Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


East Grinstead councillor resigns amid Scientology controversy: A connection?

[Was Councillor John Dabell fed up with Mayor Visser’s Scientology entanglement?]

For a few months now, we’ve been helping Alex Barnes-Ross document the chaos that seems to have gripped East Grinstead since that English town, which is where Scientology has its UK headquarters, reacted to questions raised by Alex and others about the cozy relationship between local elected officials and the church.

For Alex’s website, we wrote about some of the emails that were pried out of local officials about the interference one regional politician was running for Scientology, and we’ve talked to Alex about how the local town council has tried to scrub the record of pointed questions they were asked about their gladhanding of Scientology.

In particular, we’ve been interested in East Grinstead Mayor Frazer Visser, who has been so chummy with Scientology he was treated to an opportunity to meet with Tom Cruise at a film premiere last summer, and in November, was on stage at Scientology’s charity ball.

Mayor Visser has not only tried to scrub the record of pointed questions asked of him by members of the public at a subsequent town council meeting, but he’s called Alex a “bully” for bringing up the mayor’s penchant for showing up at Scientology events.

We’ve been hearing that behind the scenes, not everyone in local government is happy with the way the mayor has been handling things.


And yesterday, Alex revealed that the chaos appears to have come with some political cost. We sent Alex some questions about what’s going on.

Alex, news broke yesterday that an East Grinstead town Councillor had resigned. How did you hear about it?

A handful of sources close to the council gave me the heads up a couple of weeks ago that one of the Councillors was considering stepping down. Insiders confirmed on February 23 that John Dabell had tendered his resignation with East Grinstead Town Council announcing on February 26 there would be an emergency Council meeting on March 4 to officially declare the ‘casual vacancy’.

What can you tell us about John Dabell and his background on the council?

Dabell is a well respected politician who became a Councillor in 2014, after serving as a flyer in the Royal Navy. He is a devout Christian who also serves on Mid Sussex District Council and at West Sussex County Council. He previously served as East Grinstead Mayor and his shock resignation is not something to be taken likely and sends a clear message that things are awry in local government.

Did Dabell give a reason for leaving so abruptly?

He is yet to release a public statement, but I understand his official reason will be due to health concerns. However, sources close to the Council have told me the Council’s handling of the Scientology scandal, including labelling me a bully, was the catalyst behind his resignation. I hope he takes this opportunity to issue a statement that draws public attention to the severity of the current situation and offers hope to the victims of abuse at Saint Hill, who so far have been silenced and rejected by the Council.

So you do suspect that his leaving has something to do with the chaos that’s been engulfing the council recently regarding their cozy relationship with Scientology and your questions about it?

Absolutely. Dabell is a committed local politician and his resignation will send shockwaves through the community. This is his opportunity to stand up and give a voice to those who have been abused, raped and traumatised by their time at Saint Hill.

Did you learn that the council has taken another step to try and erase the questions that were raised about Scientology at a recent council meeting?

Yesterday the minutes from the Council Meeting on January 29 – during which four members of the public raised Scientology-related questions – were removed from the Council’s website. It is unclear why, or whether they will be reinstated, but the timing is suspicious considering it was this meeting specifically in which Danielle Chamberlin’s heartbreaking account of her abuse at Saint Hill was redacted.

How does a vacancy on the council get resolved?

My understanding is there is now a short window for residents to call a by-election. Only 12 signatures are needed, otherwise the Council will co-opt a replacement.

Does a vacancy on the council provide an opportunity for Scientology to gain even more influence over this government body?


I think this actually does the opposite: A new Councillor will be taking Dabell’s seat, meaning a new person who is a potential threat to Scientology’s influence over the Council. I wouldn’t be surprised if they subtly campaign behind the scenes to ensure a Scientology-friendly replacement is elected, but ultimately it’s down to the people of East Grinstead to elect their new representative.

L. Ron Hubbard’s 113th birthday is coming next week. What do you have planned for the occasion?

Just like the Sea Org, we come back! After a successful protest at the IAS event in November, I thought it’s time we hold a demonstration outside London Org. While Scientologists celebrate his birthday, we’re gathering to celebrate life without LRH. Scientology likes to paint a scary picture of the outside world as a control mechanism to prevent people from leaving. Our mission on March 13th is to show Scientologists it is possible to be happy, and to enjoy life on the outside. It’ll be a party – cake and hats encouraged!


Technology Cocktail

“Any pc, or pre OT, can be run on the missing legs of the lower grades. But not Power after clear. There is not yet Triple Power. There aren’t triple OT sections. There are just Triple grades.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1969



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 [43] Tory Christman [44] Kate Bornstein [45] Christian Stolte [46] Mark Bunker [47] Jon Atack [48] Luke Y. Thompson [49] Mark Ebner [50] Bruce Hines [51] Spanky Taylor and Karen Pressley [51] Geoff and Robbie Levin [52] Sands Hall [53] Jonny Jacobsen [54] Sandy Holeman


Source Code

“Always had a lot of fun riding motorcycles, it’s something I shouldn’t do, not in America. Motorcycles are ridden by delivery boys. They’re ridden by admirals and members of parliament over in England so I always have to ride motorcycles with an English accent anyway, to keep up my social caste, you know, it’s very important.” — L. Ron Hubbard, March 6, 1957


Avast, Ye Mateys

“It should be made known that there has never been ANY order from the Commodore to have Dining Room windows left open so people freeze as they eat. There is an order to Chief Steward to handle cooking smells.” — OOD, March 6, 1971



Overheard in the FreeZone

“I have a vision of an OT (very far advanced of course, nothing like seen here so far) being so cause over banks that this is actually how a planet or universe gets cleared — not one by one that’s a joke — but by being so damn Cause, so damn Big, so damn encompassing and pervasive, that all the negative frequencies and images are transmuted to theta/Light.”


Past is Prologue

1998: The Boston Herald published a week-long series on Scientology. Each day targeted a specific area of Scientology. Some highlights from the series: “Officials at Delphi Academy do not tell parents that the school is part of the Church of Scientology, and that they are trying to recruit blacks for Scientology’s costly programs. Yet they do admit that all staff members are Scientologists and they use Scientology materials. One parent, Harvard Dental School instructor Dr. E. Leo Whitworth, had just such an experience with Delphi Academy. ‘I took two courses at the church,’ Whitworth said. ‘They wanted me as a member. And they did try to get my wife. She started a course but she didn’t finish,’ the dentist said. Whitworth visited the offices of Sterling Management, a for-profit business linked to the Church of Scientology. There, Scientologists tried to sell him a dental office management program. ‘They were trying to get me to use their business techniques,’ he said, but he didn’t like the program and it was too expensive. MIT student Carlos Covarrubias had signed a contract to serve the Church of Scientology for the next billion years – in effect, pledging his eternal soul. Now two Scientologists were helping him stuff underwear and socks into a suitcase at his Back Bay fraternity house while others sat outside on Beacon Street in a car with its engine running. They were preparing to take the 19-year-old to Logan Airport, and from there to the church’s Los Angeles headquarters. ‘His parents were coming up from Florida to save him, so the Scientologists were rushing to get him out of here,’ said Marcus Ottaviano, president of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity, recalling the May 1995 events. An offer of a free personality test enticed Reem Rahim, 31, who said in a Herald interview that she was recruited to Scientology in 1991. Within six weeks she had paid the Boston church $82,000 for Scientology courses – money from an insurance settlement she got after nearly losing her legs in a 1987 car accident. Church salespeople promised Scientology would give Rahim happiness and advanced mental powers, including the ability to remove from her legs the scars caused by the auto accident, she said. An organization with ties to the Church of Scientology is recruiting New England schoolchildren for what critics say is an unproven – and possibly dangerous – anti-drug program. And the group – Narconon Inc. of Everett – is being paid with taxpayer dollars without disclosing its Scientology connections. Narconon was paid at least $942,853 over an eight-year period for delivering anti-drug lectures at public and parochial schools throughout the region, according to federal income tax documents. The method requires vigorous exercise, five hours of saunas, megadoses of up to 5,000 mg of niacin, and doses of cooking oil. Narconon did not disclose any Scientology links in its grant applications from Bell Atlantic, formerly Nynex, which gave Narconon a total of $15,000 in 1991, 1996 and 1997, said Bell Atlantic spokesman Jack Hoey. ‘There is no reference to the Church of Scientology’ in Narconon’s grant applications to Bell Atlantic, Hoey said. However, the church’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, is mentioned several times, he said. ‘The fact that there is a religious affiliation doesn’t mean the application wouldn’t be approved,’ said Hoey, adding that future grant applications from Narconon will be screened closely. His online name was Rogue Agent and his scathing attacks against the Church of Scientology ripped through the Internet. Shielded behind an anonymous account at Northeastern University, he continued to anger and embarrass the church with messages that millions could read online. In Boston, local Scientologists started investigating Rogue Agent, trying to learn his real name and silence him, the church’s critics said. ‘He is really spooked about all the cult agents trying to find him,’ said Jim Byrd, another local Internet critic. ‘He is afraid for the safety of his family,’ Byrd said. ‘Besides tons of lawyers, the cult hires lots of PIs and assorted goons.’


Random Howdy

“Hubbard was definitely trolling people on some level. You can see it in that cartoon lupine grin he was always sporting.”



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. Sentenced to 30 years to life on Sep 7.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Next pretrial hearing March 26, 2024.
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud.

Civil litigation:
Leah Remini v. Scientology, alleging ‘Fair Game’ harassment and defamation: Complaint filed August 2, motion to strike/anti-SLAPP motions by Scientology to be heard January 9, 2024.
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: motion to file new complaint, hearing on March 20.
Jane Doe 1 v. Scientology, David Miscavige, and Gavin Potter: Case unsealed and second amended complaint filed. Scientology moves for religious arbitration, hearing on March 26.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Ordered to mediation.



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] Jenny Burpee, former Scientology Sea Orger and Cat White friend who helped find her, dead at 39
[TWO years ago] Never before published: Jane Doe 1’s plea to Scientology to report rape by Danny Masterson
[THREE years ago] When Rinder met Hubbard: A Scientology story for the ages
[FOUR years ago] Riffer madness: Scientology in a tizzy days before next week’s hearing in Masterson suit
[FIVE years ago] When Scientology’s ‘disconnection’ is forever, and other developments
[SIX years ago] What Scientology TV should be about — but won’t dare to put on the air
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology caught in a lie to federal court — but will the judge care?
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology snags a TV news host, and other social media finds around the world
[NINE years ago] Scientology posts the (nearly) full deposition of reclusive ‘Justice Chief’ Mike Ellis
[TEN years ago] Scientology gets the ‘America’s Book of Secrets’ treatment soon!
[ELEVEN years ago] Scientology Response to Federal Lawsuit: Force The Garcias to Use Church Arbitration


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Tammy Synovec has not seen her daughter Julia in 2,831 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 3,326 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,841 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,391 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,381 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,262 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,566 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,437 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,989 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,330 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,897 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,816 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,984 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,565 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,826 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,862 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,578 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 3,142 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,457 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,632 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 7,183 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,314 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,652 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,507 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,625 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,982 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,285 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,391 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,789 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,665 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,230 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,743 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,997 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 15,106 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on March 6, 2024 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


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email