Dame Vera's surprising engagement

Mail, UK/October 21, 2011

As the band struck up that old wartime classic, The White Cliffs Of Dover, there in the spotlight was the woman who has been the Forces' sweetheart since she first sang it for homesick servicemen during World War II, Dame Vera Lynn.

But this nostalgic performance was not at a Services reunion but a charity concert in the Sussex headquarters of the controversial Church of Scientology.

So had Dame Vera become, at the age of 94, the latest high-profile figure to join the church that was denounced by a High Court judge as 'obnoxious, corrupt, sinister and dangerous'?

The answer is a resounding 'no'. Says Dame Vera's shocked daughter, Virginia: 'My mother does not agree with Scientology. She is Church of England. She wouldn't want to have anything to do with them.'

So what on earth was she doing there? In fact, it was an innocent invitation from a family friend to attend a concert for the air ambulance service.

Dame Vera, who lives not far from the church's East Grinstead base, was among 2,000 people at the event, hosted by actress (and Scientologist) Kirstie Alley. Church members include Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

Says a non-Scientologist guest at the concert: 'The audience was mostly Scientologists. But there were quite a few local councillors and I was very surprised to see Dame Vera there. I assumed, like me, she's not a supporter.'

The event was advertised as the Saint Hill Gala Charity Concert but the fact that Saint Hill is a Scientology HQ was not on the invitation.

Dame Vera posed for photos with doctors who were presented with two fast-response vehicles worth £54,000 by the church.

Entertainment agent Susan Fleet, who invited Dame Vera, tells me: 'I am certain Dame Vera was not aware it was a Scientology event. I invited her only because of the air ambulance charity which does such a fantastic job. I am not a Scientologist.

'And I jolly well hope I haven't been naive about this.

'I wouldn't have dreamed of inviting her if I thought it would compromise her reputation in any way.'

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