‘Given to grandiosity’: Judge slams former ‘cult’ leader Natasha Lakaev as she loses Tas defamation trial

A former “cult leader” now living in the Huon Valley has failed in her latest defamation battle, with a Hobart judge slamming her as an “arrant liar” and finding all claims made about her were true.

The Mercury, Australia/March 4, 2024

By Amber Wilson

A former “cult leader” now living in Tasmania has failed in her latest defamation legal battle, with a Hobart judge slamming her as an “arrant liar” who “wrongfully indoctrinated people into her bizarre belief system”.

Natasha Lakaev, the former leader of NSW organisation Universal Knowledge, moved to Geeveston some years ago and is now the proprietor of bed and breakfast, The Bears Went Over The Mountain.

Her unsuccessful defamation claim against former acolyte Carli McConkey comes after a lengthy 34-day trial in the Supreme Court of Tasmania, which aired dozens of bizarre claims – including that Lakaev claimed to be a reincarnation of Jesus Christ, “one of 12 on the “Intergalactic Council of the Universe”, and that she’d been “a lady in waiting in Atlantis”.

It was also alleged Dr Lakaev claimed she came from the “bird tribes” from a different dimension and remembered all of her past lives.

During the trial, Dr Lakaev admitted that her personal improvement courses had included “genital rubbing” and the watching of porn, and told the court she had saved the life of her terminally-ill baby son by giving him herbal remedies.

Dr Lakaev denied during the trial that one of her sub-companies, Lightspeed, had been a “psychic horse-betting scheme”, but claimed instead it was a gambling system based on a “very clever mathematical system” by a “very intelligent” man, who had since died.

In his newly-published judgment, Justice Stephen Estcourt has ruled in favour of Ms McConkey, finding all claims she made about Dr Lakaev in her self-published book The Cult Effect, in newspaper articles reproduced within the book, and via social media posts, were either absolutely or substantially true.

Agreeing with Ms McConkey’s claims and finding her to be a truthful and reliable witness, he found it absolutely true that Dr Lakaev was indeed “a cult leader” who “wrongfully indoctrinated people into her bizarre belief system” and who physically assaulted her followers.

He also found it true that Dr Lakaev was a criminal, that she used and encouraged others in her cult to use illicit drugs, that she was a bully, and unlawfully obtained financial advantages from her cult members.

Justice Estcourt found it was substantially true that Dr Lakaev was a “violent extremist” and that she was not a fit and proper person to practise as a psychologist.

He praised Ms McConkey – who represented herself during the trial – for her honesty, for her keeping of extensive documentation, and her ability to remain unshaken during cross-examination.

“I could not have been more impressed with the defendant’s evidence,” Justice Estcourt said.

In contrast, he described Lakaev as having given “frequent garrulous and seemingly interminable and convoluted answers to questions asked of her” in court and at times spoke in a “rambling, self-aggrandising” manner.

Justice Estcourt said Lakaev “was given to grandiosity” and “untruthful exaggeration” when it came to discussing her “powers as a healer and self-healer” – and said he was unconvinced by her denials that she’d ever claimed to be a reincarnation of Jesus.

He said her evidence, given over 17 days of cross-examination, showed a lack of candour and persuaded him, “to a very high level of satisfaction” that Lakaev was an “arrant liar”.

Justice Estcourt also ruled that Lakaev pay Ms McConkey’s costs in fighting the defamation case.

The current case was the latest in a string of defamation battles waged by Dr Lakaev, including proceedings against A Current Affair, Bond University, other former followers, Fairfax Media, News Corp, and a United States dance school.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.

Educational DVDs and Videos