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Scientology wins damages from French court, but it’s not the victory they were hoping for

Jonny Jacobsen

Jonny Jacobsen

Once again our man in Paris, Jonny Jacobsen, has another dispatch for us with late-breaking news. Take it away, Jonny…

Scientologists were celebrating this week after a French court awarded the movement damages for delays in the court case that ended in fraud convictions against the organisation last year.

The court acknowledged in part their complaint that the judicial process, in a case that stretches back to a complaint filed in December 1998, had at times been unacceptably slow.

But the sums involved are a far cry from the one million euros they were seeking. And the court rejected their most serious accusation: that the state had committed gross negligence (faute lourde) at the original trial.

Scientology’s main grievance centred around the prosecution’s call for the two Scientology organisations in the dock to be shut down.

That request, which came during closing arguments at the original 2009 trial, was something of a bombshell at the time and got international coverage.


It later transpired however that this sanction — la dissolution de la personne morale — was not available to the court. Just weeks before the trial began, deputies had voted this measure off the statute books as part of a package of measures.

The then government insisted that this had been an administrative error and the sanction has since been restored — but too late to be applied in this case.

The incident sparked a major row here in France at the time, with Scientology fiercely denying suggestions from some quarters that it might somehow have had a hand in the crucial change to the law.

The Celebrity Centre, one of two Scientology organisations whose conviction for organised fraud was upheld by France’s highest court last year, was among the plaintiffs in this latest case.

It was asking for 935,000 euros in all — 900,000 of it for the prosecution’s alleged negligence in calling for its dissolution.

Scientologie Espace Librarie (SEL), the other organisation convicted of organised fraud last year, sought 100,000 euros in damages over what it argued were repeated delays in the legal process.

And four of the Scientologists convicted of fraud or the illegal practice of pharmacy claimed more modest sums — between 20,000 and 45,000 euros — over the delays.

While the court found partially in their favour, it did not give them the sums they were looking for.

The four individual plaintiffs received 7,000 euros each; the Celebrity Centre and the SEL bookshops just 3,500. The court ordered the state to pick up their legal costs, but did not not follow through Scientology’s request to have judgment published in the French press.

The Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris heard arguments in the case on December 4 and handed down its ruling on January 22.

Eric Roux, one of Scientology’s spokesmen in France, welcomed the ruling in a statement soon after it was published.

“It is a decision that proves the inequitable character of this procedure, as well as the breaches of the fundamental rights of the Scientologists which have marred this affair from the start,” he said.

Scientology was in the process of formulating a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights over the these convictions, he added.

It remains to be seen however, whether the Strasbourg will even agree to consider it.

Thank you, Jonny!


Friday’s Video Vault

Our source came through again, and we hope you enjoy yet another look at an example of a Scientology “quote video”…


Once again we asked Marc Headley for his memories of this video’s production…

Most of the shots in this video are nondescript-people-doing-stuff shots. These are almost all Int Base employees. There are a few shots where we see over the shoulder of someone writing. These are supposed to be L Ron Hubbard writing. When I worked at Golden Era Productions, there were always at least three or four people who could flawlessly write in L Ron Hubbard’s style. It was kind of spooky. Two of the guys that could do this really well were both in the Props department. They could turn anything that Hubbard had written or recorded into an authentic “handwritten” document.

As a result we did a ton of video shots of “Hubbard” writing these documents he was saying it on the recording. I am not sure these writing could stand up in a court of law, but they worked just fine for videos. I’d say we shot hundreds and hundreds of documents that were doctored by the film crew to look like L Ron Hubbard’s writings. We often joked about writing ourselves a quick commendation or promotion.

Back in the mid-1990’s we even had a guy that looked like Hubbard from behind and could write in his handwriting. He was big, tall, and his hair could styled to look just like Ron’s before he let himself go. His name was Marcus Swanson, and we would use him as an LRH body double on many occasions. He also just happened to be the Chief Cameraman for the film unit until his untimely escape one day while we were filming on Hollywood Blvd.

Thanks, Marc!


Posted by Tony Ortega on January 24, 2014 at 18:30

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