The year is 1975. French authorities are investigating Scientology for fraud and L. Ron Hubbard has fled Europe in an attempt to avoid extradition. Just two years prior, he had been involved in a motorcycle accident and established the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) – which later became known as Scientology’s ‘hard labour, North-Korea style re-education camp’. Pressure is mounting against Scientology and with it’s Saint Hill headquarters expanding in Sussex, the UK government are starting to wonder what the mysterious organisation might be up to.
Enter Roy Jenkins.
Then Home Secretary under Prime Minister Harold Wilson, Jenkins (pictured) led an under-the-table campaign to take down the Church of Scientology before becoming President of the European Commission in 1977.
In a recently resurfaced article citing declassified documents held by the National Archives, it was revealed that Jenkins was so concerned about Scientology’s activities, he held a secret summit of government ministers on how to ‘rid Britain’ of the group.
Placing members under secret surveillance in an attempt to undermine and discredit the group, Jenkins and other ministers described Scientology as ‘mafia-like’ and discussed the ‘barbaric punishments’ staff members are subjected to on the RPF, which was ‘harmful’, ‘evil’ and ‘disrupted families’. A 1975 internal 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.“
While under British surveillance, Scientologists in the ‘Guardians Office’ were conducting the largest infiltration of US Government in history, known as Operation Snow White from their headquarters at Saint Hill, Sussex. Jane Kember and her deputy Mo Budlong were later found to be directing the campaign and extradited to the US, where they were convicted and sentenced to 6 years in prison.
In 1977, the UK government released a report revealing how Scientologists were being trained to attack and discredit critics of the Church under their ‘Fair Game’ policy, and described the group as “essentially evil”. Visa restrictions were placed on those visiting the UK to train or work for Scientology, ultimately refusing 145 individuals entry. A 1980 article in the Guardian titled ‘Snow White’s Dirty Tricks‘ revealed Church intelligence staff circumvented the restrictions by giving false information to immigration officials.
Although the ban was later lifted, the UK government’s position on Scientology was clear. After his term as Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins was appointed President of the European Commission and in his second year, the French investigation into Scientology came to a close, convicting Hubbard of fraud and sentencing him to four years in prison with a fine of 35,000 Francs – in absentia.
When Jenkins’ covert campaign against Scientology were revealed in 2011, Church spokesman Graeme Wilson, now UK head of the ‘Office of Special Affairs’ (OSA), claimed the report was evidence of “government harassment”. Despite one report claiming staff were “imprisoned for 48 hours in a hatch too small to stand up or lie down in”, and frequently sprayed with a water hose, Wilson’s response was to paint Scientology as the victims. “The Government of the United Kingdom owes the Church of Scientology an apology for this atrocious treatment”.
Graeme Wilson is the Scientology’s UK Head of Special Affairs. He also holds an appointment as the Director of Nesta Investments Limited, a real estate investment firm that profits from leasing property to Scientology.