London publisher Silvertail Books has received a letter from Scientology leader David Miscavige’s attorneys threatening that it will be sued for defamation if it goes through with plans to publish Ron Miscavige’s book due out next week. The letter also indicates that Ron’s US publisher, St. Martin’s Press, has received similar warnings.
And according to the way book contracts work, a suit against the book would mean that David Miscavige would be suing his own father.
Ron’s book, Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me, will be featured this Friday night on ABC’s 20/20 program, and it promises to be a devastating look at how Ron’s son, David Miscavige, became the dictatorial leader of the Scientology organization.
But even at this late date, with only days to go before publication, Scientology’s attorneys are trying to scare the book’s publishers out of going through with having copies on sale May 3.
“You are now on notice of the highly defamatory content of the subject book,” the letter states. “In the event that you proceed…our client will be left with no alternative but to seek the protection of UK/Irish defamation and other laws. Accordingly, even at this late stage, we would urge you to reconsider your decision to proceed…[with] what clearly will be a totally unjustified, premeditated attack on our client’s reputation and character.”
The letter claims that David Miscavige has had “no meaningful relationship” with his father since he was sixteen years old, and it indicates that Scientology has been trying to convince St. Martin’s Press of Ron Miscavige’s “sinister background.” (In other words, a classic Scientology “dead agent” campaign, as described by its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, which is designed to smear the reputation of someone criticizing Scientology, in this case David Miscavige’s own father.)
Silvertail publisher Humfrey Hunter tells us the letter has not changed his mind.
“Silvertail will publish Ruthless in the UK on 3 May as planned,” he says.
Full disclosure: Silvertail is also the publisher of The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, our history of Scientology’s attempt to destroy the life of journalist Paulette Cooper. Hunter also published John Sweeney’s 2013 book about Scientology, Church of Fear, and brought back into print Russell Miller’s biography of L. Ron Hubbard, Bare-Faced Messiah.
The letter Hunter received came from the powerful London firm Johnsons.
Here’s the text of the letter…
We represent Mr David Miscavige, Chairman of the Board of the Religious Technology Center and ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion.
We note from your website that it is your intention to distribute the title “Ruthless” by Ron Miscavige and Dan Koon (ISBN 1250096936) in the UK and Ireland. Indeed, the book is already available to pre-order at the following URL: http://www.silvertailbooks.com/portfolio-post/ruthless/
We are surprised at your decision to distribute this book given that you must be on notice of the correspondence between the Church’s US attorneys and representatives of St Martin’s Press, in which the Church’s fundamental objections to the false and defamatory allegations contained within the subject book are outlined in detail. As you are no doubt aware, UK and Irish libel laws offer more extensive protection to individuals, and indeed religious organisations, than those in the US.
We are instructed, on the basis of information put to our client, that the book contains malicious, false, misleading and highly defamatory allegations relating to our client, including inter alia:
i. That our client was never officially appointed to be L. Ron Hubbard’s successor but rather seized power by outmanoeuvring his rivals;
ii. That Gold Base is surrounded by spiked fencing pointing inwards;
iii. That working and living conditions at Gold Base were appalling and staff were not permitted to leave;
iv. That our client created “The Hole” as a means of punishing Sea Org members and that people were subjected to deprivation and violence whilst detained in “The Hole”;
v. That our client lives in lavish conditions whilst Church staff live in poor conditions;
vi. That our client’s management style is erratic and abusive;
vii. That our client hired Private Detectives to carry out surveillance on Ron Miscavige.
Furthermore, the summary of the book on your website is equally outragous and defamatory with your allegations of our client’s “brutal approach to running the organisation today: and the disastrous effects that his leadership has had on countless numbers of scientologists and their families”.
We also note from your website that this book is one of a number of vehemently anti-Scientology titles being published by you. Indeed it appears that at least a quarter of your titles are publications which are zealously critical of the Church of Scientology. In such circumstances, the only reasonable inference that can be drawn is that you are pursuing a malicious and vindictive agenda against our client and the Church.
It is clear that the publication of this book has been motivated against the background of an extremely difficult and an unfortunate family history, which ultimately resulted in the alienation of our client and his two sisters from their father and brother, whose misconduct and transgressions over the years have been a source of extremely serious concern.
Apart from the fact that Ron Miscavige would not have been in a position to have any direct knowledge or experience of the totally discredited and disproven claims, the fact that he has made these allegations can only be for blatant commercial gain and vindictive ill will towards our client and his two daughters.
We are therefore putting you on notice of not only the potential reputational damage that this book may cause to our client in the UK and Ireland, but which is also likely to cause serious resultant damage to the extensive charitable work of the Church of Scientology in these jurisdictions.
For the avoidance of doubt, these allegations are unequivocally denied by our client. This book represents the malicious fabrications of a disaffected former member of the Church who has had no meaningful relationship with our client since our client left home at age sixteen to pursue his life in the Church. Indeed, quite apart from the fundamental inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the book, it can be established as a matter of factual record that the author was not, and could not have been, present at many of the events of which he claims to have first-hand knowledge.
We also trust that St Martin’s Press will have provided you with copies of correspondence from the Church’s US representatives, outlining the sinister background of this individual and his propensity for fraud and dishonesty. If they have not done so, you are now on notice that it is incumbent upon you to request sight of same as a matter of urgency.
As the leader of a worldwide religion, our client is entitled to an appropriate degree of respect, and not least an objective analysis of allegations made by or on behalf of individuals who have an obvious motivation and hostility towards a religious institution of which they had previously been willing and enthusiastic members.
You are now on notice of the highly defamatory content of the subject book. Accordingly, in the event that you proceed with the release of this book, in total disregard for the truth, our client will be left with no alternative but to seek the protection of UK/Irish defamation and other laws.
Accordingly, even at this late stage, we would urge you to reconsider your decision to proceed with the release of this publication, otherwise use will be made of this correspondence to demonstrate malice and recklessness behind what clearly will be a totally unjustified, premeditated attack on our client’s reputation and character.
We would also demand that you remove the aforesaid defamatory material from your website forthwith.
Pending a full review of the final manuscript our client continues to reserve all of his rights regarding the material contained therein.
We would request that you acknowledge receipt of this letter by return.
We’ll point out one additional thing about this letter, and then we’re looking forward to your thoughts on it. Looking at those specific complaints in the letter, we get the distinct feeling that Scientology and its attorneys don’t actually have a copy of the book yet — the complaints are too generic, aren’t they?
Wow, this is going to be an interesting week.
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Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield