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Tower Hamlets "duped by Scientology rehab group"

Title: Tower Hamlets "duped by Scientology rehab group"
Date: Tuesday, 17 May 1994
Publisher: Big Issue (UK)
Author: Anthony Middleton
Main source: link (141 KiB)

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NARCONON, THE drug rehabilitation group which has close links with the controversial Church of Scientology, allegedly "duped" Tower Hamlets Council into referring an alcoholic to them.

Both the Council and the drug agency which placed the addict on Tower Hamlet's behalf said that they would not be referring anyone else to the group.

The Church of Scientology has been consistently criticised by cult watchdogs for its recruitment techniques and financial dealings. Narconon's rehabilitation method is based on the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology's founder. The Big Issue reported last week that the organisation wanted to expand its operation and Narconon's president John Wood announced then that it had gained its first referral from a council social services department.

Before gaining the Tower Hamlets client, Narconon had relied on private patients who could afford the £7,000 fee. Tapping into the subsidised social services referral system would massively increase the number of potential customers for Narconon, as well as giving it official credibility.

But a spokesperson for Tower Hamlets Council, which was first alerted to the client's presence at Narconon by The Big Issue, said, "No one was aware of Narconon's connection with the Church of Scientology, but we would not be willing to pay for rehabilitation with an agency with those connections."

Andy Bullivant, finance director of Tower Hamlets Association of Alcohol Services and Problems (THAASP), which refers alcoholics to detox centres on behalf of the Council, said that THAASP had not known about the group's connections with Scientology when it agreed to pay £750 for a 10-day detox programme.

This only become apparent when he visited Narconon's centre. "It was obvious that everything was based on L Ron Hubbard's teachings," he said. "I told John Wood that we would pull the client out after one more week. If we had known about the connection in the first place we wouldn't have referred the client to this project. We were duped."

In a written statement to The Big Issue, John Wood denied that Narconon had misled THAASP or Tower Hamlets Council. "The only reason they selected Narconon was because they had heard that we were successful."

Later asked if any of Narconon's clients had gone on to join the Church of Scientology, he replied, "I know that a small proportion of addicts cured by Narconon have gone on to take courses with the Church of Scientology."

Ian Haworth of the Cult Information Service, which monitors the activities of groups which recruit members through mind control and deception, said, "It is understandable that the social services were not aware of Narconon's connection with the Church of Scientology. I would hope that this sort of thing doesn't happen again."