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Steve Cannane’s statement as publisher settles ‘Deep Sleep’ lawsuit over his book ‘Fair Game’

We were stunned to see the news in the Guardian that Steve Cannane’s publisher, HarperCollins, had not only settled the six-year lawsuit over his book Fair Game, but that it was issuing an apology, and according to the Guardian, Cannane himself would be required not to say anything.

Say what?

If you remember, Cannane’s book was one of the very best about Scientology, and specifically about founder L. Ron Hubbard’s outlandish activities in Australia. In chapter after chapter, Cannane detailed Scientology’s outrageous controversies and abuses with high relief.

However, in one chapter Steve threw the church a bone, pointing out that Scientology’s virulent anti-psychiatry hatred had led it to help uncover a house of horrors, the things going on at Chelmsford Hospital and a misguided “deep sleep” drug therapy that resulted in the deaths of numerous patients.


The whole thing had been exposed in a Royal Commission, which Cannane cited, and included the names of several doctors and administrators who were responsible for the horrific experimentations.

Well, it was two of those named figures who sued the book for defamation, something that wouldn’t have gone anywhere in the US, because a journalist who cites official government investigative conclusions is protected by our First Amendment.

Australia doesn’t have a First Amendment, and in that country’s crazy legal setup, Cannane and his publisher were forced to prove the allegations against these two all over again more than 30 years later, despite what the Royal Commission had found.

They gamely did so, putting on experts who testified that what happened at Chelmsford was as horrific as the government had reported decades ago.

In her 2020 ruling dismissing the defamation claims, Justice Jayne Jagot wrote, “The applicants…relied on their own evidence which was found to be dishonest. In these circumstances, the idea that Mr. Cannane was obliged to give the applicants another opportunity to present their dishonest and self-serving version of events, which had been so comprehensively rejected in the Royal Commission report, is untenable….it was simply unnecessary to give the applicants any further opportunity to attempt to rewrite history.”

Despite that drubbing, however, the two appealed, and a higher court found, incredibly, that it was unfair that the original finders of fact in the Chelmsford inquiry (who are now generally dead) could not be cross-examined. The court remanded the case for retrial.

But with the case already costing HarperCollins millions, the publisher decided to settle. OK, that’s not hard to understand. But it was shameful to see HarperCollins apologizing to these two horrific experimenters (one of whom died during the litigation) and saying it was withdrawing certain ‘allegations.’

Allegations? These were established facts.

Cannane has always stood by what’s in his book, and he has never apologized for it.

And as far his not being able to say anything, that part thankfully turned out not to be the case. We checked with him, and we got the feeling that he’d like to say a lot about what’s going on, but he’s restricted in what he can say. He did send us this statement for publication…

I wrote this book to expose the truth about abuses inside the Church of Scientology. Little did I know that it would end in a lengthy legal battle with someone who was not a Scientologist and was mentioned by name only once in my book.

I wanted to fight this case all the way to the end.

However, I cannot expect HarperCollins to provide a limitless supply of funds to defend my book in a case that has already dragged on for six years and has cost millions of dollars. Even if we won at retrial, it could have been appealed again.

I understand why HarperCollins felt the need to settle and I sincerely want to thank them, and all the lawyers involved, who defended my book and fought for so long.


In my book, when writing about Chelmsford hospital I relied primarily on the findings of the Royal Commission that looked into deep sleep therapy.

I agree with Justice Jagot, now of the High Court of Australia, when she initially dismissed the defamation claim in the Federal Court.

On appeal, the Full Federal Court found that the book was defamatory, overturned Justice Jagot’s judgment and ordered a retrial. I am very disappointed I won’t have the opportunity to defend the book in a retrial.

I strongly believe defamation law and the way it is interpreted by some judges in Australia not only undermines freedom of speech, but also makes public interest journalism far more difficult than it should be. This is not healthy for our democracy and limits our ability to hold powerful people to account.

I believe that in the US, the UK or any EU nation, this case would have been thrown out at the first hurdle.

There’s no doubt he’s right about that. Here in the US, you can’t sue a reporter for citing official government documents.

It’s just a shame Australia can’t get its act together and get some real legal protection for journalists, especially those willing to expose the corrupt and the powerful.


Technology Cocktail

“Authoritarianism is little more than a form of hypnotism. Learning is forced under threat of some form of punishment. A student is stuffed with data which has not been individually evaluated just as a taxidermist would stuff a snake. Such a student will be well-informed and well-educated according to present-day standards, but unfortunately he will not be very successful in his chosen profession.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1959




We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links as Danny faces a potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison. NOW WITH TRIAL INDEX.


THE PODCAST: How many have you heard?

[1] Marc Headley [2] Claire Headley [3] Jeffrey Augustine [4] Bruce Hines [5] Sunny Pereira [6] Pete Griffiths [7] Geoff Levin [8] Patty Moher [9] Marc Headley [10] Jefferson Hawkins [11] Michelle ‘Emma’ Ryan [12] Paulette Cooper [13] Jesse Prince [14] Mark Bunker [15] Jon Atack [16] Mirriam Francis [17] Bruce Hines on MSH

— SPECIAL: The best TV show on Scientology you never got to see

[1] Phil Jones [2] Derek Bloch [3] Carol Nyburg [4] Katrina Reyes [5] Jamie DeWolf

— The first Danny Masterson trial and beyond

[18] Trial special with Chris Shelton [19] Trial week one [20] Marc Headley on the spy in the hallway [21] Trial week two [22] Trial week three [23] Trial week four [24] Leah Remini on LAPD Corruption [25] Mike Rinder 2022 Thanksgiving Special [26] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part One [27] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part Two [28] Claire Headley on the trial [29] Tory Christman [30] Bruce Hines on spying [31] Karen de la Carriere [32] Ron Miscavige on Shelly Miscavige [33] Karen de la Carriere on the L’s [34] Mark Bunker on Miscavige hiding [35] Mark Plummer [36] Mark Ebner [37] Karen Pressley [38] Steve Cannane [39] Fredrick Brennan [40] Clarissa Adams [41] Louise Shekter [42] John Sweeney


Source Code

“It’s very funny, you know: bodies have machinery laid into them from other times. It’s quite interesting. You’ll find some preclear wallowing around one time or another: ‘Well, look what I have done to this body. Look at the horrible machinery and things I have set up.’ Then he wonders why it runs much faster and gets much more solid. Well, some thetan that had the thing on the genetic line way back when has already installed a tremendous number of items. You didn’t install everything that’s wrong with your body.” — L. Ron Hubbard, July 5, 1957



Avast, Ye Mateys

“MOVIES AND BOOKS: I have a movie to rewrite and some book work to do. I wish all hands would get the orgs off my desk. One blessing: I am not having to stir the crew’s soup. Thank you Service Div FSO. I think you’re great! The FAO has no top brass yet. That would help.” — The Commodore, July 5, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“From December 3, 1995, to January 7, 1996, I recovered the memories of several in-between lives incidents. I was a free being. I spent most of my time just being a free being without being in a body at all. There were times, however, when I was temporarily placed in a body at implant stations. In these cases I would eventually get free of the body and continue on my merry way as a free being. As you will see, the difference here on Earth is that there is a SYSTEM to create amnesia and keep a being trapped in a seemingly endless, revolving door CYCLE of re-embodiments. Free beings are invisible to the naked eye. However, they can create and project a visible form or energy, which can be seen by the naked eye. This sometimes occurs in the ‘ghost’ phenomenon. It is not difficult to locate the position of a ‘ghost’ (i.e., a being without a body) in a room, and one can even communicate with it. I have personally experienced this phenomenon. Cats — as you may already have observed — are very good at spotting beings.”


Past is Prologue

1997: Another German TV show is being prepared on Scientology. The crew have been the subject of intense private investigator attention this week. “A German TV crew has been in the US preparing a program on the scientology cult. They were followed and harassed all the way from Florida to Chicago by 5 cars of scientology agents. A number of top scientology criminals have been in Chicago having to testify in the Cynthia Kisser trial and the German group wanted to catch some of that. This TV crew has been followed everywhere day and night. One incident brought the police and the subsequent police report yielded two names of two of these agents in one of the cars. They are: Angel Adrian Casillas Jr. and William Thierry Dechanac (not sure of this spelling). They claim to be employed by Talon Executive Services of 1981 Brookhurst, Suite D-429, Huntington Beach, Calif. 714-434-7476” Gerry Armstrong provided some background on the investigators. “I believe that Angel Casillas was a guy who was staking out/stalking Jerry and Hana Whitfield in LA a few years back. They called the LAPD and Casillas was detained. He brought a bogus lawsuit for false imprisonment against the Whitfields who were represented by LA attorney Toby Plevin. I believe the lawsuit went nowhere and was dismissed.”


Random Howdy


“It’s 10:30 and I’m enjoying a fine bottle of rot gut vodka so I’m in no mood for deciphering new Scientology acronyms.”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Found guilty on two counts on May 31, remanded to custody. Sentencing on Aug 4.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Trial scheduled for August 15.
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud.

Civil litigation:
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Forced to arbitration. Plaintiffs allowed interlocutory appeal to Eleventh Circuit.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Stay in place at least through sentencing of Masterson on Aug 4.
Jane Doe 1 v. Scientology, David Miscavige, and Gavin Potter: Case unsealed and second amended complaint filed. Next hearing August 1.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: New trial ordered after appeals court overturned prior ruling.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Lawsuit filed by the FTC and state of Georgia in August, now in discovery phase.



After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?


[ONE year ago] Of course Scientology works — it has graphs and charts and stuff!
[TWO years ago] Take Scientology’s quiz to see if you qualify for the Sea Org and its billion-year contract!
[THREE years ago] ‘Scientology is dead’ says the ex-con claiming he’s the reincarnated L. Ron Hubbard
[FOUR years ago] More rich donors propping up Scientology are revealed in a church magazine
[FIVE years ago] Shocking molestation claims inside Scientology leaking out before ‘Aftermath’ episode
[SIX years ago] Scientology’s all-hands-on-deck gathering in the Valley caught in pics
[SEVEN years ago] Battle for a Scientology soul: Kazakh 20-year-old ‘prisoner’ is back home, but will she stay?
[EIGHT years ago] LIVE REPORTS: Scientology leader David Miscavige opens “Ideal Org” in Colombia today
[NINE years ago] John Joseph, 1955-2014: A Scientologist, and a friend to the Underground Bunker
[TEN years ago] Has Leah Remini Left the Church of Scientology?
[ELEVEN years ago] Scientology Leader David Miscavige’s Disappeared Wife Shelly: What We Know
[TWELVE years ago] When Scientology Was Hip: E-Meters in the Village


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 3,081 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,596 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,146 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,136 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,017 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,321 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,192 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,297 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,744 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,086 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,652 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,571 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,738 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,320 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,581 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,617 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,333 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,897 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,212 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,387 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,938 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,069 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,407 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,262 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,381 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,737 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,040 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,146 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,544 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,420 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,003 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,498 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,752 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,861 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on July 5, 2023 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2022 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2022), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | Shelly Miscavige, 15 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 | 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

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


Tony Ortega at Rolling Stone


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