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A town they took over

Title: A town they took over
Date: Sunday, 28 July 1968
Publisher: Sunday Mirror (UK)
Author: Bruce Maxwell
Main source: link (163 KiB)

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SCIENTOLOGY chiefs are staging an all-out drive to get new British recruits—despite Government action to curb the "harmful" cult.

So far the chief effect of the Government clampdown is to restrict foreign students going to the "mind-training" cult's world HQ at St. Hill Manor, East Grinstead, Sussex.

Under existing law no action can be taken to ban British Scientologists, although Health minister Kenneth Robinson has promised to "consider other measures should they prove necessary."

This is small comfort to the residents of East Grinstead—a town virtually taken over by the weird sect.

Residents say foreign students can easily find ways to avoid the new entry rules, and that most of the foreign-born scientology chiefs have lived in Britain long enough to be residents anyway.

Mr. James Ellis, 51, landlord of the Rose and Crown public house in East Grinstead, which was recently "outlawed" by the Scientologists, had this to say about the situation:

"All now depends on how much sense we British people have got.

"If the Scientologists don't get many British recruits it could have some effect.


"Most of the people at St. Hill Manor are Americans, Australians and South Africans.

"You can sell an American anything if the price is high enough, but I don't think our people will fall for it despite this recruiting drive."

Mr. Ellis added: "Let's face it. You'd have to be barmy to wander around town with big badges pinned to you saying: 'Please do not speak to me—I am under process.' "

Mr. Ivor Jones, 43, a local councillor whose farm adjoins St. Hill Manor, said:

"If there are enough silly Englishmen to take it on then I suppose it will keep going.

"I've said it before—if the Scientologists kept themselves to themselves it would be all right. But they don't."

The truth of Mr. Jones's statement is astonishingly evident in East Grinstead.

The Scientologists—there are about 300 of them—have already bought a hotel, acquired scores of houses, and privately they run many businesses.

Mr. Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, is a director of two companies, and his wife, Mary Sue, is a director of five—one with nominal capital of £300,000.

Two weeks ago the cult decided they didn't like some of the town's businesses run by non-Scientologists.

So they simply decreed 22 of them "out of bounds" — bookshops, cafes, garages, pubs, a laundry and even a furniture removal company.


Not content with that, they have just issued a further list of 150 "suppressive persons."

These people have committed the highest crime of Scientology—opposing it. So now nobody is allowed to talk to them.

The cult have also sent a questionnaire to many residents of East Grinstead, asking, among other things, for the names of people who oppose Scientology.

Mr. Maurice Taylor, president of the East Grinstead Chamber of Trade, said the Chamber had sent a letter to St. Hill Manor, deploring their attitude in "banning" the 22 firms.

Mr. Taylor said: "We believe everybody should trade where they wish. What would happen if priests and clergy started telling their congregations where to shop? Where would it all end?"

When I arrived in East Grinstead the day after Mr. Robinson announced the curbs on the cult, I found Scientologists distributing invitations for a lecture tomorrow.


Disturbing aspects of the activities of the Scientologists emerged last week at a public inquiry into the council's refusal to allow them to expand.

* A 22-year-old boy had "disappeared" since joining th cult, sending his mother a letter saying merely that he was "disconnecting" from her.

* A teacher told of "death lessons" given to pupils at a private school.

* A barrister said Scientology attracted the neurotic, the simple-minded and the immature.

* A National Health Service officer said doctors had reported Scientology patients were "frequently unclean."

During the past year the chairman of East Grinstead juvenile court, Mr. Anthony Evans, has also lashed out at Scientology when reviewing cases before him.


When told that an 11-year-old girl accused of shoplifting was taking a course in Scientology he said:

"If there was ever a case where it is the parents as much as the children who are to blame this is it."

East Grinstead council have called a special meeting for next Wednesday to consider Mr. Robinson's action.

They said no statement could be made until after the meeting.

The Scientologists spokesman, Mrs. Jane Kember, said: "We intend to fight. We are not going to sit around and just submit."

[Picture / Caption: St. Hill Manor, East Grinstead, world headquarters of the Scientology cult. Scientologists also own a hotel and scores of houses in the town.]

[Picture / Caption: TRADER Maurice Taylor: "What would happen if clergy started telling congregations where to shop?"]

[Picture / Caption: FARMER Ivor Jones: "If they kept themselves to themselves it would be all right. But they don't."]

[Picture / Caption: PUBLICAN James Ellis: "I don't think our people will fall for it despite the recruiting drive."]