How Scientology Pressures Publishers
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Scientology has a long history of trying to suppress material written about it that it doesn’t like. Several times they’ve taken legal action to try and stop websites revealing their teachings – particularly those which, to outsiders, might look a bit odd. (I won’t quote them, but just type “Xenu” into a search engine, then sit back and marvel.)
With books, their usual tactic is to get their solicitors to send out letters alleging defamation; I had one myself a few years ago. If bookshops receive such a letter, most of them chicken out immediately. They lose very little by not stocking a book – except their honour.
I was lucky. Knowing Scientology’s reputation for litigiousness, when I wrote my second book on new religions eight years ago I had long discussions with a senior Scientologist. Eventually it seemed as if we’d reached an agreement: if I didn’t tell the Xenu story, they wouldn’t sue me for saying several other things they didn’t like. We shook hands on what I thought was a deal – a gentlemen’s agreement – in a tea shop somewhere in Covent Garden.
But as Samuel Goldwyn said, a verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. As the book was at the printers a long letter arrived from top libel lawyers Peter Carter-Ruck & Partners, accusing me of several counts of defamation in the previously-agreed chapter. Fortunately my publishers had a good lawyer; we made a few changes and went ahead and published, and never heard a word from Scientology or their lawyers again.