The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has today upheld a complaint by the Church of England over claims made by the Scientology movement that it had "saved 250,000 people from drug abuse."
The complaint was made by the Diocese of Birmingham following an advertising campaign which was run by Scientology in the summer of 2001 in Birmingham, London and Berkshire.
In their letter to the ASA, the Diocese of Birmingham complained that the poster breached the parts of the advertising code which related to truthfulness, honesty and substantiation. The Church wrote that the claims made by Scientology were "both dishonest and also misleading by both ambiguity and exaggeration."
In upholding the complaint the ASA said they were "concerned that the advertisers had not proved that all those enrolled on the programmes were dependent on drugs at the time of the enrolment or that as many as 250,000 drug users had stopped using those drugs as a direct result of Scientology's intervention."
Welcoming the ASA's ruling, Mr. Arun Arora, Director of Communications for the Diocese of Birmingham said:
"This is a landmark ruling by the ASA.
Despite the thousands of pounds spent by Scientology in legal fees trying to delay, bury and frustrate this complaint, the truth has come out - and the truth is Scientology makes claims for their dangerous cult which they can neither prove nor substantiate.
Drug users who are trying to kick their habit are vulnerable, many of them are young people who are trying to change their life. This makes them perfect prey for cults like Scientology. I am delighted that the ASA have gone some way to stopping the activities of this organisation in its tracks and highlighting their misleading selling techniques."