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Neil Gaiman’s sister shows up in Scientology response video to Gibney film ‘Going Clear’

The Church of Scientology continues to produce short videos as counter-programming to Alex Gibney’s hugely popular HBO documentary Going Clear, posting them at the website of its propaganda magazine, Freedom.

We’ve watched these videos evolve over time. In the most recent ones, which attack the credibility of Gibney and two of the stars of his movie, former Scientology executives Mike Rinder and Tom DeVocht, the vids feature short interviews with current Scientology officials.

And while what they have to say is mostly forgettable, their appearances have been invaluable for us. They provide us sharp, current images of dozens of important figures in Scientology, and stills taken from video are practically the definition of “Fair Use” so we can use the images as often as we like. (Hey, Dave, did you really think this through?)

The church has produced several films about Rinder, and the newest one consists of about a dozen Scientology executives remarking on what a terrible person he is and what a bummer it was to work with him. One of them claims that Rinder was demoted so much, at the end he was the guy grabbing coffee for the others. Actually, as Rinder explains in Going Clear, after he had been brought out of “The Hole,” where he’d been a prisoner for about a year and looked gaunt, his final assignment was to work as a spokesman for the church who “handled” BBC journalist John Sweeney. Those images in the movie are pretty hard to deny, and we don’t expect that many people who have seen Gibney’s film will find this video a very effective blow.


We asked Rinder about the people in the video, and he pointed out that none of them were actually people he worked with much.

“None of the people I actually worked with are in there. I mean, I know all of those people and I had interactions with them. But it’s strange that for 30 years I was the international spokesman and now they’re saying I did nothing, and only brought coffee for people,” he said. “They’re scared to show the people I really worked with, because it would remind people that they all disappeared.” He’s referring to people like Church of Scientology president Heber Jentzsch, who was also imprisoned in “The Hole.”

If the video is weak sauce as far as counter-programming is concerned, it is a bit of a goldmine for us. Because it includes so many images of people we hear about but rarely get to see.

And one of the most interesting of them is Claire Edwards. She shows up very briefly, uttering this line about Rinder: “Never interested. Never asked me how I was doing. Never anything. It was just a very, very cold person.”

It’s a pretty forgettable part of the video, but we were stunned because we know who she is — she’s the sister of Neil Gaiman, the world famous fantasy and sci-fi author.


[See the resemblance?]

We’ve written pretty extensively about Gaiman and his background in Scientology. Neil’s father David Gaiman was a very important figure in the history of the church, serving as the face of Scientology in the UK for decades. He was also a top member of Scientology’s notorious “Guardian’s Office,” was named an unindicted co-conspirator for his role in the Snow White Program’s 1970s infiltration of the US federal government, and he also played a part in Scientology’s intimidation and harassment of author Paulette Cooper. (Which is why he plays an interesting part in our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, which comes out in only 9 more days! Sorry, couldn’t help ourselves.)

Neil himself (which also happens to be his Twitter handle, @neilhimself) grew up in Scientology, provided a fascinating interview to the BBC at only 7 years old, became a Class VIII auditor, and even ran the Birmingham “org” as its ED, executive director. Sometime in the 1980s, however, he walked away from Scientology, though he doesn’t talk about it much.

But that’s understandable, because the rest of his family are about as rabid about Scientology as it gets. His mother has given huge amounts to help fund Scientology’s initiatives in the UK, his sister Lizzy Calcioli has gone on television to defend the church, his nephew (Lizzy’s son) Alessandro Calcioli became famous for winning the right to get married in a Scientology org in England, and Neil’s other sister, Claire, is a Sea Org worker in Los Angeles.

But we had rarely seen or heard anything about her — until now, with her appearance in the video about Mike Rinder.

OK, Neil, we know you don’t want to talk about the beliefs or odd rituals of Scientology because you don’t want to cause problems with your family. But how about standing up on your two hind legs and saying something about Gibney’s film? Surely you’ve seen it? No?

Anyway, we’ll continue to wait for Neil to say something about the abuses and deprivations of Scientology, which as a former staffer he knows all too well, and we’ll move on to another really interesting person who showed up very briefly in one of the new videos put out by the church.


Norman Starkey was once captain of the yacht Apollo, flagship of L. Ron Hubbard’s mini-navy when Hubbard ran Scientology from sea. Starkey also ended up in The Hole, and when we were compiling a list of its prisoners, here’s what Amy Scobee told us about him: “Trustee ASI [Author Services, Inc., Hubbard’s literary agency]. His rank was Captain Right Arm as he was actually a captain of one of the Sea Org vessels in the early days and worked with LRH. He became a shadow of a man. He was on the Anderson Cooper week-long series on violence in Scientology, claiming Miscavige never laid a hand on anyone. He once got his ears boxed so bad that he had ruptured his eardrum. He once was made to wear only diapers by Miscavige. He was part of the group of people who were made to sleep out on the grounds and only take a shower with a hose and poop in a little bucket while chipping rock all day. I saw him hauling wheelbarrows in a blue boiler suit several times after he would be in trouble. He’s originally from South Africa and his wife is Maria Starkey — Miscavige’s typist or secretary (and person who handles his dogs). Norman also held the AVC Aide post for a while.”

But Norman also has another really interesting role in Scientology history. In July 2013, after we broke the news that Leah Remini had defected from Scientology, and that her journey out had begun in the most fascinating way — with a row and a scene at the 2006 wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes in a castle outside Rome — Mike Rinder filled in some more details of that story at his blog.

We had said that Remini, according to our sources, had become curious that Scientology leader David Miscavige, who was best man, was there without his wife, Shelly Miscavige, and appeared a little too friendly to his “communicator,” a female assistant. Leah started asking why Shelly wasn’t at the wedding, and she got a rude response from spokesman Tommy Davis. Leah, incensed, went off to write up a report about the entire night. What Rinder added was the fun detail that what had seemed to set off the night’s craziness was that Starkey imbibed, and then chatted up a particular Hollywood figure — we’ll let you see who in Mike’s version.

Gosh, isn’t this fun? Hey, Dave, keep the videos coming. We’re getting so much out of them!


Scientology in Ireland is crashing

We’ve said it in past years — thank goodness for Irish law. In that country, Scientology has to open up its books and reveal how much revenue it’s taking in. And once again, the yearly report is dismal.

Scientology in Ireland took in under 50,000 euros last year, down from the 73,000 it took in the year before — and way down from the 603,000 it received in 2006.

Pete Griffiths, we blame you!

But seriously, although there are surely local conditions which might not be repeated elsewhere, these results are consistent with what we’ve been seeing around the world — Scientology involvement is crumbling, and fast.

What would it do without its whales?


Bonus photos from our tipsters

Hey, um, Dolly?


LRH would be so proud…


Doing the SRD at the laundromat! Touch the dirty knickers. Tell the dirty knickers to calm down. Estimate the weight of the knickers dirty and clean…


Joy Villa’s new music video dropped, everybody! And she posed with Hobgoblins director Rick Sloane!


Grant Cardone’s caption: “The advice your parents didn’t give you “get rich” I’m so hungry. Get yours you deserve it. If you’re born poor it’s not your fault if you stay poor it is.”


Narconon Latam, staying classy…




On May 14, you will be able to purchase ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ from Amazon in either electronic or print format, and simultaneously in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.

The book will not be available for pre-order before that date. It is going live for sale on Thursday, May 14, and not a moment earlier. And hey, that’s just a few weeks away, so you won’t have to wait long.

Our appearances…

May 16: Santa Barbara Humanist Society (with Paulette Cooper), 3:00 pm
May 17: Center for Inquiry-West Los Angeles, 4773 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, 11 am (with Paulette Cooper)
May 17: CFI Orange County (Costa Mesa), 4:30 pm (with Paulette Cooper)
May 20, San Diego We’re getting some help from locals trying to assist the San Diego Association for Rational Inquiry (SDARI) find a venue for us (appearance with Paulette Cooper)
May 22: San Francisco (with Jamie DeWolf and Paulette Cooper)

(Finalizing a New York City event in early June)

June 20: Chicago
June 22/23: Toronto (with Paulette Cooper)

June 27/28: Florida (with Paulette Cooper)

July 12: Washington DC, Center for Inquiry


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 5, 2015 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB 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 LA 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

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
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


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