Survivor Stories: Ex-Scientologists call on UK government to act

Scientology first appeared in the United Kingdom in 1959, when science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard purchased Saint Hill Manor, a rural country estate on the outskirts of East Grinstead, Sussex. It was to become their international headquarters, and to this day remains an important management base responsible for much of Scientology’s UK and European operations.

Following a covert surveillance operation, a 1975 internal government report concluded “The Church of Scientology does not merely persuade people to part with their money. It is a harmful movement with an evil reputation.“ Despite this, and failing to obtain charity status in 1999 after the Charity Commission ruled it “does not benefit the public,” Scientology’s operation has continued in the UK – unchanged, unaltered…. and unchallenged.

Tomorrow, the UK population will head to the polls in what is widely expected to be an historic general election, ushering in an era of change. We call on the government to intervene on the issue of Scientology and finally put a stop to human suffering.

These are just a handful of accounts, written by former members who experienced Scientology’s abusive practices first-hand, in their own words.

In the 1980s and early 1990s I spent time involved in scientology in the UK. I was initially attached to Sunderland org(anisation) and also travelled to Saint Hill manor in West Sussex for training. The time involved in total was almost 7 years.

The first instance of deception was in getting both my wife and I to join staff. This involved signing a “contract” for either 5 or 2 and a half years. Up to that point we had only had positive experiences. During discussions about pay and conditions we were assured that we would receive about £200 each and it was this that made us take the plunge and sign up for 5 years.

First week we got nothing and were told that as we were training we wouldn’t get full pay but to get nothing at all was a shock to say the least.

I was next sent to Sussex for training and although my fares were paid I was left to fend for myself regarding accommodation and food and again for 6 weeks I received no pay.

My wife joined me and now we were both trying to survive spending 14 hours a day studying thereby not earning any money. After about 8 weeks we received £40 but this went nowhere as we owed rent not to mention had to buy food. My wife was pregnant during this period so we were concerned about our unborn child too.

Fortunately or not, we had just sold our house and lived on the proceeds of that for a while.

In the three years that I was associated with the Sunderland branch I didn’t get anywhere close to £200 in total, never mind weekly.

As I learned more about the workings of this racket I found out that pay depended on income so if your org made no money, you didn’t get paid anything. 

We were already committed but things came to a point where we couldn’t afford to carry on. We had our first child and were due a second. What little we received on benefits went on paying a babysitter so that we could work over 12 hours a day for scientology.This was all quite ruthless as discipline got tighter the longer you were involved and the higher up the ladder you progressed.

Eventually we escaped by borrowing train fares from my wife’s relations and just going without telling anyone. If you told anyone you were thinking of leaving they would try to prevent that at all costs. 

If you did leave, like we did, they declared us Suppressive Persons and this meant that no scientologist was allowed to communicate in any way with us and we were in fact excommunicated.

I would advise anybody and everybody to have nothing to do with scientology as although we were fortunate that our suffering wasn’t too intense, it did cost us our house and would have cost us much more had we stayed.

The religion angle is just that, an angle. 

People involved in scientology will tell anyone that it is a religion but amongst themselves they readily acknowledge that it isn’t, unless the worship of money is religious.


I was involved with Scientology for 17 years, starting from my early 20s. It presented itself as a self-improvement system and a “Modern Science of Mental Health,” promising to help me achieve my dreams by making me a dynamic, confident, successful and happy person – free from irrational fears or phobias, cured from many diseases and immune to others. Resisting the pressure to join the staff, I remained a paying customer. Joining the staff would have involved working 100+ hours per week for a pittance (much less than minimum wage) and only getting Christmas day off to see family if I had worked hard enough. The cheaper introductory courses had a few interesting and useful ideas in them, but their real purpose, combined with a continuous bombardment of promotions and “success stories”, was to create a desire or desperation to take the more expensive services – where all my problems would resolve. The well-timed big sell arrived, and they pressured me into taking a loan without the knowledge of my partner. After initially paying several thousands of pounds to get the promised results, the cost of additional services needed to get me out the hole I now found myself in soon turned into 10s of thousands, coupled with extra hidden costs, membership fees, demands for donations for new buildings and legal battles, spiralling out of control over £100k. All of which were paid under duress in loans and on numerous credit cards, some of which were arranged via the organisation in questionable circumstances. My experience was common amongst other customers and staff, some going bankrupt or taking out IVAs, selling their properties, donating inheritances or divorce settlements, and so on. After leaving the organisation on the brink of financial ruin, it took me 7 painful years to get out of debt and to regain a healthy credit score. I was lucky in that I had a decent income. Others may not have been so fortunate.

Besides the extortion, my health issues and phobias were not resolving. I had high blood pressure, and they expected me to treat this with vitamins and exercise, hoping their services would eventually do the trick. When I eventually parted ways with the organisation and sought the correct medical treatment, my blood pressure was dangerously high. Had I not got the correct treatment, I may not be here today. It was common in the organisation to discourage medicine and especially psychiatric drugs, preventing people from getting the best care needed. An abundance of conspiracy theories about pharmaceutical companies, the mental health industry and general medicine bred throughout the followers, eliciting more donations to save them from such “evils.”

Scientology is a totalitarian organisation that seeks to control its members and anyone else around. There is even a policy called “Command Intention” meaning whatever the current leader demands, all staff and followers are to comply with, no questions asked. All orders from seniors are expected to be carried out by their sub-ordinates with harsh penalties for failing to do so. Even paying customers suffer the same level of control, getting several phone calls per day until they agree to whatever. One time, they made me clean out the sauna as a punishment. During a visit to their East Grinstead headquarters, someone decided I was to stay there for a week and pay for a £10k service. “There is no alternative,” they told me, and I witnessed their fear of not wanting to inform their superior that I couldn’t do it. They held me down there for several days using various manipulative techniques – apparently, I did not have “permission to leave.” Whilst there, I saw a lady storm off and leave. Within half an hour, they had gone to her home and brought her back in. I used to get people turning up at my house unannounced, and one time had someone turn up to my workplace in Birmingham, demanding that I take time off and finish my current course.

Overall, followers are under constant pressure to donate vast sums of money, to spend at least 12 hours a week taking services with no breaks in between, to turn up to every promotional event (and buy the latest releases), to donate materials to libraries, to support and take part in their outreach activities and to promote Scientology to others, all whilst trying to keep a job and a family, and to keep a roof over their heads.

These are not just the actions of a few members. Scientology’s policies are ingrained with an “ends justifies the means” mentality. Their ultimate goal is to have all governments under their control. Scientology may not be big in the UK compared to other countries, but they are buying up expensive real estate off the back of overworked, abused, manipulated and deceived British citizens, giving up their homes and inheritances, whilst not telling them about the few billion dollars they have in reserves in the US, or the millions of dollars they waste each year trying to harass and silence critics.

In the current climate of disinformation, dangerous cults such as Scientology that are major spreaders of such anti-scientific lies, using them to profit from people’s fears, and subsequently bleeding them dry, need to be investigated and brought to account.


I am writing to you as a concerned former citizen of England. I am originally from Switzerland and I grew up as a child in Scientology. Because of that I have been victim to abuse and neglect during my childhood including no proper education and being cohered at the age of nine, to sign a contract to work for the church of Scientology for the reminder of my life. But I would like to focus on my time in England between 2005 (age 13) and 2012 (age 20).

I was moved along with my parents under false pretences to England to work for the church of Scientology (as so-called Sea Org members, the most elite workforce for Scientology) at its main headquarters at St. Hill in East Grinstead. From the age of 13-16 I worked during the week about 6h and on the weekends usually 8-10h. From the age of 16 my workday was 12-14h for seven days a week. We were under constant watch from other staff and cameras and where never allowed to leave the premises unless strict permission to do so.

We where daily transported from our berthing at Walsh Manor in Crowborough to St. Hill. I lived in badly maintained housing. Single panel windows, rotten wood at the windows, during winter not always heating, insects in room, poor ventilation. And I was housed in a small room with a total of 12 men (six bunkbeds). My personal possessions where few and to be frank, I hardly ever had the chance to enjoy them.

I worked more then 100h a week, yet my weekly pay was between £0.00 and £20.00, a few times I even had gotten £50.00 but that happened maybe six times in all my years working there.

When I was about 16, I came to realise that I am in fact homosexual, but I was not able to come out or seek help/advice as Scientology is extremely homophobic. I was under a lot od distress and became very depressed and suicidal. At the age of 20 I could not bare it any longer and I wanted to take my own life and thus communicated it to the right authorities at St Hill. I told them, that in order to protect the church I would like to rout out, so as to kill myself while not officially working for the church any longer. I assumed they would want to help me so as not to lose a valued member. Instead of showing concern, compassion or offering help, they proceeded to start the process to get me out of the headquarters as soon as possible, so as to get rid of a major problem.

To answer the question, why I did not just walk away much sooner or just go to the doctor or a psychiatrist for help: I grew up in this very controlling environment. I was never permitted to be on the internet, or have any contact with the outside world. I was living a very isolated life, not knowing how life outside of Scientology was actually like. During my time as a child and as an adult I was constantly given propaganda about the outside world. How it is unsafe, there are always wars, most people are drug addicts and criminals. How doctors do not wish to actually heal you, as they much rather keep you sick so as to make more money and that psychiatrists and psychologists will try to lobotomise or use electric shock therapy with anyone that they can. I was very frightened of a world without Scientology as I was constantly told how Scientology was the only thing in this world, that actually is good and is trying to help mankind.

And so, if I where to leave, I would have no chance of survival let alone be able to have a happy life. On top of that I was considered to be a lower class of person or as Scientology would categorise me as a Degraded being, an aberration due to my homosexuality.

In the Sea Org, there is no such thing as retirement. I know of two adults by the name of Jon Cox and Robere Edwards, who worked almost to the last day of their life. They both where over 80 years old. There are a couple of other seniors I knew who passed away while I worked there, but I do not recall their names.

If targets where not met, then there were severe punishments. This included staying on work for several more hours, being publicly shamed, made to do demining labour, not allowed to eat the regular food, but instead dry reis and beans, denied the time to sleep, reduced pay or even no pay at all.

As I was working in the kitchen, cooking the food for the staff I can inform, that during most of my time there it was just myself and one other person having to cook, clean the kitchen & store-room, wash up, clean all the dining rooms, do the food order etc. for 350 people. The budget for such a number of staff for three meals a day, was about £2000 a week. That would come to less then 30 Pence per person per meal.

Indeed, this has been more then ten years ago, but Scientology doctrine is based on the works of the founder L. Ron Hubbard and it is per their own policies, that they are not allowed to alter the technology. This would then also mean that not only would they have to continue with their very abusive behaviour, but that it would be done worldwide in all the Scientology Churches.

Although I now live back in Switzerland and am not part of Scientology any longer, I am still suffering from all the abuse I suffered under and Scientology is still in operation in the UK. I plead, that you please investigate and inform yourself. Please look up stories of victims of Scientology, there are hundreds of individuals who have come forward and have spoken out and there are thousands of videos on YouTube, newspaper articles and blogs describing all the abuse that Scientology has been a part of for decades.


I started doing Scientology courses from the age of 6, as a member of public in South Africa then arrived in England in 1973 to join what they call the Sea Organization. At age 11 (just before my 12th birthday) I was sent by myself completely alone to join the flagship Apollo in Lisbon. The intention was for me to become what they call a Commodore’s Messenger working directly with L. Ron Hubbard. From the day I got there I wanted to go straight back home to my mother in the UK, but was not allowed to. I did physical work on the ship for a few months and thought the only way I could get off the ship and back to my family was if I was as naughty as possible. I was sent to work for what they called the ethics officer and he set me to work to file a backlog pile of knowledge reports. Instead of filing them, I shredded them. This was just one of a few naughty things that I did that got me into a lot of trouble. Unfortunately for me, the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) had just been formed, and so had the RPF’s RPF. I was assigned to the RPF, then the RPF’s RPF where one was forced to wear black boiler suits and a black armband. One was not allowed to talk to other members of the crew, and you had to do physical work all day and study at night. You don’t have any time off and you eat after everyone else has eaten (if there was food left).  I still didn’t want to stay and wanted to go backl to my family so after while I was locked up in the chain locker of the ship by L Ron Hubbard. After three days and three nights I was eventually offloaded and sent back to be with my family in the UK, but not before having had to petition L. Ron Hubbard for permission to do so.

Once back in the UK I was sent back to school, but during my A-levels was taken out of school against my will and made to work for what they call their Guardians Office. At age 14 I was sodomised and didn’t tell anyone as I felt so ashamed. The perpetrator admitted to his wife what he had done, and she reported it. I was then hauled into the ethics office and told that it was my fault it happened and that I was not allowed to report it to law enforcement. I continued to work for the organisation for a few more years, before finally managing to make my escape in 1982. I was the last of my family to leave, but the catalyst for me wanting to leave was that my mother had suffered a stroke at age 42 due to the stresses that she was under having to work for the organisation till 3 o’clock every morning for at previous three weeks.

This is just a small snapshot of what happened to me. There’s a lot more to say.  This is a dangerous cult and they continue to use children for forced labour. It has to stop.


I personally as a 15 year old was permitted to go to a London Night Club after having successfully cleaned the windows of a Scientology building with newspaper. As a child visiting England I thought this was of course fantastic. I was being treated as an adult in a childs body. Anything could have happened to me that night. I came from a small village in another country and had no idea about the dangers in the world. Treating children like adults and allowing them adult freedoms is nothing short of abuse.

As a younger child I also remember very clearly going to the jewellers with my mum. My mum tried to sell her jewellery to get some money for food and bills and an unpaid mortgage as Scientology had convinced my dad to give them all the family money for courses.

On another occasion I was asked, as a member of the public,  to pop into a room, just off the reception area for a chat. Soon I was sat there as a young lone female with 3 men much older than me. I was extremely scared as I was seated furthest from the door. I was asked to sign a Billion Year contract. I was there for hours, being word cleared on help, various other men in uniform came & went showing various references as to why joining the SeaOrg was a good thing. Eventually I was left with 2 females in uniform. The organisation had closed and it was now only us and security staff. I was coerced into voluntarily signing the contract in the early hours of the morning. I have never been so panicked. I had been informed I would have to disconnect all contact with my mum, for her anger at my dad giving all the money to Scientology.

I have also witnesses a very distressed friend, absolutely distraught as her elderly mother had no money for food, was starving and in distress, all because she had been convinced to hand her money over to the “church” for the betterment of her spiritual freedom, leaving her nothing to take care of her physical self.

The occasion that finally got me out of Scientology was when a very dear friend and new Scientologist got Cancer. The Church of Scientology said they can help with that, had a remedy. They built his hopes up. He sadly died a few weeks later.  The process for handling cancer can be found in what they call their “scriptures” (any writing or lecture by L Ron Hubbard), in the “Organization Series – Part 14 of 20 The Scale of Havingness  Lecture 29 Nov 1956.

“It (cancer) always requires a second-dynamic or sexual upset…This is cancer at the outset….we have processed such things as wasting babies, and accepting babies, and mocking up babies and throwing them away and doing such like and so on” L Ron Hubbard from the above lecture.

These processes have to be paid for, what church puts a dying man through that? No other church I know, that’s for sure. My final straw.

Please stop all this abuse happening here in the U.K


At age 6 I was put onto the Emeter, and my Scientologist parents were told: I was a suppressive person (pure evil) after I failed a security check. This is an invasive interrogation. I would be regularly interrogated for years on the Emeter as they attempted to remove the “evil” from me. My Parents were told they had to either handle me or disconnect from me. I was consistently punished under Scientology Ethics instructions. The doctrine of Scientology led to the breakdown of my family relationships. Extended non Scientologist family members were disconnected from us all. The organisation demanded so much money that my family was in serious debt. The “church” do not care about their parishioners. By the time I was 16, I was living alone after being kicked out of my home. I required many years of mental health support to recover from the abuse I experienced. Scientology is harmful, especially to children. I believe that the books and services should be banned in the UK and the organisation investigated and brought to justice. Scientology is a destructive cult.



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Alexander Barnes-Ross

Scientology Business provides analysis and commentary on the Church of Scientology's corporate structure, business operations and functions in the United Kingdom and Europe. The website looks at Scientology's shell companies, financial records and maps the web of international corporate entities responsible for their UK and European activities.

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