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Scientology Crime Syndicate

http://www.newsunlimited.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,56678,00.html

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Scientologists pay for libel
Clare Dyer, Legal Correspondent

Wednesday June 9, 1999

The Church of Scientology agreed yesterday to pay 55,000 libel damages to a former member the church accused of waging a "hate campaign" against it.

The controversial church, founded in the early 1950s by the late science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, apologised at the high court in London for publishing a defamatory leaflet about Bonnie Woods, an American who became a Scientologist in the 1970s but left the church in 1982.

The out of court settlement ends a six-year legal battle by Mrs Woods, 49, who moved to England with her husband, Richard, in 1985 and converted to Christianity in 1991.

Her QC, Michael Tugendhat, told Mr Justice Eady that she publicly criticised Scientology and spoke to the media about her experiences as a member.

The Church of Scientology religious education college - responsible for the propagation and practice of Scientology in the UK - produced a leaflet in June 1993 describing her as a hate campaigner and a deprogrammer who tried to force people away from their chosen faith. It cast doubt on the sincerity of her claims to be a born-again Christian. Mr Tugendhat said the church now accepted that the allegations were untrue.

The church's QC, Patrick Moloney, said it regretted it went too far and undertook not to make such allegations again.

Mrs Woods said she was absolutely delighted with the outcome. The leading City law firm Allen & Overy took on her case free of charge at the request of the civil liberties organisation Liberty.

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Copyright Guardian Media Group plc. 1999 --
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