NEW ATTACK ON SCIENTOLOGISTS 12 May 2006
Saint Hill Manor, the headquarters of Scientology, was compared to one of Saddam Hussein's palaces at a Crowborough Town Council committee meeting this week.
Cllr Michael Murphy demanded the council should seek further information into the ""church"" of Scientology before it uses its voluntary services.
Cllr Murphy, who reiterated that he does not discriminate against anyone, referred to newspaper allegations of improper conduct by Scientologists particularly at Walsh Manor, Crowborough, where some 350 scientologists live.
He claimed workers at the manor always looked "pained and exhausted" and how one remarked "I would have loved it if the police moved in and let us all go".
Cllr Murphy said: "It's not an organisation full of ordinary people. It's an authoritarian organisation that restricts people and their freedom - particularly the vulnerable. They charge a lot of money for the services they provide."
He said: "I think it would be right for the council to at least stand back and give some thought to some of the information from these resources."
He asked the council to call for a police investigation to find out what is going on at Walsh Manor before adding: "We can all go down to Saint Hill and be entertained. But we could have come into one of Saddam Hussein's palaces and everything would have seemed fine when he was murdering and massacring his people."
At the finance and general purposes committee meeting on Tuesday Cllr Murphy proposed the town council refrains from using the voluntary services of the Scientologists until further information is available, particularly, whether all employees comply with the working time directive and are paid at least the minimum wage.
His motion, a similar version of which was thrown out in February, was seconded by Cllr Paul Scott and passed by four votes to three.
Cllr Scott, who arrived at the meeting with his own E-meter [a lie detector used by Scientologists], said: "We do have a duty to represent all people in this area.
"We do not wish to attack them at all. If they [the allegations] are entirely false we would be doing them a considerable favour. We would be clearing them of the smear campaign against them."
He said the ""church"" fails to answer the questions put before it by the one million websites dedicated to Scientology.
"A few people suggested the Nazi regime was up to unacceptable behaviour in concentration camps," he said.
"The Red Cross were asked to investigate. They went around a camp chosen by the Germans and saw a very fine orchestra playing and found very happy, laughing, dancing people with no reason to fear.
"I'm not suggesting this is happening here but just if the ""church"" could help us obtain the facts."
Cllr Murphy's proposal will now go to full council.
Graeme Wilson, director of public affairs at Saint Hill Manor, East Grinstead, responded to the allegations by saying: "Since originally tabling his motion last year, Cllr Murphy has been invited to the ""Church"" of Scientology at Saint Hill Manor on four separate occasions so that we could show him our ""church"", have him meet Scientologists and answer his questions.
"Other councillors were also invited and several did come for a tour and I hope that Cllr Murphy, and any other councillors who are interested, will take up the invitation.
"Contrived media reports and the internet are not a good source for reliable and balanced information and can give one a jaundiced and unfair view."
He explained the good work carried out by Scientology volunteers from Sussex who have given more than 70,000 hours in the past year - including efforts in South East Asia following the tsunami; in Pakistan after the earthquake, and in London during the bombings as well as day to day local work.