to protect the human rights of scum like Peter Sutcliffe but can't help the young lad in this case, why not?

Also isn't this a clear case of contempt of court by CoLP, a High Court judge has ruled CoS to be a cult, a young man is arrested for saying so therefore the CoLP are disregarding the courts ruling ergo contempt of court. Simple now we just need a honest solicitor with the balls to act honourably.



Having been exposed to Scientology, but in no way believing in it (I was a local councillor in a town where many Scientologists live, and commute to work at Saint Hill Manor (, and got involved in numerous 'disputes' locally on the issue (for example -, I find some of the comments above rather blinkered.

Let me say again, I in no way believe in or support scientology, before I hear cries of CoS In The House or similar.

Why blinkered? Because people are always reticent to draw comparisons between their own 'religion' and that which scientology 'sells'.

Take the issue of money, for example. People bemoan the CoS for the way in which members have to keep contributing to its coffers. But this is no different to the CoE, for example, except here its called a 'tithe' - you speak to your local parish church and the recommended 'contribution' level is 10% of your income, plus you're expected to dip your hand in your pocket every time you go to a meeting (sorry, service).

How about their recruitment methods? Absolutely, the CoS aggressively recruits people in to its folds, and once in they'll never let you go. Compare that with the Jehova's Witnesses. It took some rather forcible phone calls from myself to one 'church' for them to stop harrassing my mother-in-law. She had been 'recruited' but decided after a few meetings that she no longer wished to go - they didn't like that idea at all, and their behaviour reflected that fact.

But what about all this Thetan nonsense, doesn't the CoS believe that we are ruled by aliens that live in Jupiter or Saturn? An old rumour this one, but let's take it as fact. What they would be saying is that they believe that some 'superior' being, that lives beyond Earth, controls our lives. Sound similar?

What about some of their other beliefs? To me, a lot of the CoS beliefs are complete and utter nonsense. They could not possibly prove that some of their statements are true. Take the above example, they're not about to prove - scientifically - that what they are saying is true. Surely they're not implying that we just have to accept what they are saying, are they? What basis is that for a 'religion'? Oh - the same as every other religion out there - its fundamentally based upon faith, not fact.

But look at all the money that they are making, its disgraceful. Absolutely - but again, let's check some facts on our 'own' religions. The church of england is something like the third biggest landowner in the UK. Regular church attendance is dropping. So why don't they rationalise the churches they have got, and use that land to offer to people something that is really needed - affordable housing, green play space or youth centres? Not going to happen is it?

What the police did here is absolutely wrong, but don't get carried away and jump on the bandwagon, and please take those blinkers off - after all, the opinions being shouted here aren't very 'Christian', are they?

Anonymous Coward

I rather like the word cult

It has a cool 'culty' ring to it.

Yeah, the hypocrisy going on here is stupendous.

There are much bigger things to be fighting for than an end to Scientology. Oh I don't know, free speech perhaps.

Wouldn't it be ironic if the anti scientologists and the scientologists became friends over this.

Scientology has big enemies, mainly the psychiatric field, I am interested to know who is pulling the strings behind the anti scientology movement, and not so much the 15 year old brainywashede pawns.

Both sides are pretty much cultesquee, pot or kettle hard to tell'em apart on that point. And what about those police protests, those baseball caps could have been seen as menacing.

I think we are just caught in a constant selfish power struggle, no party seems particular benevolent to the whole, oh well eye for an eye and all that.



Can't they just register "The Church of Scientology is a Cult" as a company. Then instead of a protest have large visible "Advertising Campaigns"?


Re Unlawful. Period.

The words have their ordinary meaning Anon Coward. The problem is that the phrase is so wide that it covers of multitude of situations. Which is why section 5 is so liked by the police.

But under section 5(3)(c) X needs to show, inter alia, that his "conduct was reasonable.” Further by section 6(4) "a person is guilty of an offence under section 5 only if he intends … the writing, sign or other visible representation, to be threatening, abusive or insulting, or is aware that it may be threatening, abusive or insulting."

So in the pre-HRA case DPP v. Clarke [1992] 94 Cr. App. R. 359 the magistrates dismissed informations issued against a group of anti-abortion protestors who stood peacefully outside a clinic holding placards of aborted fetuses. The bench accepted that they did not intend the placards to be threatening, abusive or insulting. And this was despite the sole witness, a policeman, who said he was upset. The poor flower.

So if the defences are properly applied and the offence is read down by the court using the HRA to give free speech its proper weight it shouldn't go any further.



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