A former Scientologist who left the movement 'in disgust,' described it at East Grinstead court on Monday as an 'evil cult.'
Maurice William Johnson of South Shields County Durham, told the court that since he resigned from the movement in June 1966, he had been persecuted by the Scientology organization and had received over 100 letters of abuse from Scientologists.
A man who wrote one of the letters to Mr. Johnson while he was a member of the Scientology movement himself told how he had written it while under a form of subconscious duress following a period of processing at Saint Hill Manor, East Grinstead.
Mr. Johnson pleaded not guilty to a summons brought by Mr. Herbert George Parkhouse on behalf of the Church of Scientology of California, that he stole a blazer and two pairs of trousers, the property of the Church of Scientology.
After a hearing lasting over four hours, the summons was dismissed.
Mr. N.A. Medawar, prosecuting, said Mr. Johnson had been employed at Saint Hill Manor from August 1965 to June 1966 and had been issued with the blazer and trousers as a uniform on the understanding that when he ceased this employment he should return the clothing. He failed to do this and subsequently refused to do so.
Mr. Parkhouse, of Hermitage Road, East Grinstead, a dissemination officer at Saint Hill Manor, said he had been requested to issue the summons by the ethics department.
In June 1966 he had dismissed Mr. Johnson from his position in the central filing department when he had found him taking letters of complaint from personal files.
Mr. Parkhouse was shown a copy of the Scientology newspaper 'The Auditor' by Mr. Harold Tavroges, representing Mr. Johnson, which, it was pointed out, contained a list of people described as 'suppressive to the Scientology movement.' The list included the name of Mr. Johnson and also stated that Mr. Johnson was 'fair game.'
Asked what in his opinion 'fair game' meant, Mr. Parkhouse said: 'It means I am not obliged to give him any help or assistance or to do anything for him either as a Scientologist or as a human being.'
Mrs. Monica Qualino, a Scientologist, of Coronation Road, East Grinstead, said she had known Mr. Johnson and had seen him the navy blue blazer at Saint Hill.
She was shown a further article which claimed Mr. Johnson to be 'an enemy of mankind, the planets and all life.'
She denied that such people were persecuted.
A number of Scientologists then gave evidence that Mr. Johnson had been issued with the blazer and trousers and had left Saint Hill without returning them.
Before Mr. Tavroges opened his case, he brought to the magistrate's attention that a man accompanying the Scientologists had been sitting in the precincts of the court with a camera.
The chairman, Mr. Antony Evans, directed that on no account should any photographs be taken in the precincts of the court.
Mr. Johnson then wrote down his exact address for the bench. He had been permitted not to disclose it in court.
He said his job had been to maintain the files. He had started work at Saint Hill thinking the organization was a normal one.
Early in 1966 he received a letter from Mr. Ron Hubbard stating that all male staff would be required to wear a uniform.
On receiving the blazer and trousers he found they did not fit and had returned them. He had never worn them and had never seen them since.
'After seeing what was going on there, I became so disgusted with it that I had to resign. On June 24, 1966, I was escorted from the premises and nothing was mentioned about a uniform and I have never had any request to return it,' he said.
Mr. Johnson then told the court of the letters he had received from Scientologists stating that he had been 'disconnected' from them.
A bundle of these letters was handed to the chairman who said: 'This is an incredible bunch of letters; much of it is written in violent language and they appear to contain a theme of hate.'
Mr. Johnson said it was quite normal for people leaving the movement to receive letters like this. It was a condition of re-entry into the movement that a member must write a letter disconnecting himself from someone who has left Scientology.
He said this would happen while a student was being processed.
At this point, Mr. Evans remarked that it sounded like a form of brain-washing.
Mr. Johnson added that he considered Mr. Parkhouse to be an evil man who would be prepared to lie on oath.
'This is a conspiracy of lies to have me convicted on a criminal charge,' he said.
Mr. David Cunningham, of Launceston Gardens, Perryvale, Middlesex, said he was a former Scientologist who had been disconnected from the movement.
He said he had known Mr. Johnson for a number of years and had never seen him wearing a Scientology blazer.
He considered the term 'fair game' to mean that a person can be worked against by other members of the Scientology group. He had written a letter of disconnection to Mr. Johnson as an obligatory condition of his re-joining the movement, of which he was now no longer a member.
'I was under a form of sub-conscious duress, otherwise, I wouldn't have done it,' he said.
Before dismissing the case Mr. Evans said the dictionary definition of fair game, which was the one he accepted, meant 'a legitimate means of pursuit and attack.'