Scientology Inc: L. Ron Hubbard Never Appointed David Miscavige as his Successor (Mark Fisher)


Published on Jun 28, 2016


In this podcast Mark Fisher -- David Miscavige's former assistant for many years at the Corporate Liaison Office and later RTC --

discusses how L. Ron Hubbard never appointed David Miscavige as his Successor. Instead, Author Services Inc. was the privately-owned for-profit company

David Miscavige used to stage a palace coup to take over RTC after the death of L. Ron Hubbard.

Church of Scientology former Executive Director International Bill Franks 2/5


Published on Nov 7, 2015


Bill Franks shares a remarkable incident when L Ron Hubbard tells David Mayo and himself that people depart Scientology Inc because of upsets *NOT* because of transgressions or harmful acts "overts" which is absolutely backbone theory of all of Scientology. There are more stories, more important history. Follow me on Facebook - Follow me on Twitter - Radio Podcasts http://www.survivingscientologyradio.... Take and see what recent videos uploaded to YouTube~~

Church of Scientology Exit Zone
A microblog for summarizing ongoing projects, events and resources for helping former members cope with leaving the Church of Scientology.

The real reason people leave Scientology: ARC Breaks

The Edge, June 2010 - Tom Smith interviews Bill Franks who was the first Executive Director International and Chairman of the Board of the Church. Among the topics discussed are Fair Game, Paulette Cooper, the framing of Mary Sue, orders issued against elected officials of a major Western government, Miscavige's psychopathy, Hubbard's psychopathy, etc. The way Bill explains the story of the Hubbard dispatch that admitted people blow due to ARC Breaks (upsets) rather than transgressions, and giving that story the full context, is very good. Take a visit to Scientology's version of the Twilight Zone. The story about Bill Franks is a story about another highly trained Sea Org executive who served directly under LRH, and was later busted by David Miscavige and his team. It is worth noticing that most of the highest Sea Org Executives who was appointed and trained directly by LRH have been SP declared or removed by the current management: David Mayo (Snr C/S Int), Bill Franks (ED Int), Mary Sue Hubbard (Captain and chief of Guardian Office), Bill Robertson (Captain and special missionaire for LRH). Bill Franks joined Scientology in 1968 studying the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course at Saint Hill UK, directly under LRH. He joined staff and went up the Org Board. He was CO AOLA and ended up as ED Int, appointed for life personally by LRH. He was also the Chairmann of the Board of Directors, Church of Scientology International. He was Class IX auditor, OT VII and OEC FEBC graduate. He reached the highest level of administrative training, doing the FEBC directly under LRH on the Flag ship. In December 1981 he was voted out by the Board of Directors, David Miscavige was on the Board. On 12th August 1982 he was SP declared by Watchdog Committee (also David Miscavige).

gwellsNew Member
Here is my story about brainwashing
As you know I have tried unsuccessfully to get this posted elsewhere. I have tried also to tell this story many times since it occurred to me that it might be helpful, but it does not seem to be of interest or there is a lot of apathy out there which is certainly understandable. I retell this here as it is about the tech and I think its useful in explaining a lot of what has happened over the years. 
Firstly, I swear that this is the absolute and complete truth even though it occurred 37 years ago.
Secondly, a little about me which might put things into perspective as to why I saw what I am about to say as very significant and in a way horrific.I was in the SO for a little under 14 years. I attained the "rank' of Lt. Commander through promotions only by Hubbard. I was OEC and FEBC(trained by Hubbard) , HSDC, Class nine when I left in December 27 1981, as well as DSEC, Nots auditor, plus assorted other stuff. I was OT five plus nots, plus sec checked up the wazoo over the years. I also audited between 3-4000 hours conservatively speaking-probably much more, a lot of this was under Hub as the C/S. I spent about 3 1/2 years working with Hubbard pretty directly on the ship at various posts.I got to know him as well as anybody did.
My last position was Chairman of the Board and ED Int both by directive of LRH personally.
Thirdly and to the point of all this preamble, on one night in 1974 I found myself in David mayo's office in the tween decks of the Apollo.
It was very late or early in the morning. We were ,I believe in the port of Safi, Morrocco. A student of mine, I was currently D of T and Mayo was Flag Snr C/S, had blown. Hubbard was extremely angry with us due to this blown student of mine on the FEBC program. In an attempt to show Hubbard what we had done to handle this guy we collected up all the sec checking that he had received over the last 2 months, it had been a lot poor guy, and presented it to him along with an outline of this student's progress on the courses he had taken. We had also wanted to show him how we had been careful that he hadn't gone by misunderstoods, etc.
We waited and waited and about 0300 hrs a messenger came down with a Despatch written by LRH. My memory does not recall any folders being returned. The despatch was entitled Very Confidential underlined. "He went onto say that if you or Franks ever reveal any of this information that I am about to reveal, the consequences will be severe for SCN." 
He then wrote" a person does not blow due Overts or Witholds. He blows only due to ARC BKs". 
"However, If any of this information ever became public,I would lose all control of the orgs and eventually Scientology as a whole".signed "LRH"
Both Mayo and me looked at one another completely incredulously. I cannot speak for Dave but I was completely flabbergasted as I realized at that point of digestion that he is talking about something that 75-80% of the tech is premised upon. Furthermore, the OEC/FEBC was currently anchored by the latest" development" at the time -being the L's, L-10,11, & 12.which for tose who don't know is about OW's. I don't believe Mayo or I talked about this again until we were out where I saw him at his auditing facility in Montecito, California in 1983. I believed we were a bit shell shocked about this.
As for me, I began to see more and more that scientology was merely a big prison camp. I stayed in for another 7 plus years but I was always mindful of this and always had in mind changing this "tech". I believe it is the key to what we have all seen and experienced as brainwashing.
That is all. I hope someone who want to use this will do so as there is no doubt that there is good in the tech it is just a matter of where is it.
How do you sort out the good and the bad and at the same time keep the good without throwing out the baby with the bath water.
I regret that I could not fix this during my tenure.
Best, wogman Bill Franks

MysticBanned: :: sigh :::

Mystic, Feb 26, 2011
Mark A. BakerSponsor
gwells said: ↑
Here is my story about brainwashing. As you know I have tried unsuccessfully to get this posted elsewhere. I have tried also to tell this story many times since it occurred to me that it might be helpful, but it does not seem to be of interest or there is a lot of apathy out there which is certainly understandable. I retell this here as it is about the tech and I think its useful in explaining a lot of what has happened over the years. …. Bill Franks..
Thanks for the story & the insights it provides. 
Mark A. Baker
p.s. Welcome to the board, Bill.
Mark A. Baker, Feb 26, 2011

The Hubbard-thing was an artificially conjured being and as such couldn't tell his hole from an ass in the ground.
Mystic, Feb 26, 2011

Panda Termint said: ↑
Does anyone know anything more about this?
Yeah, a bit;this follows from an interesting FB conversation that Robyn Scott and Bill had with two indies. 
I was about to write to Bill to ask for this info so I'm glad it came up here.
I don't know if Gwells is Bill or a third person.
But thanks Bill and/or Gwells, very interesting story.!
Last edited: Feb 26, 2011
Free to shineShiny & Free
Feral, Feb 26, 2011
We waited and waited and about 0300 hrs a messenger came down with a Despatch written by LRH. My memory does not recall any folders being returned. The despatch was entitled Very Confidential underlined. "He went onto say that if you or Franks ever reveal any of this information that I am about to reveal, the consequences will be severe for SCN." 
He then wrote" a person does not blow due Overts or Witholds. He blows only due to ARC BKs". 
"However, If any of this information ever became public,I would lose all control of the orgs and eventually Scientology as a whole".signed "LRH"
Both Mayo and me looked at one another completely incredulously. I cannot speak for Dave but I was completely flabbergasted as I realized at that point of digestion that he is talking about something that 75-80% of the tech is premised upon. Furthermore, the OEC/FEBC was currently anchored by the latest" developpment" at the time -being the L's, L-10,11, & 12.which for tose who don't know is about OW's. I don't believe Mayo or I talked about this again until we were out where I saw him at his auditing facility in Montecito, California in 1983. I believed we were a bit shell shocked about this.
As for me, I began to see more and more that scientology was merely a big prison camp. I stayed in for another 7 plus years but I was always mindful of this and always had in mind changing this "tech". I believe it is the key to what we have all seen and experienced as brainwashing…Bill Franks
Very interesting and, when you think about it, it's obvious.
I guess we were all ARC broken when we left the cult, but being that we were still fresh from the indoctrination, we looked for our O/W's - I know I did. I thought OK, I'd stuffed up here and there but no rabid SP stuff.
Later, after a few years away from the crap, I realised that I had a lot of disagreements with the Tech and the organisation. Was that a break in reality? It sure was.
Why Hubbard would point this out and potentially weaken his position of power though, is not so obvious.
Thanks for your post.
LongTimeGone, Feb 26, 2011
In February 2011 and incredible testimonial account from Bill Franks, the former international executive director (ED Int) of the Church of Scientology, attesting to one of the biggest secrets behind the brainwashing aspects of Scientology Technology.

Who is Bill Franks?

Bill Franks joined Scientology in 1968 studying the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course at Saint Hill UK, directly under L. Ron Hubbard. He joined staff and went up the Org Board. In December 1979, he was appointed by Hubbard to be "Senior Management Executive International." Franks eventually ended up as ED Int, likewise appointed personally by LRH in December 1980. He also served as the Commanding Officer of AOLA and was the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Church of Scientology International.
Training-wise, Franks was a Class IX auditor, OT VII and OEC FEBC graduate. He reached the highest level of administrative training, doing the FEBC directly under LRH on the Flag ship. In December 1981, Bill Franks was thrown out of his office in Clearwater and fired from his position executive director. In August 1982, he was declared a suppressive person by the Watchdog Committee.
Bill Franks' story about brainwashing
Firstly, I swear that this is the absolute and complete truth even though it occurred 37 years ago.
Secondly, a little about me which might put things into perspective as to why I saw what I am about to say as very significant and in a way horrific. I was in the SO for a little under 14 years. I attained the "rank' of Lt. Commander through promotions only by Hubbard. I was OEC and FEBC (trained by Hubbard), HSDC, Class IX when I left in December 27 1981, as well as DSEC, NOTs auditor, plus assorted other stuff. I was OT V plus NOTs, plus sec checked up the wazoo over the years. I also audited between 3-4000 hours conservatively speaking-probably much more, a lot of this was under Hub as the C/S. I spent about 3 1/2 years working with Hubbard pretty directly on the ship at various posts. I got to know him as well as anybody did.  
Thirdly and to the point of all this preamble, on one night in 1974 I found myself in David mayo's office in the tween decks of the Apollo. 
It was very late or early in the morning. We were, I believe in the port of Safi, Morocco. A student of mine, I was currently D of T and Mayo was Flag Senior C/S, had blown. Hubbard was extremely angry with us due to this blown student of mine on the FEBC program. In an attempt to show Hubbard what we had done to handle this guy we collected up all the sec checking that he had received over the last 2 months, it had been a lot poor guy, and presented it to him along with an outline of this student's progress on the courses he had taken. We had also wanted to show him how we had been careful that he hadn't gone by misunderstoods, etc. We waited and waited and about 0300 hrs a messenger came down with a Despatch written by LRH. My memory does not recall any folders being returned. 

The despatch was entitled Very Confidential underlined. "He went onto say that if you or Franks ever reveal any of this information that I am about to reveal, the consequences will be severe for SCN."  
He then wrote "a person does not blow due Overts or Witholds. He blows only due to ARC BKs.  
"However, if any of this information ever became public, I would lose all control of the orgs and eventually Scientology as a whole." Signed, LRH.

Both Mayo and me looked at one another completely incredulously. I cannot speak for Dave but I was completely flabbergasted as I realized at that point of digestion that he is talking about something that 75-80% of the tech is premised upon. Furthermore, the OEC/FEBC was currently anchored by the latest" development" at the time -being the L's, L-10, 11 & 12. Which for those who don't know is about OW's. I don't believe Mayo or I talked about this again until we were out where I saw him at his auditing facility in Montecito, California in 1983. I believed we were a bit shell shocked about this. 
As for me, I began to see more and more that Scientology was merely a big prison camp. I stayed in for another 7 plus years but I was always mindful of this and always had in mind changing this "tech." I believe it is the key to what we have all seen and experienced as brainwashing.
That is all. I hope someone who wants to use this will do so as there is no doubt that there is good in the tech it is just a matter of where is it. 
How do you sort out the good and the bad and at the same time keep the good without throwing out the baby with the bath water. 
I regret that I could not fix this during my tenure.
Best, wogman Bill Franks
The discussion board post excerpted above originally occurred on Facebook (see image to the right) in response to a message Robin Scott posted to Bill Franks timeline. It was passed on to the ESMB community by "gwells," a friend of Bill's who was helping him navigate the internet. 
Despite initial disbelief, Karen de la Carriere initially confirmed it was indeed posted by Bill Franks. Once Bill navigated his way through the registration ESMB process, he personally confirmed it himself.
Additionally, Glenn Samuels independently confirmed this account with through a source close to David Mayo who is unable to speak out directly due to a gag order he was forced to sign during a legal settlement with the Church of Scientology.
Similar to Bill, Glenn lived and worked aboard the Flagship Apollo where he was also personally trained as a counselor by Hubbard. Glenn left Scientology in 1982 after seeing Scientology’s corruption and greed firsthand. His response to Bill's remarks was that "it makes sense; did you leave because you committed some huge crime? Probably not. You left because of abuse, human rights violations, or some other form of harassment."

Additional insights
The Edge with Tom Smith, June 2010 - a previously recorded interview with Bill Franks was re-published on YouTube in January 2014. The topics discussed include Fair Game, Paulette Cooper, the framing of Mary Sue, orders issued against elected officials of a major Western government, Miscavige's psychopathy, Hubbard's psychopathy, etc. Bill also explains the story of the Hubbard despatch that admitted people blow due to ARC Breaks (upsets) rather than transgressions.
This interview was most likely Franks' original telling of his first hand account regarding Hubbard's emphasis on O/W being the source of people leaving the Church Scientology being a blatant deception instituted to control people.
Furthermore, this deception should raise questions regarding the real purpose of Scientology Ethics, PTS/SP tech and Sec Checks. If Hubbard was right when he stated that human beings are basically good, then what is it about Scientology that causes a need for all these coercive tactics, corrections and punishments?

1982 CW Scientology Hearings - Lavenda Van Schaick - Day 4

Mark Bunker
Published on May 3, 2012
Lavenda Van Schaick testifies about the living conditions of children and contends that hepatitis swept through the Clearwater base in 1977.

Playlist of Full Hearings: //

Steve Hall's unique journey in and out of Scientology Inc Part 1


Published on Jun 23, 2014


The first and earliest site on the Web which was most ex-Religious Technology Center and ex Sea org vets

that exposed the internal conduct and behavior of the Scientology Cult hierarchy (Gold Base/Int base) was the site created by Steve Hall. Steve spent 22 years in the Sea Org (mostly at INT Base) and he shares his thoughts and stories in his first interview.

Radio Podcasts http://www.survivingscientologyradio....

Church of Scientology former Executive Director Bill Franks on Hubbard, Miscavige 1/3


Published on Sep 24, 2015

Church of Scientology former Executive Director International Bill Franks discusses L. Ron Hubbard, David Miscavige.

This is a knock out video with a lot of data never previously released.

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1982 CW Scientology Hearings - Ernest and Adelle Hartwell - Day 3

Mark Bunker

Published on May 3, 2012

The Hartwells were not Scientologists yet they wound up working alongside L. Ron Hubbard at Golden Era Studios.

They were witness to the insanity that came with the Sea Org but without the indoctrination.

Playlist of Full Hearings: // 

These two ballroom dancers thought they were coming to Clearwater to be with their daughter but instead found themselves in a hidden, desert compound.

Scientology Insider Dan Koon - Part 1 of His Story


Published on Sep 3, 2016

Former Sea Org member Dan Koon worked in the compilations unit of Scientology (RTRC) where Hubbard's writings were turned into official Scientology books, lectures, and publications.

Many of these products were sold to Scientologists and the public and thus represented a significant income stream for the Church. Accordingly, David Miscavige micromanaged compilations and Dan worked closely with Miscavige.

After leaving the Sea Org, Dan Koon later helped Ron Miscavige Sr. to write his New York Times bestselling book -- Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me.

Scientology Insider Dan Koon - Part 2: Ron Miscavige's book Ruthless & More


Published on Sep 13, 2016

Dan Koon ghost wrote Ron Miscavige Sr.'s book Ruthless.

In this interview Dan discusses the writing and vetting process of the book and addresses criticisms.

Dan also shares highlights of his 27 years in the Sea Org.

1982 CW Scientology Hearings - Ron DeWolf - Day 1

Mark Bunker

Published on May 3, 2012

Ron DeWolf (L. Ron Hubbard Jr.) was the son of Hubbard and worked very closely with his father during the growth of Scientology in the 1950's.

He had a very rocky relationship with his dad and ultimately wound up testifying against him in court.

Playlist of Full Hearings: //

Meet Mat Pesch Scientology Sea Org Veteran ~ Part One


Published on Jul 21, 2014

Mat Pesch was a Sea Org member for almost thirty years. After routing out ijn 2005, Mat and his wife Amy Scobee went "under the radar" and wrote the now famous "Little Dickie Bedtime Stories."


These stories helped to expose David Miscavige and the greed and violence inside the Church of Scientology. Mat Pesch was the Treasury Secretary of the Flag Service Organization (FSO) in Clearwater, Florida.

In this interview with Jeffrey Augustine, Mat recounts his experiences as Treasury Secretary in the 1990's.

Mat corroborates the fact that Alexander Jentzsch was sexually molested at twelve years of age at Flag Land Base by Marie Warren, a 40 year old Sea Org member.

After the sexual molestation was discovered by Church officials, the police were not called.

Instead, Mat was ordered to find money for the airline tickets needed to fly Alexander and the Sea Org rapist out of the jurisdiction of local and state law enforcement.

Mat offers his opinion that the Ideal Orgs were an "unusual solution" to Flag's enormous Advanced Payments liability. Radio Podcasts http://www.survivingscientologyradio.... 
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Mat Pesch ex Scientologist states knew knows of children and adult females being raped, at the Scientology bases, and are never reported to the police. All that would happen is that the people involved would be flown out of the area by Scientology … Mat Pesch was the secretary who had to organize the funds to pay for  airfares to the people involved in the rape of children and adults out of the area …

The make girls to get abortions and deliberately drive the pregnant girls to different area to obtain their abortions…

$1.7 million per week from the main Flag Organization

All up $2.2 to $2.5 million income of tax free money…

What happens to the money

Some expenses have to be paid

And the rest of the money goes upline..

Church of Scientology International ….

All the money goes into an executive for Church of Scientology International ….

Who decide what will be given back to the local Org base.

The amount of money given back to the local organization at the finance meetings does not increase each month, even if the local base brings in more income …

$100,000 of free auditing for Tom Cruise and his family ..

Mat Pesch  reported Tom and his Family for getting free ordering … to David Miscavige

So he ends of getting sent to work in the mill to make furniture……. from a senior executive..

In the late 1980’s was about 800 850 staff at Flag and it is still the same number to day Now 1,200 to 1,300 people …

They are paid very little money in wages…

They can not afford their room and board so they work extra hours to pay for their room and board…. like cleaning hotel rooms, washing dishes etc …

There is $1.5 billion plus dollars in assets …in the organizations associated with the Church of Scientology 

Chuck Beatty discusses David Miscavige, Scientology, and Author Services Inc


Published on Jul 11, 2014

Former Sea Org member Chuck Beatty and Jeffrey Augustine discuss a perennial debate:

Did L. Ron Hubbard appoint David Miscavige his successor, or, did David Miscavige seize power?

Chuck also discusses his experiences in Author Services Incorporated and the way Miscavige used ASI to assume power over the Church prior to becoming COB RTC.

Chuck describes how ASI was created as a legal way to funnel money to L. Ron Hubbard.

Jeff mentions a little known fact: David Miscavige had a life-threatening asthma attack in 1980.

Emerging from this crisis in a hospital emergency room, David Miscavige told Paul Grady that he had a revelation that "Power is Assumed" and thereafter began to assume power in the Church by whatever means it required.

This is part 2 of an on going Series exposing "Author Services".

Radio Podcasts http://www.survivingscientologyradio.... 

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Gerald "Gerry" Armstrong - L. Ron Hubbard’s Assistant - Secret Lives - Scientology - Dianetics.


Published on Feb 27, 2015

Gerald "Gerry" Armstrong - L. Ron Hubbard’s Assistant & Sea Org Member.

Former member of the Church of Scientology and one of its most active critics. "Secret Lives" Scientology - Dianetics.

This video is uploaded with the intent of educating the public regarding Scientology and its belief structure and to help preserve the tech for future generations.

Arthur Jean Cox - Sci Fi Writer - Colleague of L. Ron Hubbard - Secret Lives - Scientology


Published on Jan 30, 2015

Arthur Jean Cox Sci Fi Writer Colleague of L. Ron Hubbard Contributor to Astounding Magazine "Secret Lives" Scientology - Dianetics. Arthur Cox Arthur J Cox This video is uploaded with the intent of educating the public regarding Scientology and its belief structure and to help preserve the tech for future generations.

The truth rundown Rathbun 14 The Lisa Mcpherson case


Published on Oct 23, 2011

The Most Authorative Lisa McPherson Video Ever Made


Published on Feb 11, 2009

Lisa McPherson was left to die by members of the Church of Scientology in 1995.

Her death was entirely avoidable and remains one of the most heinous crimes ever perpetrated by the sinister church.

This video contains autopsy photographs of Lisa.

These were approved for public release by Lisas family in 1998 and are a reflection of the final words of Lisa's mother, Fanny McPherson,

"I want the world to know what Scientology did to Lisa."

Bear Faced Messiah - Chapter 8 The Mystery of the Missing Research

The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard is a posthumous biography of Scientology founder
L. Ron Hubbard by British journalist Russell Miller. Originally published: 26 October1987 Author: Russell Miller, Genre: Biography, Page count: 380, Publisher: Michael Joseph, Subject: L. Ron Hubbard

'In 1948, Mr Hubbard's first writings on the nature of life and the human mind began to circulate privately. Passed from hand to hand, word quickly spread that he had made a revolutionary breakthrough . . .' (L. Ron Hubbard, The Man and His Work, 1986)

(Scientology's account of the years 1946-50.)

After their wedding in Maryland, Hubbard and his young bride returned to California and found an apartment at Laguna Beach, a resort much favoured by artists and writers, half-way between Los Angeles and San Diego. John Steinbeck lived there when he was writing his first major novel, Tortilla Flat, a factor Ron no doubt took into consideration when he was looking for a place to settle down and resume his career as a writer.

The problem was that he could neither settle down nor write. Indeed, to judge from his bulging file at the Veterans Administration, in 1946 Ron largely directed his literary talents to the diligent pursuit of a bigger pension. On 19 September, he limped into the VA medical centre in Los Angeles with a miserable litany of by now familiar complaints: 'Eyes are sensitive to bright sunlight and I can't read very much and I have severe headaches . . . My stomach trouble keeps me on a very rigid diet - can only eat milk, eggs, ground meat and strained vegetables . . . I tire quickly and become nauseated when I work hard . . . My left shoulder, hip - in fact the entire left side is bothered with arthritic pains - can't sit any length of time at typewriter or desk . . .'

Once again, the doctors did not seem to be able to find anything markedly wrong with the veteran, other than calcified bursitis, a touch of arthritis in his ankles apparently causing him to walk with a 'hobble-like gait' and 'minimal duodenal deformity'. On the examination report it was noted that there were no scars or indications of gunshot wounds or other injuries.[1]

It was perhaps just as well for Ron that the Veterans Administration did not have access to his private journals, for a very different picture was presented therein. Several scrawled pages were filled with

'Affirmations', many of which concerned his health. Had he been a little more circumspect, the 'Affirmations' could have been viewed as a brave attempt to make light of his ailments, or to cure himself through sheer strength of will, for in some of them he seemed to be trying to convince himself that he was fit:

'Your ulcers are all well and never bother you. You can eat anything.

'You have a sound hip. It never hurts.

'Your shoulder never hurts.

'Your sinus trouble is nothing.'

Unfortunately for his place in posterity, he frequently chose to elaborate. Thus he confessed that his stomach trouble was a device he had used to get out of punishment in the Navy, his bad hip was a pose and his foot injury was an alibi: 'The injury is no longer needed. It is well. You have perfect and lovely feet.' A few of the Affirmations were also stamped with the faintly sinister mark of Aleister Crowley, as in 'Men are your slaves' and 'You can be merciless whenever your will is crossed and you have the right to be merciless.'

VA doctors would undoubtedly have found them fascinating reading, not least for the insight they provided into Hubbard's psyche and his attitude towards the VA:

'When you tell people you are ill, it has no effect upon your health. And in Veterans Administration examinations you'll tell them how sick you are; you'll look sick when you take it; you'll return to health one hour after the examination and laugh at them.

'No matter what lies you may tell others, they have no physical effect on you of any kind. You never injured your health by saying it is bad. You cannot lie to yourself.'[2]

By October, Hubbard was once again down to his last few dollars and when a friend offered him a temporary job taking care of a boat at the yacht club on Santa Catalina Island he jumped at the opportunity. After less than six weeks at Laguna Beach, Sara uncomplainingly packed their bags and prepared to move on. It was a situation with which she would become all too familiar in the months ahead.

While staying at the Catalina Island Yacht Club, Ron managed to stir himself to write an article about fishing for the local newspaper, the Catalina Islander, but this was his only published work in 1946. On 14 November, he wrote to the Veterans Administration from the Yacht Club to complain that his last two pension cheques had not been forwarded. 'I need this money, little as it is, very badly,' he wrote 'and would appreciate any expedition which the matter can be given.'

A week later, he wrote again to explain why he had failed to show up for another medical examination which the VA had requested in October. 'I was unable to report for further examination because I was both ill and broke . . . I certainly hope you can scare me up something by way of a pension for I am not eating very well these days and this job I have will vanish shortly.'[3]

Vanish it did and by the beginning of December Ron and Sara were in New York, staying at the Hotel Belvedere, West 48th Street. On 8 December he wrote on hotel notepaper to acknowledge receiving orders to report for another examination, explaining his expensive address by saying that a friend had financed his trip back East in return for his advice on an expedition then being planned.

While he was in New York, Ron naturally looked up his old science fiction friends and one of them introduced him to Sam Merwin, who was then editing the 'Thrilling' group of magazines. 'I found him a very amusing guy,' Merwin recalled, 'and bought several stories from him. He was really quite a character. I always knew he was exceedingly anxious to hit big money - he used to say he thought the best way to do it would be to start a cult.'[4]

Ron also called on his old friend and mentor, John W. Campbell, in his familiar office in the Street and Smith building. Campbell was delighted to welcome Ron back from the war; he had written to him a year earlier[5] pleading for contributions ('Astounding is in a mell of a hess. I need - and but bad - stories. Any length.') and now he urged Ron to get back to work. He was constantly getting letters from readers, he said, asking when the magazine was going to publish more stories by L. Ron Hubbard. Before he left the building, Ron accepted an assignment to write a five thousand-word feature about the consequences of man landing on the moon for Air Trails and Science Frontiers, a new non-fiction magazine which Campbell had recently launched.

Despite his terrible eye-strain and rheumatism and ulcers and everything else, Hubbard managed to put together an imaginative and informative piece. He prophesied that the first moon landing would take place within five or ten years and argued that a lunar military base would have enormous strategic value. 'It is entirely within reason', he wrote, 'that the nation which demonstrates the courage, intelligence and industrial proficiency necessary to establish a base on the moon will rule the world.'

'Fortress in the Sky', under the byline of Captain B.A. Northorp, was the cover story in the May 1947 issue of Air Trails. The reason Hubbard did not use his own name could be found buried deep in the text. Although he packed the feature with authoritative and impressive detail about the composition and environment of the moon, he simply could not resist the opportunity for further self-aggrandisement. In a section discussing the technical problems of reaching the moon by rocket, he wrote: 'Here and there throughout the world many men have been thinking about rockets for some time. I recall that in 1930, L. Ron Hubbard, a writer and engineer, developed and tested - but without fanfare - a rocket motor considerably superior to the V-2 instrument of propulsion and rather less complicated.'

Campbell was still a meticulous editor and a stickler for accuracy. If he believed that his friend was developing rocket motors in 1930 at the age of nineteen, he was also extraordinarily naïve. It is more likely that he turned a blind eye to keep Ron happy in the hope that he would soon return to the pages of Astounding.

Ron and Sara only stayed a matter of weeks in New York. In the New Year they were on the move again, this time to the unprepossessing environs of Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, just south of the Pocono Mountains. There Ron fulfilled Campbell's hopes by writing a novel, The End Is Not Yet, about a young nuclear physicist's attempts to prevent the world being taken over by constructing a new philosophical system. It was serialized in three parts in Astounding later in the year, although it was not as well received as some of Ron's earlier work.

On 14 April 1947, the long-suffering Polly filed for a divorce in Port Orchard, Washington, on the grounds of desertion and non-support. She was still unaware that her husband had 're-married'; she did not even know he was living with another woman. That situation was soon to change.

Three weeks after Polly set divorce proceedings in motion, Ron scandalized his family by moving into The Hilltop with Sara. 'It was an awful slap in the face for his mother,' said his Aunt Marnie. 'Hub and May deeply disapproved. It was very difficult for them as they had Polly and the children living with them. The family clammed up about it and never mentioned it. When Ron took Sara up to The Hilltop I said to my sister, "Well, we loved him as a child, Midgie, but he's a perfect stranger to us now."'[6]

The family would have been even more shocked had they known that Ron had married Sara; only Ron's friend, Mac Ford, knew the truth and he kept quiet. 'I ran into Ron one evening when he was taking the children to the theatre in Bremerton,' Ford said. 'We hadn't seen each other since before the war and when we were talking in the lobby he mentioned something about marrying again. I thought it was strange because I knew that he was not divorced from Polly, but I did not say anything because I didn't want to get involved.'[7]

Hubbard filed an agreement to the divorce on 1 June and an interlocutory decree was awarded on 23 June. Polly was given custody of the children, costs and $25 a month maintenance for each child. Knowing Ron, she did not cherish much hope of the maintenance payments arriving regularly, if at all.

Ron and Sara left The Hilltop in July and returned to California, to a rented trailer on a lot in the seediest section of North Hollywood, where he began writing the first of the popular 'Ole Doc Methuselah' stories - rousing yarns about a Soldier of Light and his devoted four-armed slave, Hippocrates, who travel around the universe in a golden spaceship saving entire civilizations from death and disease and overthrowing despotic inter-planetary dictators as a sideline.

In August, the month The End Is Not Yet began serialization in Astounding, Ron acquired a literary agent. Forrest Ackerman was not a big-time Hollywood agent with a fat cigar, but a young man with thick horn-rimmed spectacles who had been addicted to science fiction ever since he first picked up a copy of Amazing Stories at the age of nine.

'Forrie' Ackerman would one day be the proud owner of the world's biggest collection of science-fiction magazines and would drive around Los Angeles in a red Cadillac with SCI-FI on the licence plate, but in 1947 he was still struggling to capitalize on his devotion to the genre by persuading science-fiction writers that he could represent them. Then thirty years old, he had actually met Hubbard ten years earlier in Shep's Shop, a second-hand bookshop on Hollywood Boulevard which specialized in science fiction.

'I was browsing in Shep's Shop one night in 1937 when I got into conversation with this young red-haired man who told me he held a world record in gliding. He said his name was L. Ron Hubbard and that he had had a lot of adventure stories published in pulp magazines. I asked him if he had ever tried his hand at science fiction and he said, no, oddly enough, he hadn't. But right there, on the spot, he began to outline the plot for a science fiction story set in California 25,000 years in the future, during a second Ice Age. I never saw that story in print, but it seemed to plant a seed in his mind . . .'

Ackerman liked to believe that their brief encounter in Shep's Shop was the spur that started Ron Hubbard writing science fiction. His first act on his new client's behalf was to take him to meet G. Gordon Dewey and Peter Grainger, two Los Angeles businessmen who wanted to diversify into publishing. The meeting was not a marked success: there was some desultory discussion about buying rights to some of Hubbard's novels, but nothing was concluded. Afterwards, Ron offered to drive Forrie back to his apartment in New Hampshire. It was a journey Ackerman would never forget, for on the way Ron began to tell him the incredible story of how he had died on an operating table during the war.

'I remember he had an old rattletrap of a car and he was chewing tobacco. As he drove he would open the door with one hand and squirt tobacco juice out onto the road. When we got to my apartment we sat outside in the car while he continued with the story. It was after five o'clock in the morning, and the sun was coming up, before he had finished.

'Basically what he told me was that after he died he rose in spirit form and looked back on the body he had formerly inhabited. Over yonder he saw a fantastic great gate, elaborately carved like something you'd see in Baghdad or ancient China. As he wafted towards it, the gate opened and just beyond he could see a kind of intellectual smorgasbord on which was outlined everything that had ever puzzled the mind of man. All the questions that had concerned philosophers through the ages - When did the world begin? Was there a God? Whither goest we? - were there answered. All this information came flooding into him and while he was absorbing it, there was a sort of flustering in the air and he felt something like a long umbilical cord pulling him back. He was saying "No, no, not yet!", but he was pulled back anyway. After the gates had closed he realized he had re-entered his body.

'He opened his eyes and found a nurse standing over him looking very concerned. Just as a surgeon walked into the room, Ron said, "I was dead, wasn't I?" The surgeon shot a venomous look at the nurse as if to say, "What have you been telling this guy?" But Ron said "No, no, I know I was dead."

'The next part of the story I would find very difficult to direct realistically if I was a movie director. According to Ron, he jumped off the operating table, ran to his Quonset hut, got two reams of paper and a gallon of scalding black coffee and for the next 48 hours, at a blinding rate, he wrote a work called Excalibur, or The Dark Sword.

'Well, he kept the manuscript with him and when he left the Navy he shopped it around publishers in New York, but was constantly turned down. He was told it was too radical, too much of a quantum leap. If it had been a variation of Freud or Jung or Adler, a bit of an improvement here and there, it would have been acceptable, but it was just too far ahead of everything else. He also said that as he shopped the manuscript around, the people who read it either went insane or committed suicide. The last time he showed it to a publisher, he was sitting in an office waiting for a reader to give his opinion. The reader walked into the office, tossed the manuscript on the desk and then threw himself out of the window.

'Ron would not tell me much about Excalibur except that if you read it you would find all fear would be totally drained from you. I could never see what was wrong with that or why that would cause anyone to commit suicide.'[8]

Ackerman was frankly incredulous, but was impressed by the sincerity and conviction with which Ron told the story. He also recognized, as an aspiring literary agent, that Excalibur could be just the kind of thing to get a new publishing venture off the ground.

Later that morning he telephoned Gordon Dewey and Peter Grainger, repeated the story Ron had told him and asked them if they would take a look at the manuscript. His sly hint of the potential risk only served to whet their appetites. 'They were mad keen to see it,' Ackerman said. 'I remember Dewey saying, "No combination of words, ideas or philosophy will have that effect on me!"'

Ackerman reported the good news to his client, but Hubbard, suddenly and uncharacteristically bashful, refused to produce the manuscript. 'He said it was in a bank vault and it was going to stay there. I think he was quite sincere. He seemed like a man who had seen too many people go crazy or commit suicide, who had enough on his conscience already. I never did get to see the manuscript or show it to any publisher. In fact, I never encountered anyone who said they had seen it.'

Despite Forrie's best efforts, Ron did not make anything like a living wage as a writer in 1947. After The End Is Not Yet, he sold two Ole Doc Methuselah stories to Astounding, a short story, 'Killer's Law', to New Detective and a novel, The Chee-Chalker, to Five Novels Monthly. The income generated from these five stories was barely sufficient to support himself, let alone his present wife, his former wife and his two teenage children.

In October, Ron discovered he could qualify for $90 a month subsistence from the VA if he enrolled at college. He promptly signed on as a student at the Geller Theater Workshop on the corner of Fairfax and Wilshire, but he was still determined to pursue a better disability pension. Two weeks later he composed a letter to the VA in Los Angeles unquestionably designed to tug at bureaucratic heartstrings by painting a pathetic picture of a confused and helpless veteran on the brink of a total breakdown:


This is a request for treatment . . . 
After trying and failing for two years to regain my equilibrium in civil life, I am utterly unable to approach anything like my own competence. My last physician informed me that it might be very helpful if I were to be examined and perhaps treated psychiatrically or even by a psychoanalyst. Toward the end of my service I avoided out of pride any mental examinations, hoping that time would balance a mind which I had every reason to suppose was seriously affected. I cannot account for nor rise above long periods of moroseness and suicidal inclinations, and have newly come to realize that I must first triumph above this before I can hope to rehabilitate myself at all.

I cannot leave school or what little work I am doing for hospitalization due to many obligations, but I feel I might be treated outside, possibly with success. I cannot, myself, afford such treatment. 
Would you please help me?

Sincerely, L. Ron Hubbard[9]

To its credit, the VA responded to this dramatic cry for help with commendable speed and arrangements were made for Hubbard to attend Birmingham VA Hospital in Van Nuys for another examination. By this time, his medical records were hopelessly confused as he had given so many different versions of his service career, his injuries and ailments. He took the opportunity of this consultation to add another injury to the record, claiming that he had fallen from a ladder on a ship called the USS Pennant in 1942, injuring his back, hip, left knee and right heel.

While he was waiting for the results to come through, Ron was greatly discomforted to receive a demand from the VA for $51 which he had been overpaid in subsistence - he had dropped out of college on 14 November, claiming he was too ill to continue studying, but had collected subsistence until the end of the month.

'I cannot imagine how to repay this $51', he whined in a letter to the VA dated 27 January 1948, 'as I am nearly penniless and have but $28.50 to last me for nearly a month to come. Since leaving school in mid-November I have made $115 from various sources - about $40 from the sale of two bits to magazines in late November and the repayment of a bad debt for $75. These comprise my income to date except for the sale of a typewriter tonight for the above $28.50. My expenditures consist of $27 a month trailer rent and $80 a month loud for my wife and self, which includes gas, cigarettes and all incidentals. I am very much in debt and have not been able to get a job but am trying to resume my pre-war profession of professional writing. My health has been bad and I feel that if I could just get caught up financially I could write a novel which has been requested of me and so remedy my finances. It would take me three months and even then I would not be able to guarantee solvency. Is there any provision in the Veteran's Administration for grants or loans or financing so that I could get back on my feet?'

Nothing came of this hopeful inquiry. A few days later the results of Ron's medical examination arrived, but offered little encouragement that he would he awarded a higher pension. As before, nothing too serious was diagnosed, other than arthritis and myositis, an inflammation of the muscle tissue. There was not even, any longer, any evidence of a duodenal ulcer and no evidence at all of the injuries he said he had sustained when he fell from a ladder.

However, bureaucracy works in strange and unfathomable ways. Despite the findings of his most recent medical, Ron's bewildering portfolio of infirmities and his dogged determination to be disabled finally paid off. On 27 February he received a letter from the VA regional office with the good news that his combined disability rating had been re-assessed at forty per cent and his pension increased to $55.20 a month.[10] With that, Lieutenant Hubbard USNR had to be satisfied.

Forrest Ackerman, who had noticeably not been getting rich from his ten per cent of Ron's earnings, nevertheless remained on good terms with his client. When Ron came bounding up the stairs to his apartment one afternoon, sweat trickling from under the band of his white straw hat, and said he needed money to get out of town because his ex-wife was after him for alimony, Forrie good-naturedly handed over everything he had in his wallet - $30. 'It was a small fortune to me then,' he recalled.

For some time, Forrie had been trying to persuade Ron to make an appearance at one of the meetings of the Los Angeles Fantasy and Science Fiction Society, of which he was naturally a founding member. The meetings were held every Thursday evening in the basement room of a small hotel on South Bixel Street in downtown Los Angeles and were often attended by writers with an eye to future sales.

Ron first turned up at a 'Lasfas' meeting on 15 April and, as a distinguished guest, was invited to address the members. He gave an impromptu, entertaining little talk about himself and his work, mentioning his 'shame' that he was only able to write about five thousand words a day and touching briefly on his philosophical opus, Excalibur, which he had locked in a bank vault when he 'finally realized how dangerous it was'.

'The real surprise of the evening', the club magazine reported, 'came when Hubbard was talking about his friend, Arthur J. Burks. Someone mentioned Burks's story, "Survival", which had been judged one of the best of 1938 when it appeared that year in Marvel Tales. "Survival?" questioned Hubbard. "I don't remember reading that one. What was it about?" It concerned an invasion of America by the "yellow men of the East", he was told. "What?" said Hubbard. "And how did they escape the peril?" By burrowing under the ground, he was told. Mr Hubbard was surprised at this. In fact, he said, "Good God! That dog! Wait till I get hold of Burks . . ." He explained the outburst: "Back in '38 I wrote a movie treatment of a story called 'Survival'. It concerned an invasion of America by the yellow men of the East. They escaped by burrowing under the ground! I gave that story and four others to an agent to sell. He lost them. And now I find that Burks has written and sold a story just like it!"'[11]

Among the fans present that evening was a young teletype operator by the name of Arthur Jean Cox. He admitted to mixed feelings about meeting the famous Ron Hubbard for the first time: 'He was an amusing, lively, animated, dynamic man who dominated the conversation, although I had the feeling that he told more lies in the club room in the first half hour than had been told there in the previous month. He talked a lot about his past - I heard the story about the polar bear jumping on his boat dozens of times - but I thought it was all fantasy.

'At that time he was one of the most famous science fiction writers in America, certainly in the top ten. Most of the members of the club were very young and in awe of him, but I didn't like him. His face was pock-marked, as if he'd had smallpox as a child, and I thought he looked like a wolf; he was a very predatory sort of man.'[12]

Hubbard returned to the Los Angeles science fiction society two weeks later to give a talk about immortality and the future of medical science. He had become interested in medical matters, he explained to a mainly spellbound audience, after he had 'died' for eight minutes as a result of wounds received in the war. He was brought back to life 'by the use of several emergency measures'. While convalescing he had plenty of time to satisfy his natural curiosity and he had become convinced that bio-chemists were capable of lengthening life to the point of 'limited immortality'. Joseph Stalin was only being kept alive, he claimed somewhat obscurely, because of a particular serum that had been developed by the Russians.

Afterwards, Ron demonstrated a surprising talent as a hypnotist with a repertoire of parlour tricks. He hypnotised almost everyone in the clubroom: one young man looked at his hand with utter astonishment, convinced he was holding a pair of miniature kangaroos in his palm; another rapidly removed his shoes when he felt the floor getting hot and a third spent a hysterically funny ten minutes on an imaginary telephone trying to fend off a persistent and non-existent car salesman.

It was probable that Hubbard had learned hypnosis from Jack Parsons and he appeared to have no difficulty inducing hypnotic trances - all he needed to do, with some people, was count to three and snap his fingers. But he sometimes forgot to bring a subject out of hypnosis. He told Cox's younger brother, Bill, that he would fall asleep every time he (Hubbard) scratched his nose. Under hypnosis, Bill dutifully obeyed. But later in the evening Hubbard absent-mindedly scratched his nose while he was standing in the centre of a group of fans and Bill Cox instantly collapsed, fortunately falling into the arms of Forrest Ackerman, who was standing behind him.

Hubbard also played a cruel, post-hypnotic trick on Bill Cox. He took him to one side at the meeting and told him that the following afternoon, at two o'clock, he would drop whatever he was doing and meet Hubbard at a building site on the corner of Wilshire and Lucas. Hubbard was waiting there next day when, at precisely two o'clock, Cox showed up. Under Hubbard's instructions, Cox first found he could not take his hands of his pockets. Then he was ordered to take hold of a nearby railing and discovered he could not let go. As he struggled to release his grip, Hubbard told him the rail would get hotter and hotter until it was red hot. Considerably distressed, Cox writhed in agony until at last Hubbard laughed, patted him on the shoulder, told him he could go home and that he would not remember anything that had happened.

This incident only later came to light because a fellow science fiction writer, A.E. van Vogt, shared Hubbard's interest in hypnotism. One night at a Lasfas meeting, someone described a particularly vivid dream and Hubbard immediately claimed responsibility for it, saying it was a hallucination he had caused while he was 'out strolling in Astral form'.

Van Vogt did not necessarily disbelieve Hubbard but thought it was more likely that he had induced the dream by post-hypnotic suggestion. With the help of a professional hypnotist friend, he decided to check if any members of the club had been hypnotized by Hubbard without being able to remember it. They started with Bill Cox, put him in a deep trance and quickly learned of the ordeal that Hubbard had put him through. Although van Vogt gravely disapproved, he continued, curiously, to hold Hubbard in the highest esteem.

In the world of science fiction, A.E. van Vogt was considered to be in the very top rank of writers and it was Hubbard who requested that they should meet at the end of the war. Van was invited to dinner with Hubbard at Jack Parsons's house in Pasadena and was instantly dazzled by the force of his personality; like everyone else around Hubbard, he rapidly found himself in a vaguely supplicant position. Very soon he would be running around at Hubbard's beck and call.

'When we were first introduced, a hand of steel grabbed mine and squeezed it so hard that I braced myself. He was physically very strong and in fine physical condition. He had been in command of a gunboat in the Pacific. Once he sailed right into the harbour of a Japanese occupied island in the Dutch East Indies. His attitude was that if you took your flag down the Japanese would not know one boat from another, so he tied up at the dock, went ashore and wandered around by himself for three days. Everyone else was scared except Hubbard; he was a brave man, no question about it.

'I knew his work as a writer, of course, and enjoyed it. He wrote about a million words a year, straight on to the typewriter at incredible speed. My guess was that he typed at about seventy words a minute. It just poured out - I have seen typists working at that speed, but never a writer. I was in his apartment a couple of times when he said he had to finish a story and he would sit typing steadily for twenty minutes without a break and without looking up. That would have been totally impossible for me.

'When he was out in the evenings, he would begin to think of a plot for a story and throw ideas around, asking people around the table what they thought of this or that. By the end of the evening he would have it worked out in his mind and when he got home he would spend the night writing, tearing the pages out of the typewriter and throwing them all over the floor. Sara told me it was her job when she got up in the morning to collect the pages and put them in order. He left a note to tell her where to send it and he never looked at it again.

'He never told me where he learned hypnotism, but he was certainly a great hypnotist. There were certain people he could hypnotize instantly. He would talk to them for a few moments, take their mind in a certain direction, then just say "Sleep!"'[13]

Hubbard's efforts to use his facility in a more constructive fashion at the science fiction society were somewhat less successful. He once hypnotized a member who was taking a college examination the following day and ordered him to get straight A's, without that happy result. Another attempt to help someone who felt he had a 'block' about spelling similarly failed. By the time a fan approached Ron to ask if hypnosis could help with his emotional problems, Ron could only lamely suggest he tried reading Dale Carnegie's How to Make Friends and Influence People.

That summer, 1948, Hubbard ran into a spot of bother with the law. A trifling misunderstanding over a cheque led to the embarrassment of his being arrested by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff, fingerprinted and charged with petty theft. He was released on bail of $500 while the Sheriff's Forgery Detail investigated the circumstances of the offence. On 19 August 1948 he was arraigned at San Gabriel Township Justice Court where he entered a plea of not guilty and waived trial by jury. However, by the time the trial date came around on 31 August, Hubbard changed his plea to guilty and was fined $25. Remarkably, he did not need time to pay.[14]

Ron never mentioned the incident to his friends and the court files were destroyed in 1955, so it will never be known precisely what he had done wrong. He was also fortunate that none of the local newspaper reporters was a science-fiction fan and so no one realized that the L.R. Hubbard charged with petty theft at San Luis Obispo was a famous sci-fi writer.

Shortly afterwards, Ron and Sara left California for Savannah, Georgia, where, Ron would claim later, he embarked upon another important stage of his pioneering research into the unexplored recesses of the human mind.

Within a couple of years it would become imperative for L. Ron Hubbard to play down his career as a pulp writer and establish for himself a rather more sober reputation as a scientist, philosopher and guru. Lesser men might have hesitated to undertake such a radical metamorphosis, but not Ron Hubbard, who effortlessly contrived to make it appear as if his whole life had been dedicated to unravelling the mysteries of the psyche.

The story of his childhood in the 'wilds of Montana' and his adoption as a blood brother of an Indian tribe presented a picture of a boy unusually in tune with nature and primitive cultures. His tutelage by a 'personal student' of Freud, his 'wanderings' in the mystic East and his expeditions as an explorer all suggested an upbringing and career of extraordinary dimensions, constantly directed towards a quest for deeper understanding of life's mysteries. Writing science fiction was downgraded to no more than a convenient device designed to finance his 'research'.

During the 'year' he had spent in Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, Ron would claim he had had the run of the medical library and access to the medical records of former prisoners of war. He began experimental psycho-analysis on ex POWs, 'using a park bench as a consulting room', and his research continued ever more intensively through the post-war years. In Savannah, he said, he worked as a volunteer lay practitioner in a psychiatric clinic, helping charity patients no one else would treat.

There was, perhaps, no reason why anyone should question the veracity of Hubbard's research, but his friends must have been puzzled that they knew nothing of it. Mac Ford, for example, who had spent so much time with Ron in the late '30s, sailing on Puget Sound and often talking through the night over a bottle of whisky, had never realized that his friend was engaged in research of any kind. In the heated and wide-ranging discussions that took place in the kitchen of Jack Parsons's house in Pasadena, the ideal forum for Hubbard to talk about his theories, he had said not a word about them. Alva Rogers had frequently heard him tapping away at a typewriter in his room, but there was nothing to indicate he was writing anything but fiction. Not even the amiable Forrest Ackerman had any idea that Ron was about to abandon science fiction in favour of philosophy, although in January 1949 he received an amusing letter from his client hinting at the possibility.

Addressing Ackerman, as always, as '4E', Ron wrote from Savannah to say that he had set up an office in the apartment building where he was living on Drayton Street. It was a very nice place, he said, and could easily become a den of vice, 'so I only allow women over 16 in there'. He had acquired a dictaphone machine which Sara was 'beating out her wits on' transcribing not only fiction but his book on the 'cause and cure of nervous tension', which he was going to call either The Dark Sword or Excalibur or Science of the Mind. He was writing so much fiction, Sara was having to work on the manuscript in fits. 'So far, however,' he wisecracked, 'she has recovered easily from each fit.'

If Ackerman did not take the letter too seriously he could hardly be blamed, for its tone was largely facetious throughout. Ron promised that among the 'handy household hints' contained in the book was information on how, to 'rape women without their knowing it, communicate suicide messages to your enemies as they sleep, sell the Arroyo Seco parkway to the mayor for cash, and evolve the best way of protecting or destroying communism'. He had not decided, he added casually, whether to destroy the Catholic Church or 'merely start a new one'.

Although he continued in similar vein, suggesting promotion gimmicks like requiring readers to sign a release absolving the author of any responsibility if they went crazy, it was clear that he expected the book to he a success: 'Thought of some interesting publicity angles on it. Might post a ten thousand dollar bond to he paid to anyone who can attain equal results with any known field of knowledge. A reprint of the preface, however, is about all one needs to bring in orders like a snow storm. This has more selling and publicity angles than any book of which I have ever heard . . .'

(Publicity angles notwithstanding, he could not have been too confident of the book's success, because shortly after writing to Forrie he wrote to the Bureau of Naval Personnel asking for a transcript of his sea service in order to apply for a licence in the merchant marine. He asked for the request to be dealt with quickly as he had a 'waiting berth'.[15])

The first sci-fi fans knew of L. Ron Hubbard's intention to write a philosophic treatise was an interview with him that appeared in the January 1949 issue of a magazine called Writers' Markets and Methods, during which he mentioned that he was working on a 'book of psychology'. But he added that he was also working on a rewrite of a Broadway play, no less than ten novels and a serial for Street and Smith.

This was the conundrum. In 1949, the year in which Hubbard's 'research' was presumably approaching fruition, he once again began writing fiction at a prolific rate: 'Gun Boss of Tumbleweed' and 'Blood on his Spurs' for Thrilling Westerns, 'Gunman' and 'Johnny the Town Tamer' for Famous Westerns, 'Plague' and 'The Automagic Horse' for Astounding, 'Beyond the Black Nebula' and 'the Emperor of the Universe' for Startling Stories, and many more.

Not a month passed in 1949 without the name of L. Ron Hubbard appearing on the cover of one of the pulp magazines. Nevertheless, rumours began to circulate among science-fiction fans in the summer of 1949 that Ron Hubbard was also writing a book about philosophy and was intending to unveil an entire new 'science of the mind'. What was most surprising to the fans was that Hubbard had found the time to produce such a science, for it had long been expected by science fiction devotees that one of their number would eventually come up with some world-shaking discovery. Many of the technological developments of the previous twenty years, including the atom bomb, had been predicted with uncanny accuracy by science-fiction writers and to the fans it was entirely logical that science fiction should give birth to an important new science.

The rumours were fuelled by the fact that no one had seen Hubbard for months - he had not attended any of the recent gatherings of the Los Angeles science fiction society, neither had he made an appearance in any of the magazine offices in New York. It was said he was holed up somewhere in New Jersey and that John W. Campbell was somehow involved in his plans. But no one knew exactly where Hubbard was or precisely what he was doing or what the new 'science' might entail, although everyone was agreed that Hubbard was on to 'something big', whatever it was.

The first tantalizing details were revealed in an editorial in the December issue of Astounding Science Fiction. With an implicit sense of history in the making, Campbell announced that an article was in preparation about a new science called Dianetics. 'Its power is almost unbelievable; it proves the mind not only can but does rule the body completely; following the sharply defined basic laws set forth, physical ills such as ulcers, asthma and arthritis can be cured, as can all other psychosomatic ills . . .' On the facing page, by a curious coincidence, there was a story titled 'A Can of Vacuum' by L. Ron Hubbard, about a practical joke which results in remarkable scientific discoveries.

By January 1950, the rumours had reached the ears of Walter Winchell, the syndicated columnist on the New York Daily Mirror. 'There is something new coming up in April called Dianetics,' he wrote in his column on 31 January. 'A new science which works with the invariability of physical science in the field of the human mind. From all indications it will prove to be as revolutionary for humanity as the first caveman's discovery and utilization of fire.'

In the April issue of Astounding, Campbell announced that the long-awaited article was at last ready for publication: 'Next month's issue will, I believe, cause one full-scale explosion across the country. We are carrying a 16,000 word article entitled "Dianetics - An Introduction to a New Science", by L. Ron Hubbard. It will, I believe, be the first publication of the material. It is, I assure you in full and absolute sincerity, one of the must important articles ever published. In this article, reporting on Hubbard's own research into the engineering question of how the human mind operates, immensely important basic discoveries are related. Among them:

'A technique of psychotherapy has been developed which will cure any insanity not due to organic destruction of the brain.

'A technique that gives any man a perfect, indelible, total memory, and perfect, errorless ability to compute his problems.

'A basic answer, and a technique for curing - not alleviating - ulcers, arthritis, asthma, and many other nongerm diseases.

'A totally new conception of the truly incredible ability and power of the human mind.

'Evidence that insanity is contagious, and is not hereditary.

'This is no wild theory. It is not mysticism. It is a coldly precise engineering description of how the human mind operates, and how to go about restoring correct operation tested and used on some 250 cases. And it makes only one overall claim: the methods logically developed from that description work. The memory stimulation technique is so powerful that, within 30 minutes of entering therapy, must people will recall in full detail their own birth. I have observed it in action, and used the techniques myself . . .

'It is not only a fact article of the highest importance; it is the story of the ultimate adventure - an exploration in the strangest of all terra incognita; the human mind. No stranger adventure appeared in The Arabian Nights than Hubbard's experience, using his new techniques, in plowing through the strange jungle of distorted thoughts within a human mind. To find, beyond that zone of madness, a computing mechanism of ultimate and incredible efficiency and perfection!'

Rarely can any editor have penned such a fulsome and glowing testimonial. The world, or at least the world of science fiction, waited with bated breath.

1. Report of Physical Examination, VA file, 19 September 1946

2. Transcript - Church of Scientology v. Armstrong

3.  Hubbard file, VA archives 
4. Interview with Merwin, Los Angeles, August 1986 
5. The John W. Campbell Letters, Vol. 1 

6. Interview with Mrs Roberts 
7. Interview with Ford  

8.Interview with Forrest Ackerman, Hollywood, 30 July 1986

9. Hubbard file, VA archives

10. ibid. 

11. Shangri-La, LASFAS club organ, No. 6, May-June 1948 
12. Interview with Arthur Jean Cox, Los Angeles, 18 August 1986

13. Interview with A.E. van Vogt, Los Angeles, 22 July 1986 
14. FBI memo, 13 April 1967

15. L.R. Hubbard navy record

Bear Faced Messiah - Chapter 9 The Strange Début of Dianetics

The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard is a posthumous biography of Scientology founder
L. Ron Hubbard by British journalist Russell Miller. Originally published: 26 October1987 Author: Russell Miller, Genre: Biography, Page count: 380, Publisher: Michael Joseph, Subject: L. Ron Hubbard

Dianetics makes its inauspicious début, in the pages of a pulp science fiction magazine.

'My vanity hopes that you will secure credit to me for eleven years of unpaid research, but my humanity hopes above that that this science will be used as intelligently and extensively as possible, for it is a science and it does produce exact results uniformly and can, I think, be of benefit.' (Letter from L.R. Hubbard to Dr Joseph Winter, August 1949)

(Scientology's account of the years 1949-50.)

In the spring of 1949, Ron and Sara had moved to the New Jersey shore, to a beach cottage at Bay Head, a discreetly genteel yachting resort on the northern tip of Barnegat Bay. Rich New Yorkers who could not quite afford the Hamptons kept large summer houses at Bay Head where they sailed the ruffled blue waters of the bay, played tennis and attended each other's cocktail parties. The Hubbards' rented cottage was one of the smallest properties, but Sara, who suspected she was pregnant, was delighted with it. She was weary of their peripatetic lifestyle; she calculated that in only three years of marriage they had set up home in seven different States and had never stayed in one place for more than a few months. Bay Head, with its country club aura, did much to lift her spirits.

John Campbell had persuaded them to move from Georgia and had found them the cottage which was less than a hour's drive on the Garden State Parkway from Plainfield, where he and his wife lived. He wanted Ron close by because he wanted, passionately wanted, to be involved in what he considered to be the historic genesis of Dianetics.

It was predictable, in the course of their working relationship as science-fiction editor and science-fiction writer, that Campbell and Hubbard would spend time together discussing ideas and that Ron would test his theories on a man as responsive as the editor of Astounding. Campbell was an intellectual maverick: he had studied physics and chemistry at college, had a mechanistic approach to psychology and was fascinated by gimmicks and technology, but he also flirted with psychic phenomena like dowsing, telekinesis, telepathy and clairvoyance. Ron could not have had a more attentive audience when he first began to propound his theory that the brain worked like a computer which could be made markedly more efficient by clearing its clogged memory bank.

Always a persuasive talker, Hubbard possessed a natural ability to marshal a smattering of knowledge into a cogent and authoritative thesis, interwoven with scientific and medical jargon. His 'scientific' approach to unravelling the mysteries of the human psyche precisely accorded with Campbell's own view that humanity could be investigated with the techniques and impersonal methodology of the exact sciences,[1] and although Ron's ideas stemmed more from his exuberant imagination than from any research, to Campbell what Hubbard had to say was tantamount to a revelation on the road to Damascus.

He compared individual memory to a 'time-track' on which every experience was recorded. Using a form of hypnosis, he believed painful experiences could be recalled and 'erased' with consequent beneficial effects to both physical and mental health. Ron offered to demonstrate on a convenient couch at Campbell's home in Plainfield. He drew the blinds, told Campbell to relax, close his eyes on a count to seven and try to recall his earliest childhood experience. Gently prompted by Ron to produce more and more details, Campbell was surprised to find he could resurrect long-forgotten incidents with such clarity that it was as if he had physically returned to the time and place. After a couple of sessions, he seemed to be able to go back far enough to actually re-live the astonishing experience of his birth and at the same time he discovered that the chronic sinusitis that had plagued him all his life was much improved.

Thereafter, Campbell was the first committed disciple of Dianetics, utterly convinced that L. Ron Hubbard had made profound discoveries about the workings of the mind and that the fundamental nature of human life was about to be changed for the better. [Hubbard himself was perhaps as concerned to make money as he was to help humanity and he had some interesting ideas about how to do it. Around this time he was invited to address a science-fiction group in Newark hosted by the writer, Sam Moskowitz. 'Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous,' he told the meeting. 'If a man really wanted to make a million dollars, the best way to do it would be to start his own religion.'[2]]

Determined to help Ron propagate his new 'science', in July 1949 Campbell wrote to Dr Joseph Winter, a general practitioner from St Joseph, Michigan, who had contributed occasional articles on medical subjects to Astounding: 'L. Ron Hubbard, who happens to be an author, has been doing some psychological research . . . He's gotten important results. His approach is, actually, based on some very early work of Freud's, some work of other men, and a lot of original research. He's not a professional psychoanalyst or psychiatrist, he's basically an engineer. He approached the problem of psychiatry from the heuristic viewpoint - to get results.'

Campbell described the case of an amputee veteran suffering from severe depression who had been helped by Hubbard after conventional psychiatry had failed to alleviate his condition. Psychiatrists had injected sodium pentothal to enable the veteran to re-live his war experience, taking him through the moment he was hit by a mortar shell to the moment he recovered consciousness in the aid station, but he continued to be depressed and insist he would be better off dead. Using Dianetics, Hubbard had also taken the veteran back through the shell burst but discovered that while he was unconscious medics had said, 'This guy's hopeless, he's better off dead anyway' and chosen to move other casualties first. This incident, it transpired, was the cause of his problems.

Winter was intrigued: he had never considered before that an unconscious patient could in any way be aware of what was going on around him. He wrote to Campbell asking for more information and back came another long letter elaborating on the theory and concluding: 'With cooperation from some institutions, some psychiatrists, he [Hubbard] has worked on all types of cases. Institutionalized schizophrenics, apathies, manics, depressives, perverts, stuttering, neuroses - in all, nearly 1000 cases. But just a brief sampling of each type; he doesn't have proper statistics in the usual sense. But he has one statistic. He has cured every patient he worked with. He has cured ulcers, arthritis, asthma.'

While Winter was avowedly incredulous at the idea that a man with no medical training of any kind was able to cure one hundred per cent of his patients, he did not share the tendency of his medical colleagues to dismiss all lay practitioners as dangerous cranks. He had always been fascinated by the enigmas of human behaviour and believed in a holistic approach to medicine which was amenable to unconventional hypotheses. He contacted Hubbard, suggested that he present his findings to the medical profession, and offered to help.

Hubbard quickly replied, promising to forward an 'operator's manual' for Winter's use and thanking him for his interest. When his manual arrived, Winter made several copies and gave them to psychiatrist friends in Chicago, but was disappointed by their negative reactions. They were interested in the ingenuity of Hubbard's ideas, but strongly sceptical of their efficacy. However, Winter still felt the subject was worth pursuing and made arrangements to visit Bay Head to observe Dianetics 'in action'. Ron, who was acutely aware  of the potential value of recruiting a doctor to the Dianetic cause, invited Winter to stay with him and Sara at the cottage on the beach.

He arrived in Bay Head on 1 October 1949, and Sara, now several months into her pregnancy, did her best to make the young doctor welcome, despite somewhat cramped conditions. Winter discovered that Hubbard was spending much of his time testing his theories by 'running' science-fiction fans brought in by Campbell. The purpose of 'running' a patient, Hubbard explained, was to send them 'down the time-track' to uncover their 'impediments'.

Winter sat in on several sessions, then agreed to Ron's suggestion that he should be 'run' himself. 'The experience was intriguing,' he said. 'I felt, in general, that I was obtaining some benefits from Hubbard's methods of therapy. I was also aware of the possible inaccuracies of a subjective evaluation of my own progress: I therefore endeavoured to make up for this by observing the other patients closely. It was possible during this short period of observation to note only the differences in their behaviour before and after each therapy session. The changes were obvious: before a session I would see agitation, depression and irritability; after a session the patient would be cheerful and relaxed.'[3]

Although he had some reservations, particularly about Hubbard's absolutism and inclination to make sweeping generalizations, he was unquestionably impressed. He noted the emotional discharge that resulted when patients recalled painful experiences; he himself re-lived the terror he had felt as a child on learning of his grandmother's death and found it dissolving in a fit of sobbing and weeping, after which he felt a great sense of relief.

Winter did not return to Michigan until Thanksgiving, when an incident occurred which finally convinced him of the validity of Dianetics. He arrived home to discover that his six-year-old son was having problems: the boy had developed a paralyzing fear of the dark and of ghosts, which he believed were waiting upstairs to strangle him. Winter recalled that his wife had experienced considerable difficulties during the boy's birth and decided to apply Dianetic techniques to see if there was any connection. He was flabbergasted by the result.

The doctor persuaded his son to lie down, close his eyes and try to recall the first time he had ever seen a ghost. To Winter's amazement the boy described in detail the white apron, cap and mask of the obstetrician who had delivered him and how he felt he was being strangled. Winter and his wife discussed what had happened and concluded with certainty that the only time their son had seen that doctor in his surgical gown was at the moment of his birth. It was evident to them that the boy's fear was connected with his struggle to be born and his phobia soon disappeared.

Believing himself to be at the possible dawn of a 'Golden Age of greater sanity', Winter returned to Bay Head after the holiday enormously optimistic about the prospects for Dianetics. 'I immediately became immersed in a life of Dianetics and very little else,' he recorded. Hubbard and Campbell were deeply involved in the projected article for Astounding and Winter began work on the preparation of a paper explaining the principles and methodology of Dianetic therapy, intended for presentation to the medical profession. Ron, who made no secret of his contempt for the medical establishment (often to the considerable embarrassment of Dr Winter), was not in the least surprised by the reception it received: the Journal of the American Medical Association and the American Journal of Psychiatry both rejected the paper for publication on the grounds of insufficient clinical evidence of the technique's effectiveness.

Undeterred, the three men continued developing and refining Dianetic theory, slowly bringing into their orbit other converts, notably a young electrical engineer by the name of Don Rogers and Art Ceppos, head of Hermitage House, a small medical and psychiatric textbook publisher who had contracted, at Campbell's instigation, to publish a book about Dianetics. The 'Bay Head Circle', as it came to be known, devoted many hours to discussion of terminology. Ron was still using the word 'impediment' to describe painful past experiences, although they all agreed that a new word was needed to avoid confusion. For a while, impediment was replaced by 'norn', the name of the Norse goddesses said to control Man's destiny, but in the end they plumped for 'engram', which was defined in Dorland's Medical Dictionary, as a 'lasting mark or trace'.

Meanwhile, Ron found time to dash off a feature about Dianetics for the Explorers Club journal, in which he explained that he had developed the therapy as a tool for expedition commanders to maintain the health and morale of their men. 'That it apparently conquers and cures all psychosomatic ills', he added with barely feigned modesty, 'and is of interest to institutions where it has a salutary effect upon the insane, is beyond the province of its original intention.' Untroubled, as always, by facts, Ron nonchalantly informed his fellow members that details of the science could be found, 'where it belonged', in textbooks and professional publications on the mind and body.[4]

[Credit for the inspiration for Dianetics would be variously and fancifully attributed over the years; at one point Hubbard claimed his interest in the mind had been stimulated while at university by comparing the rhythmic vibrations of poetry in English and Japanese, in which language he was, of course, fluent[5].]

Shortly before Christmas 1949, Hubbard finished the article for Astounding, but Campbell agreed to delay publication so that it would come out shortly before the book was available and help promote sales. Despite his lingering misgivings about the extravagance of Ron's claims, Winter agreed to write a foreword to the article, an endorsement which would greatly add to the credibility of Dianetics. 'I sincerely feel', he wrote, 'that Ron Hubbard has discovered the key which for the first time permits a true evaluation of the human mind and its function in health and in illness - the greatest advance in mental therapy since man began to probe into his mental make-up.'

In the midst of all this accelerating activity, of writing and revising, proof-reading, 'running patients' and answering the inquiries that were beginning to arrive as a result of the advance editorials in Astounding, Hubbard became a father for the third time. On 8 March, 1950, Sara gave birth to a daughter, Alexis Valerie, in the local hospital. Winter, conveniently on hand, supervised the delivery. When she cradled the baby in her arms for the first time, Sara registered with considerable pleasure that her daughter had flaming red hair.

By the beginning of April, Campbell's editorials had stimulated so much interest that it was decided to establish a Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation to disseminate knowledge of the new therapy and stimulate further research. The Foundation was incorporated in the unlovely environs of Elizabeth, New Jersey, a grimy industrial town on the shores of Newark Bay, opposite Staten Island. The board of directors was made up of Ron and Sara Hubbard, Campbell, Winter, Don Rogers, Art Ceppos and a lawyer by the name of Parker C. Morgan. Dr Winter, who had by then sold his practice in Michigan to devote himself full-time to Dianetics, accepted the post of medical director 'without qualms'.

The Foundation rented the top floor of an old office building on Morris Avenue and furnished it with second-hand sheet-metal desks, Navy surplus lecture-hall chairs and Army surplus cots. Ron and Sara rented a small frame house at 42 Aberdeen Road, Elizabeth, and moved in with the baby. Sara very much regretted leaving Bay Head and viewed Elizabeth with unconcealed distaste, but Ron persuaded her that it was vital for him to be on hand to direct the affairs of the Foundation.

Campbell's wife, Dona, was similarly suffering from her husband's obsession with Dianetics, so much so that she walked out of their marriage, declaring Dianetics to be the 'last straw'. Regular contributors to Astounding also began to express concern that the editor no longer seemed interested in anything but Ron Hubbard's wonderful new science and many of them failed to share his enthusiasm. Isaac Asimov read an advance copy of the Dianetics article and thought it was 'gibberish'[6] while Jack Williamson said he thought it was like a 'lunatic revision of Freudian psychology'.

But Campbell's ardour could not be cooled. In a letter to Williamson be said he had witnessed Ron restoring sanity to a 'raving psychotic' in thirty minutes and curing a Navy veteran of ulcers and arthritis. 'I know dianetics is one of, if not the greatest, discovery of all Man's written and unwritten history,' he added. 'It produces the sort of stability and sanity men have dreamed about for centuries.'[7]

The May 1950 issue of Astounding Science Fiction appeared on the streets in the third week of April. A hairy, ape-like alien with yellow cat's eyes glowered menacingly from the cover. Readers would discover that he was the evil Duke of Kraakahaym, special envoy from the Empire of Skontar to the Commonwealth of Sol, but everyone knew there was something much more diverting in the magazine that month - the long-awaited introduction to Dianetics, the first science ever to be launched in a pocketbook pulp magazine.

So startling were the tidings that Campbell felt obliged to emphasize that the author was entirely serious. 'I want to assure every reader, most positively and unequivocally,' he wrote, 'that this article is not a hoax, joke, or anything but a direct, clear statement of a totally new scientific thesis.'

Hubbard might have wished for a more venerable medium in which to launch his new science, but he could hardly have found a more receptive forum. Many science-fiction fans at that time had an engineering and science background and as far as they were concerned Hubbard's dissertation, filling more than forty pages and seemingly resulting from years of diligent research and study, was logical, enticing and thoroughly persuasive.

It was certainly very different from his previous writing. The customary narcissistic swaggering was notably absent and his usual racy prose was replaced by a sober, textbook style sometimes too worldly to be immediately comprehensible: 'When exterior determinism was entered into a human being so as to overbalance his self determinism the correctness of his solutions fell off rapidly.'

Hubbard's approach was that of an engineer seeking practical, scientific solutions to the mysteries of the human mind, constantly testing his postulates against a single, simple criterion: does it work? He began by drawing an analogy between the brain and a computer with an infinite memory bank and perfect function. Every human brain, he argued, had the potential to operate as this optimum computer, with untold benefits to the individual and to mankind, not least restoring sanity to the insane, curing all manner of illnesses and ending wars.

Constraints were presently imposed on the brain by 'aberrations', usually caused by physical or emotional pain. Since pain was a threat to survival, the basic principle of existence, the sane, analytical mind sought to avoid it. Evolution had provided the necessary mechanism by means of what he called the 'reactive mind'. In moments of stress, the 'analytical mind' shut down and the 'reactive mind' took over, storing information in cellular recordings, or 'engrams'.

He provided an example of how an engram was stored. If a child was bitten by a dog at the age of two, she might not remember the incident in later life but the engram could be stimulated by any number of sights or sounds, causing her inexplicable distress. It might be a similar noise to that of the car driving past when the dog attacked, the smell of a dog's fur, or the scrape of skin on concrete when she was knocked to the ground.

The purpose of Dianetic therapy, he explained, was to gain access to the engrams in the reactive memory banks and 're-file' them in the analytical mind, where their influence would be eradicated. To 'unlock' the reactive memory bank it was necessary to locate the earliest engrams, which he claimed were often pre-natal, sometimes occurring within twenty-four hours of conception! A foetus might not understand words spoken while it was in the womb, he asserted, but it would be able to recall them in later life.

Having cleared the reactive mind, the analytical mind would then function, like the optimum computer, at full efficiency - the individual's IQ would rise dramatically, he would be freed of all psychological and psychosomatic illnesses and his memory would improve to the point of total recall.

Dianetics was easy to apply, he asserted, once the axioms and mechanisms had been learned, and he envisaged the science being practised by 'people of intelligence and good drive' on their friends and families. 'To date, over two hundred patients have been treated,' he claimed; 'of those two hundred, two hundred cures have been obtained.'

It was certainly an alluring prospect - a simple science available to ordinary people that invariably succeeded and claimed amazing results. But Hubbard knew better than to reveal, in a twenty-five-cent magazine, how to practise his wonderful new science; readers were specifically warned that the article would not contain sufficient information for them to become Dianetic operators. All the techniques would be explained, they were told, in a forthcoming book soon to be published by Hermitage House, price $4.00.

On 9 May 1950, Dianetics, The Modern Science of Mental Health by L. Ron Hubbard appeared without fanfare in bookstores across the

nation. Hermitage House was not optimistic that it would be a big seller and set the initial print run at a modest six thousand copies.

The book, dedicated to Will Durant, esteemed author of The Story of Philosophy, displayed none of the restraint evident in the Astounding article. Indeed, Hubbard introduced his new science with breathtaking magniloquence. 'The creation of Dianetics', he declared in the opening sentences of the book, 'is a milestone for Man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his inventions of the wheel and the arch . . . The hidden source of all psychosomatic ills and human aberration has been discovered and skills have been developed for their invariable cure.'

Significant among the maladies Hubbard claimed he could cure were the complaints that had figured so prominently in his Veterans Administration file: arthritis, eye trouble, bursitis and ulcers. He also added to the list the most intractable ailment known to medical science - the common cold.

Optimism and confidence in the ability of Dianetics to deal with almost all human problems were the abiding themes of the book. Hubbard's seductive message was simple - a dramatic breakthrough had occurred in psychotherapy. The techniques were easy to learn, were available to everyone and, most important of all, always worked!

The first challenge of Dianetics was to get through the book, for the text was abstruse, rambling, repetitive, studded with confusing neologisms and littered with interminable footnotes, which Hubbard seemed to think added academic verisimilitude. Fellow science-fiction writer L. Sprague de Camp frankly admitted he found the book incomprehensible and quoted W.S. Gilbert to explain why a fiction writer who was fluent, literate and readable should produce such impenetrable non-fiction:

'If this young man expresses himself in terms too deep for me
Why, what a very singularly deep young man this deep young man must be!'[8]

Hubbard's anxiety to invest his work with intellectual authority should have deterred him from laying bare his own fierce prejudices, but he could not be restrained. The book exposed a deep-rooted hatred of women, exemplified by a prurient pre-occupation with 'attempted abortions', which he claimed were the most common cause of pre-natal engrams. 'A large proportion of allegedly feeble-minded children', he wrote, 'are actually attempted abortion cases . . . However many billions America spends yearly on institutions for the insane and jails for the criminals are spent primarily because of attempted abortions done by some sex-blocked mother to whom children are a curse, not a blessing of God . . . All these things are scientific facts, tested and rechecked and tested again.'

When the women in Hubbard's 'case histories' were not thrusting knitting needles into themselves, they were usually being unfaithful to their husbands, or they were being beaten up, raped or otherwise abused. Almost without exception, they allowed the wretched embryos in their wombs to be grievously mistreated. 'Fathers, for instance, suspicious of paternity, sometimes claim while trouncing or upsetting mothers that they will kill the child if it isn't like Father. This is a very bad engram . . . it may compel an aberee into a profession he does not admire and all out of the engramic command that he must be like the parent. The same engram, he added mysteriously, could also cause premature baldness or lengthen the child's nose.

Hubbard gave many illustrations of the problems caused by pre-natal engrams, some of which might have strained the credulity of even his most gullible readers. If a husband beat his pregnant wife, for example, yelling, 'Take that! Take it, I tell you. You've got to take it!', it was possible the child would interpret these words literally in later life and become a thief. Or a pregnant woman suffering from constipation might sit straining for a bowel movement muttering to herself, 'Oh, this is hell. I am all jammed up inside. I feel so stuffy I can't think. This is too terrible to be borne.' In this case, he explained, the child might easily develop an inferiority complex from a engram which suggested to him he was too terrible to be 'born'.

Some of the worst pre-natal engrams were caused by naming the child after the father. If the expectant mother was committing adultery, as so many of Hubbard's pregnant women were wont to do, she was likely to make derogatory remarks about her husband while engaged in sexual intercourse with her lover. The foetus, obviously, would be 'listening' and if he was given the husband's name he would assume in later life that all the horrible things his mother had said about his father were actually about him.

After women, Hubbard's secondary target was the medical profession, towards which he directed almost rabid hostility, accusing neurosurgeons of reducing their 'victims' to 'zombyism' either by burning away the brain with electric shocks or tearing it to pieces with a 'nice ice-pick into each eyeball'. 'In terms of brutality in treatment of the insane,' he wrote, 'the methods of the shaman or Bedlam have been exceeded by the "civilized" techniques of destroying nerve tissue with the violence of shock or surgery . . . destroying most of his personality and ambition and leaving him nothing more than a manageable animal.'

Indisputably the most portentous section of the book was that which explained to the reader how to put Dianetics into practice. Artfully employing the jargon of modern technology, Hubbard called the process 'auditing'. The practitioner was the 'auditor' and his patient was a 'pre-clear'. To become 'clear' of all engrams was the goal devoutly to be pursued for 'clears' were free from all neuroses and psychoses, had full control of their imaginations, greatly raised IQs and well-nigh perfect memories.

Auditing began in a darkened room by inducing in the pre-clear a condition Hubbard described as 'Dianetic reverie', which could apparently be recognized by a fluttering of the closed eyelids. It was not so much a hypnotic trance, he was careful to point out, as a state of relaxation conducive to travelling back along the time-track. Once the reverie had been induced, the auditor placed the pre-clear back in various periods of his life, moving inexorably towards birth or conception. Most pre-clears, Hubbard advised, would eventually experience a 'sperm dream' during which, as an egg, they would swim up a channel to meet the sperm. Once the earliest engram had been erased, later engrams would erase more easily.

An average auditing session should last about two hours and Hubbard estimated that a minimum of twenty hours' auditing would be needed before the pre-clear began to reap the rewards.

To a nation increasingly inclined to unload its problems on an expensive psychiatrist's couch, the promise of Dianetics was wondrous. It all seemed so eminently logical, pragmatic and alluring, as if human life was about to take on a new sparkle. With the book in one hand, what problems could not be solved? Here at last was a do-it-yourself therapy for the people that friends could offer to friends, husbands to wives, fathers to children. Any doubts were swept aside by the book's overweening absolutism: who would dare make such sweeping claims if they were not true?

Even the immoderate tenor of the author's attack on the medical profession struck many chords. Electric shock therapy and pre-frontal lobotomy were frightening and mysterious techniques disturbingly reminiscent of the experiments that had taken place in Nazi concentration camps, horrors only recently uncovered and still fresh in the mind. It was understandable that people wanted to believe in Dianetics, if for no other reason than to relegate such seemingly medieval practices to history.

For the first few days after publication of Dianetics, The Modern Science of Mental Health, it appeared as if the publisher's caution about the book's prospects had been entirely justified. Early indications were that it had aroused little interest; certainly it was ignored by most reviewers. But suddenly, towards the end of May, the line on the sales graph at the New York offices of Hermitage House took a steep upturn.

The first purchasers of Dianetics were mostly science-fiction fans and readers of Astounding. Primarily they wanted to see if Hubbard's new science really did work. Typical among them was Jack Horner, a psychology graduate at a college in Los Angeles: 'I had been a science-fiction fan since 1934 and I was fascinated by Campbell's editorials in Astounding. I ordered the book as soon as I heard about it. I got it on Monday, read it by Tuesday and was auditing on Wednesday. I sat down and audited five people and boy, it worked just like Hubbard said it would. I said to myself, "Gee, he may not have it all, but he's sure got a good piece of it."'[9]

A. E. van Vogt knew the book was coming out because Hubbard had been telephoning him every day from Elizabeth to try and get him interested in Dianetics. Van insisted he was a writer, not a therapist, and had no intention of reading Ron's book. But when an advance copy arrived in the mail he could not resist taking a look and he was piqued to discover how well Dianetic theory dovetailed with his own fiction. His most popular novel, Slan, had been about supermen evolving fantastic new powers of the mind very much in the way envisaged by Dianetics.

Van Vogt read Dianetics twice, then decided to experiment on his wife's sister, who was visiting them at the time. He began auditing her, following the instructions in the book, and to his utter astonishment found she was soon re-living the moment of her birth. She had been a breech baby and Van and his wife, Edna Mayne, watched in awe as she went through the motions of being born, screaming and yelling as she 'felt' the forceps pulling her out. Next day, Van invited Forrie Ackerman and his wife over.

'Van was the first in town to get Ron's book' said Ackerman. 'He told me that his 'phone was ringing off the hook all day. Everyone wanted to know if Dianetics was phoney or if there was really something in it.

'I was his second guinea pig. He asked me to lie on a couch and explained about the time-track. He said I could think of it as if I was in an elevator going down and stopping at floors equating to different years, or I could imagine I was on a train and watching signs with different dates flash by the window. I got the idea and lay there waiting for something to happen. Suddenly, on a sort of velvety background I saw two disembodied eyes, hard-boiled eyes like those of the actor, Peter Lorre. I said, "I see these popping eyes . . ."

'Van said to concentrate on that and keep repeating "popping eyes". I kept saying it and it gradually got abbreviated to "Popeyes", then "poppies". When I was in High School we memorized a poem about World War One: "In Flanders fields the poppies grow, by the crosses row on row . . ." I suddenly thought of the poppies growing row on row and in my mind I went right to the grave of my dear brother, Lorraine Ackerman, who didn't quite make it to twenty-one. When I learned he had been killed, I remember I just went round with an empty feeling. All those years later, the sorrow that I had been holding at bay came gushing out and I got it all out of my system. It was quite astonishing to me at the time and gave me the feeling there was certainly something to it.[10]

All over the country the same thing was happening: science-fiction fans were buying the book and auditing their friends, who then rushed out to buy the book so they could audit their friends. In this first flush of enthusiasm, Hubbard's insistence that Dianetics worked seemed indisputable: everyone could uncover an engram somewhere down their time-track and only the most churlish pre-clears would not admit to feeling uplifted after an auditing session. If auditing worked, it was perhaps not unreasonable to give credence to the whole science of Dianetics.

At the offices of Astounding Science Fiction in New York, more than two thousand letters had arrived in the fortnight following publication of the Dianetics article and mail continued to pour in by the sackload. Campbell, who liked statistics, calculated that only 0.2 per cent of the letters were unfavourable. At Hermitage House, Art Ceppos was frantically trying to arrange for more copies of the book to be printed and distributed; bookstore owners everywhere were complaining that they were running out of supplies. In Los Angeles, the demand was so great that Dianetics was only available on an under-the-counter basis.

In Elizabeth, New Jersey, the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation was inundated with inquiries when it was announced in June that L. Ron Hubbard would be teaching the first full-time training course for Dianetic auditors. Hopeful trainees travelled thousands of miles to New Jersey in the hope of getting a place on the course. Jack Horner was one of them. 'I got hold of Hubbard's telephone number and called him and said I wanted to take the course. He said, "It's awful crowded out here, but you're as welcome as the flowers in May." I had a friend with a Cadillac who was also interested and we drove non-stop across the country to get there in time.

'The course cost $500, which was an immense amount of money in those days, but it was worth every cent. There were about thirty-five to forty people on the course, all sorts, men and women. They were a well-educated, literate bunch and if there was a common factor among them it was probably an interest in science fiction.

'Ron lectured every day. He was very impressive, dedicated and amusing. The man had tremendous charisma; you just wanted to hear every word he had to say and listen for any pearl of wisdom. We never discussed where he had got all his knowledge. To me, the source of his data was irrelevant. I'd been in college studying recent discoveries in psychology and they were not worth a damn compared to what he had come up with and what it would do.

'I guess it would be true to say that the early 'fifties was the right moment to launch Dianetics. The atomic bomb had been dropped, there was a sense of hopelessness around and there was a great deal of fear about a nuclear war - people were building cabins out in the wilderness. McCarthyism was rife and our troops were fighting a war in Korea which seemed completely unreal to most of us. Then along comes Hubbard with the idea that if we could increase the overall sanity of man just a little bit, it would be a partial solution to the threat of nuclear war. It was no wonder that people wanted to listen to him.'

While Hubbard was lecturing in Elizabeth, Dianetics became, virtually overnight, a national 'craze' somewhat akin to the canasta marathons and pyramid clubs that had briefly flourished in the hysteria of post-war America. Dianetic groups sprang up everywhere, in every small town and every college; on the West Coast 'Dianetic parties' became the rage; in Hollywood, where neuroses and dollars lay thick on the ground, the movie colony joyfully embraced the idea of a therapy that did not involve all the tedious hours demanded by psychoanalysts. Everyone wanted to audit everyone else and right across the nation Americans were excitedly reliving their births, courtesy of the new guru, L. Ron Hubbard.

The media had so far largely chosen to ignore L. Ron Hubbard and his new science, but it was clear from the rising level of public interest that he could not be ignored forever. On 2 July, Dianetics, The Modern Science of Mental Health - now known to converts simply as 'The Book' - reached the top of the bestseller list in the Los Angeles Times, where it would remain for many months. On the same day the book received its first major review, in The New York Times. It was a predictable savaging by Rollo May, a noted psychologist and writer.

May could find no merit in Dianetics. It was, he said, an oversimplified form of regular psychotherapy mixed with hypnosis. He wondered if the author was not writing with his tongue in his cheek and searched in vain for scientific evidence to support the book's bizarre theories. 'Books like this do harm', May concluded, 'by their grandiose promises to troubled persons and by their oversimplification of human psychological problems.'

In Scientific American, a professor of physics at Columbia University declared the book contained less evidence per page than any publication since the invention of printing. 'The huge sale of the book to date is distressing evidence', wrote the professor, 'of the frustrated ambitions, hopes, ideals, anxieties and worries of the many persons who through it have sought succor.'[11] New Republic weighed in by describing the book as a 'bold and immodest mixture of complete nonsense and perfectly reasonable common sense, taken from long acknowledged findings and disguised and distorted by a crazy, newly invented terminology'.[12]

Following close on the heels of the media pundits came the outraged ranks of the medical profession. The American Psychological Association, pointing out that Hubbard's 'sweeping generalizations' were not supported by empirical evidence, called for Dianetics to be limited to scientific investigation 'in the public interest'.

'If it were not for sympathy for the mental suffering of disturbed people,' Dr Frederick Hacker, a Los Angeles psychiatrist declared, 'the so-called science of Dianetics could be dismissed for what it is - a clever scheme to dip into the pockets of the gullible with impunity. The Dianetic auditor is but another name for the witch doctor, exploiting a real need with phoney methods.'[13] Many medical experts sourly pointed out that there was nothing new in Dianetics and that Hubbard was simply applying new words to common phenomena long known and accepted in psychoanalysis. The 'engram' theory, they explained, was no more than a form of 'abreaction', the psychiatric term for releasing emotions associated with the suppressed memory of some past event.

In the face of such criticism, Dianeticists rose en masse to defend their founder and his ideas, bombarding the offending publications with indignant letters. Leading the protest was Frederick L. Schuman, a distinguished professor of political science from Williamstown, Massachusetts, who had visited Hubbard in New Jersey and been instantly converted. 'History has become a race between Dianetics and catastrophe,' he wrote to The New York Times. 'Dianetics will win if enough people are challenged, in time, to understand it.'[14]

The constant publicity spread the word as effectively as a nationwide advertizing campaign and the more the medical profession railed against Dianetics, the more people became convinced there must be something to it. Only two months after the publication of the book, Newsweek reported that more than fifty-five thousand copies had been sold and five hundred Dianetics groups had been set up across the United States.[15]

If the cause of all the fuss was in any way bewildered by his sudden change of circumstances, he was certainly not going to show it. In truth, Hubbard had certainly not anticipated that the book would ever be a bestseller, but he acted as if it was pre-ordained and slipped effortlessly into the role of luminary. He was, naturally, much in demand for interviews and he proved to be a natural interviewee providing reporters with a multitude of picturesque quotes about his colourful life and exhausting years of research 'in the laboratories of the world'.

He was unfailingly polite, amusing, ready to answer any question and always willing to pose for a photograph. He also contrived to provide every reporter with a tit-bit of new information. Parade magazine was able to reveal exclusively, for example, that 'the man behind the new mental health craze' was also 'the father of the world's first Dianetics baby'. Alexis Valerie Hubbard, Ron explained, had been carefully shielded in her pre-natal life from noise, bumps and parental conversations in order to protect her from engrams. The result, Ron happily announced, was that the baby was talking at three months, crawling at four months and was free from all phobias.[16]

'Since the overnight success of his book Dianetics,' the Los Angeles Daily News reported, 'Hubbard has become, in a few swift months, a personality, a national celebrity and the proprietor of the fastest growing "movement" in the United States.'[17]

1.  The Universe Makers, Donald Wollheim, 1971 
2. Los Angeles Times, 27 August 1978

3. A Doctor's Report on Dianetics, Joseph A. Winter, 1951

4. Explorers Journal, Winter/Spring 1950 
5. Hubbard's autographical notes, 1972

 6. Asimov, op. cit. 
7. Williamson, op. cit. 

8. Fantastic, August 1975

9. Interview with Jack Horner, Santa Monica, 24 July 1986

10. Interview with Ackerman

11. Scientific American, Jan 1951 
12. New Republic, 14 August 1950 
13. LOOK, 5 December 1950 
14. The New York Times, 6 August 1950 
15. Newsweek, No. 36, August 1950

16. Parade, 29 October 1950 
17. Los Angeles Daily News, 6 September 1950

1.  The Universe Makers, Donald Wollheim, 1971 
2. Los Angeles Times, 27 August 1978 

2.  A Doctor's Report on Dianetics, Joseph A. Winter, 1951 

4. Explorers Journal, Winter/Spring 1950 
5. Hubbard's autographical notes, 1972

Bare-Faced Messiah - Chapter 10 Commies, Kidnaps and Chaos

The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard is a posthumous biography of Scientology founder
L. Ron Hubbard by British journalist Russell Miller. Originally published: 26 October1987 Author: Russell Miller, Genre: Biography, Page count: 380, Publisher: Michael Joseph, Subject: L. Ron Hubbard

Between his second and third marriages, Ron dallied with his public relations assistant, luscious Barbara Kaye. She would soon conclude that he was paranoid.

Richard de Mille and Barbara Kaye at the house in Palm Springs where Hubbard plotted to kidnap his daughter Alexis.

'The United States Government at this time [1950] attempted to monopolize all his researches and force him to work on a project "to make man more suggestible" and when he was unwilling, tried to blackmail him by ordering him back to active duty to perform this function. Having made many friends he was able to instantly resign from the Navy and escape this trap. The Government never forgave him for this and soon began vicious, covert international attacks upon his work, all of which were proven false and baseless.' (What is Scientology?, 1978)

(Scientology's account of the years 1950-51.)

*   *   *   *   *

California, ever enchanted by fads and facile philosophies, was the natural habitat of Dianetics and it was to California that Hubbard returned in triumph at the beginning of August 1950, to be feted by joyful Dianeticists waiting to meet him at Los Angeles airport. Two years earlier, he had left as a penniless pulp fiction author; now he was back as a celebrity with a book firmly lodged at the top of every bestseller list and a growing legion of followers who truly believed him to be a genius.

He had a busy schedule ahead: apart from personal appearances and interviews, he was to lecture at the newly-formed Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation of California, all the big bookstores wanted him for signing sessions and, most important of all, he was to attend a rally on Thursday 10 August at the Shrine Auditorium. It promised to be Dianetics' finest hour, for on that evening the identity of the world's first 'clear' was to be announced.

The Shrine was a vast, mosque-like building with white stucco castellated walls and a dome in each corner, unforgettably characterized by the music critic of the LA Times as being of the 'neo-penal Bagdad' school of architecture. Built in 1925 by the Al Malaikah Temple, it was the largest auditorium in Los Angeles and could seat nearly 6500 people under a swooping ceiling designed to resemble the roof of a tent. When the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation booked it for the meeting on 10 August, few people expected more than half the seats to be filled.

Arthur Jean Cox, the young teletype operator who had met Hubbard at the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, left early for the meeting by streetcar and was surprised how crowded it was. 'More and more people got on at every stop,' he said. 'I couldn't believe that everyone was going to the meeting but when we arrived at the Shrine on Royal Street, everyone got off. I was absolutely amazed. By the time I got inside there were only a few seats left.'[1]

The audience was predominantly young, noisy and good-humoured. Many people carried well-thumbed copies of 'The Book', in the hope of getting them signed by Hubbard, and there was much speculation about 'the world's first clear' and what he or she would be able to do. Dozens of newspapers and magazines, including Life, had sent reporters and photographers to cover the event and those cynics who had predicted a sea of empty seats looked on in astonishment as even the aisles began to fill.

When L. Ron Hubbard walked on to the stage, followed by A. E. van Vogt, whom he had recently recruited, and other directors of the Foundation, there was a spontaneous roar from the audience, followed by applause and cheering that continued for several minutes. Hubbard, totally assured and relaxed, smiled broadly as he looked around the packed auditorium and finally held up his hands for silence.

The meeting opened with Hubbard demonstrating Dianetic techniques. With the help of a pretty blonde, he showed how to induce Dianetic reverie and then he 'run a grief incident' on a girl called Marcia. While the audience obligingly responded when Hubbard spread his arms for applause at the end of each demonstration, it all seemed a little too well rehearsed and there was a murmur of approval when someone stood up in the audience and called out: 'Ladies and gentlemen, somehow I can't help but feel that all this has been pre-arranged.'

Immediately people began shouting for Hubbard to demonstrate on someone from the audience and when a young man jumped on to the piano in the orchestra pit, a chant went up: 'Take him! Take him!' Hubbard, not in the least flustered by this turn of events, invited him up on to the stage. The young man introduced himself as an actor whose father had studied with Freud, which fortuitously gave Hubbard the opportunity of mentioning his own connection with the great analyst, through his old friend 'Snake' Thompson.

Sitting on facing chairs at the front of the stage, Hubbard made a determined attempt to audit the man, but he proved an unresponsive subject, answering almost every question in the negative. The audience soon became bored and restless and began calling, 'Throw him out, throw him out!' Hubbard, perhaps somewhat relieved, shook the man's hand and he stepped down.

The atmosphere throughout had remained perfectly cordial, even if the shouted comments from the audience were increasingly irreverent. When Hubbard was explaining the multitude of mental and physical benefits arising from successful auditing, someone yelled, 'Are your cavities filling up?' and caused a good deal of laughter.

As the highlight of the evening approached, there was a palpable sense of excitement and anticipation in the packed hall. A hush descended on the audience when at last Hubbard stepped up to the microphone to introduce the 'world's first clear'. She was, he said, a young woman by the name of Sonya Bianca, a physics major and pianist from Boston. Among her many newly acquired attributes, he claimed she had 'full and perfect recall of every moment of her life', which she would be happy to demonstrate. He turned slowly to the wings on one side of the stage and said: 'Will you come out now please, Sonya?'

The audience erupted once more in applause as a thin, obviously nervous, girl stepped out of the wings and into a spotlight which followed her to centre stage, where she was embraced by Hubbard. In a tremulous voice she told the meeting that Dianetics had cleared up her sinus trouble and cured her 'strange and embarrassing' allergy to pain. 'For days after I came in contact with paint I had a painful itching in my eyebrows,' she stammered. 'Now both conditions have cleared up and I feel like a million dollars.' She answered a few routine questions from Hubbard, who then made the mistake of inviting questions from the audience: they had clearly been expecting rather more spectacular revelations.

'What did you have for breakfast on October 3 1942?' somebody yelled. Miss Bianca understandably looked somewhat startled, blinked in the lights and shook her head. 'What's on page 122 of Dianetics, The Modern Science of Mental Health?' someone else asked. Miss Bianca opened her mouth but no words came out. Similar questions came thick and fast, amid much derisive laughter. Many in the audience took pity on the wretched girl and tried to put easier questions, but she was so terrified that she could not even remember simple formulae in physics, her own subject.

As people began getting up and walking out of the auditorium, one man noticed that Hubbard had momentarily turned his back on the girl and shouted, 'OK, what colour necktie is Mr Hubbard wearing?' The world's first 'clear' screwed up her face in a frantic effort to remember, stared into the hostile blackness of the auditorium, then hung her head in misery. It was an awful moment.

Hubbard, sweat glistening in beads on his forehead, stepped forward and brought the demonstration swiftly to an end. Quickwitted as always, he proffered an explanation for Miss Bianca's

impressive lapses of memory. The problem, Dianetically speaking, was that when he called her forward, asking her to come out 'now', the 'now' had frozen her in 'present time' and blocked her total recall. It was not particularly convincing, but it was the best he could do in the circumstances.

Forrie Ackerman, who was at the Shrine that night to see his client perform, summed up the feelings of many people who were there: 'I was somewhat disappointed not to see a vibrant woman in command of herself and situation. She certainly was not my idea of a "clear".'[2]

It would be some time before Hubbard produced another 'Clear' although his followers, in their enthusiasm, would frequently declare that their own protégés had reached that blissful state. One of these was a fifteen-year-old girl of such remarkable powers that she was said to have made her bad teeth fall out and grown new teeth in their place.[3] But no one suggested presenting her at a public meeting.

The débâcle at the Shrine was no more than a hiccup in the rising fortunes of L. Ron Hubbard. When, after the meeting, Ackerman called on his client in his suite at the Frostona Hotel in Los Angeles, Hubbard clapped him on the shoulder and boomed happily: 'Well, Forrie, I'm dragging down Clark Gable's salary.'

It was true: money was literally pouring in. For the first few weeks after van Vogt agreed to take over as head of the Los Angeles Foundation, he recalled doing little but tear open envelopes and pull out $500 cheques from people who wanted to take an auditor's course.[4] Only a few days after the Shrine meeting, the Foundation moved its headquarters into the former official mansion of the governor of California, a sprawling building shaded by palm trees on the corner of South Hoover and Adams, known as the 'Casa' because of its Spanish appearance. Although it cost $4.5 million, enough money had already come in for a down payment. Other branches of the Foundation had opened in New York, Washington DC, Chicago and Honolulu.

But while money was pouring in, it was also pouring out and there was no accounting, no organization, no financial strategy or control. 'One day the bank manager called me,' said van Vogt. 'He told me Mr Hubbard was in the front office and wanted to draw a cashier's cheque for $56,000 and was it all right to give it to him. I said, "He's the boss."'

Trying to hold all the reins, refusing to delegate, Hubbard became ever more authoritarian and suspicious of the people around him. 'He was having a lot of political and organizational problems with people grabbing for power,' said Barbara Kaye [not her real name], a public relations assistant at the Los Angeles Foundation. 'He didn't trust anyone and was highly paranoid. He thought the CIA had hit men after him. We'd be walking along the street and I would ask, "Why are you walking so fast?" He would look over his shoulder and say, "You don't know what it's like to be a target." No one was after him: it was all delusion.'

Barbara Kaye knew a lot about Ron's problems because she was having an affair with him. She was just twenty years old, an exceptionally pretty blonde and a psychology major. 'I wanted to get into public relations and an employment agency sent me along to the Foundation. They were looking for someone to answer the scurrilous attacks that the Press was making on Dianetics. Ron interviewed me for the job and hired me straight away.

'My first impression was of a husky, red-haired man with a full, flabby face - not by any means what one would call handsome. If I'd seen him on the street I wouldn't have given him a second look, but I soon learned he was a very creative, intelligent and articulate individual. He had a marvellous personality and was very dynamic. There was a lot going on in the office at that time and sometimes when I worked late he took me home. One night he kissed me and, well, one thing led to another. That's how it all started. I knew he was married, but I was very young at the time and not as concerned with other men's wives as perhaps I should have been.'

It was an affair squeezed into a hectic timetable. Hubbard was lecturing at the Foundation every day, seven days a week. A. E. van Vogt, who had temporarily abandoned science-fiction writing, got up at 5.30 each morning to drive down to the Casa to open the office. Hubbard arrived an hour later and chaired a daily meeting of the staff instructors, most of whom had received their initial training in Elizabeth, New Jersey. At eight o'clock the first students arrived. Hubbard lectured from eight to nine and demonstrated from nine to ten.

'We had an auditorium that could seat 500 people,' said van Vogt, 'but the lectures were always crowded. You see there was nothing available for ordinary people at that time in the way of therapy. Analysts were a lost cause because they were already charging too much and we offered a complete course for $500. What sticks in my mind was how fluently Ron talked off the top of his head. Every morning it was something different. It amazed me. Where had it all come from? That was the question in my mind. The only thoughts I ever got from Ron were that he had observed things they were doing in China and thought they were pretty good. I think he modified Chinese ideas.'

When he was not lecturing in the evenings, Hubbard spent his time with Barbara, who soon found herself hopelessly in love. She was thrilled when he rented a 'love nest' apartment for them at the Chateau

Marmont Hotel, a fake castle on a hill overlooking Sunset Strip which was a favourite haunt of movie stars. The first night they spent there together, Ron seemed to want to reassure her of the permanence of their relationship. He put his arm round her shoulders and took her through the apartment. 'This is your closet,' he said, 'this is your dressing-table, this is your toothbrush . . .' Barbara was deeply touched.

Two days later, Sara and the baby arrived in town from the East Coast and moved into the love nest. When Barbara turned up for work at the Foundation next morning, she found her toothbrush on her desk, along with the few personal possessions she had left at the apartment. While she stood staring at the pathetic little bundle with tears welling in her eyes, Hubbard came over and hissed his apologies, whispered that his wife was a 'bitch' and that there was nothing he could do. 'I miss you,' he croaked. Then, to Barbara's amazement, he asked her if she would like to have dinner with him and Sara that evening. Speechless, she could do no more than shake her head.

Despite the hurt, Barbara could not bring herself to break off the affair. 'I was completely infatuated. I remember I said to my room-mate - we had a small apartment in Beverly Hills - "If I ever tell you I am marrying this guy I want you to tie me up and not let me out of the door because he's a lunatic." But I didn't trust myself not to do it because I was so enchanted by him. Being with him was like watching a fascinating character playing a role on a stage. I was never bored with him. He was a magical, delightful man, a great raconteur, very bright and amusing and a very gentle, patient and sweet lover.

'At the same time I recognized early on that he was also deeply disturbed. Some of the things he told me were really bizarre, but I never knew what to believe. He said his mother was a lesbian and that he had found her in bed with another woman and that he had been born as the result of an attempted abortion. He talked a lot about his grandfather who could really hold his liquor and played a fiddle with the head of a negro carved on the end, but he never talked about his father and never once mentioned he had children. I did not know he had a son until I read it in the newspapers years later.'

Towards the end of September, Barbara accompanied Hubbard on a lecture tour in the San Francisco area in her capacity as public relations officer of the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation. To her acute embarrassment, Sara came to see them off at Union Station and ostentatiously kissed her husband goodbye, at the same time sweeping her eyes up and down Barbara's figure. Hubbard, too, was discomforted and drank a great deal in the club car of the train as it rattled north.

His spirits improved greatly when they arrived in San Francisco and he discovered that a welcoming barbecue party had been arranged at the home of a local Dianeticist. Barbara, however, had an unhappy time - during the course of the evening she wandered into the kitchen and found Hubbard kissing his host's wife. Later that evening when she refused to sleep with him he lost his temper and bellowed, 'They're all against me!' That night, Barbara wrote in her diary: 'I see him now as vain, arrogant, self-centred and unable to tolerate any frustration.'

They soon made it up, as a subsequent passage in her diary recorded: 'Things were better in Oakland. He took a penthouse apartment, I was with him constantly and he fell in love with me a little again and I felt closer to him than ever. He drank excessively and talked in proportion to his intake. Grotesque tales about his family mostly and his hatred of his mother, who he said was a lesbian and a whore . . . He is a deeply unhappy man. He said the only thing to show him affection for the last few years, before he met me, was Calico, his cat.'[5]

In October, Hubbard returned to the East Coast for a few days and was greeted at Elizabeth with the news that the Foundation was approaching a financial crisis - its monthly income could no longer even cover the payroll - and Joseph Winter, the man who had done so much to validate Dianetics, was about to resign.

Winter was deeply disillusioned with the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation. He no longer believed that Dianetics was free from risk - two pre-clears had developed acute psychoses during auditing - and he was extremely worried by the Foundation's continuing willingness to accept anyone for training as an auditor.

'People had breakdowns quite often,' said Perry Chapdelaine, a Sears Roebuck clerk from Mason City, Iowa, who was a student at Elizabeth. 'It was always hushed up before anyone found out about it. It happened to a guy on my course, a chemical engineer. They wanted to get him out of the school and I volunteered to stay with him in an adjoining building. He never slept or ate and was in a terrible state, no one could do anything with him and in the end they took him off to an asylum.'[6]

Apart from what he considered to be inherent dangers in allowing anyone to audit anyone, Winter had also begun to doubt whether the state of 'clear' was realistically obtainable. Finally, he was frustrated by the fact that the Research Foundation was making absolutely no attempt to conduct any serious scientific research, which was one of its avowed aims. He had voiced his growing concern on several occasions, only to be airily dismissed by Hubbard. It became clear to Winter that he had no alternative but to resign.[7]

Art Ceppos was largely in sympathy with Winter and also submitted his resignation. Hubbard's reaction was typically immoderate. Angry and bitter at what he considered to be a betrayal by two of his earliest supporters, he spread the word that Winter and Ceppos had been plotting to seize control of the Foundation and had consequently been 'forced' to resign.[8]

It was not Hubbard's style to be satisfied with simply blackening the reputation of his enemies - he wanted revenge. An opportunity presented itself in the unlovely form of Senator Joe McCarthy, the self-seeking demagogue who, in February 1950, had accused the State Department of being riddled with Communists and Communist sympathizers. The atmosphere of fear and suspicion generated during the witch-hunts that followed cast a shadow across America; almost nothing was worse, during the era of McCarthyism, than to be a 'Commie', or be thought to be a 'Commie'. On 3 November 1950, the general counsel of the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation in Elizabeth contacted the FBI and said that Art Ceppos, president of Hermitage House, was a Communist sympathizer who had recently tried to get hold of the Foundation's mailing list of sixteen thousand names which would be 'valuable to anyone interested in circulating Communist party literature'.[9]

Hubbard stayed less than a week in Elizabeth and made little attempt to resolve the financial crisis facing the Foundation. He had absolutely no interest in balance sheets and operated on the optimistic, if unrealistic, belief that somehow everything would come out all right in the end. Further problems, of a more personal nature, arose when he returned to Los Angeles: he began to suspect his wife was having an affair. One evening he had insisted on an outlandish double date with his wife and his lover. Barbara, who hated the idea, reluctantly showed up to meet Ron and Sara at a Los Angeles restaurant in the company of Miles Hollister, one of the instructors from the LA Foundation. 'I think Sara must have known what was going on,' said Barbara. 'She was very hostile. At one point in the evening we were talking about guns and she said I looked like the type to carry a Saturday night special.'

The dinner party back-fired on Hubbard - his lover's date became his wife's lover. Miles Hollister was twenty-two years old, tall, dark-haired and strikingly handsome, a graduate of Bard College in New York State, where he had been president of the student body, and a sportsman of some repute - he was the first man to land a swordfish off the coast of Florida using light tackle. In short, he was everything that Hubbard was not: young, attractive, sporting and well-connected. It was hardly surprising that Hubbard conceived a passionate loathing for the young man and predictable that he would retaliate. His first move was curiously elliptical - he summarily fired two of Hollister's closest friends at the Foundation, claiming they were Communists.

Jack Horner, who was by then working at the Los Angeles Foundation, attempted to intervene on their behalf. 'They were both nice guys and highly trained instructors and I tried to get them off the hook. I went and confronted Hubbard in his office and said, "You can't fire those guys, you don't have any evidence." He ranted and raved, pacing up and down, and said, "You don't understand. I'm fighting a battle here. I might lose some people on the way, but I'm going to win."

'Hubbard was willing to do anything, for him it was any means to an end. A couple of weeks later he got mad at a fellow named Charlie Crail, who had helped set up the LA organization. They had some disagreement about how the place should be run. He called me and another guy into his office and told us to go and steal Charlie's Dianetics certificates. We told him we wouldn't do it and that he shouldn't count on us for that kind of operation. He couldn't understand it. As far as he was concerned, because he had signed the certificates they belonged to him. There were lots of incidents like that, but I was usually prepared to go along with them because I felt his genius far outshone his craziness.'[10]

With his suspicions festering, Hubbard's relationship with Sara deteriorated rapidly. One night they had a violent row and Sara shouted at him, 'Why don't you just go off and spend the weekend with some pretty girl!' Hubbard stormed out of the house, picked up Barbara Kaye and drove to a motel in Malibu, where he spent much of the weekend moodily swigging whisky.

'He was very down in the dumps about his wife,' said Barbara. 'He told me how he had met Sara. He said he went to a party and got drunk and when he woke up in the morning he found Sara was in bed with him. He was having a lot of problems with her. I remember he said to me I was the only person he knew who would set up a white silk tent for him. I was rather surprised when we were driving back to LA on Sunday evening, he stopped at a florist to buy some flowers for his wife.'

Barbara kept a meticulous diary in which she constantly analyzed and re-analyzed her affair with Hubbard, speculated on his mental condition and recorded day-to-day drama. On Monday 27 November, she noted that Hubbard burst into her office that morning 'tremendously emotionally disturbed'. Sara had tried to commit suicide over the weekend by taking sleeping pills, he said, after Barbara had spoken to her on the telephone. He assumed Barbara had told her about their affair.

It was not true. Barbara had telephoned to speak to Hubbard about Foundation business and had only exchanged a few words with Sara after learning Ron was not at home. Hubbard would not believe it: he had audited Sara and 'recovered an engram' indicating that her suicide attempt was triggered by Barbara's telephone call.

An argument inevitably followed and Barbara reconstructed the extraordinary 'highlights' in her journal, very much as if she was writing a pulp romance:

'ME: You make a habit of instilling engrams, too, don't you? That's fine. That's good behaviour for the founder of Dianetics. 
HE: Isn't it exciting for you being a pawn on such a grand chess board? You are playing for the world. Can you think of anything more exciting? 
ME: I don't give a good God damn about the world. I want a single, gratifying, human relationship. 
HE: You couldn't have one. You're an ambitious woman. You crave power. You're a Marie Antoinette, a Cleopatra, a Lucretia Borgia . . . you must have a Caesar or an Alexander. 
ME: No, I don't need a Caesar, though Caesar may need me. I know you now, Ron, and at this moment am closer to you than anyone has ever been. 
HE: (Head hung low) And knowing me you don't care for me any more. 
ME: I care for you in a different, new and exciting way. (He put his hands on my shoulders and drew me to him.) 
HE: I shouldn't do this. (He kissed me.) 
ME: You still care for me. 
HE: How do you know? 
ME: You can't find your hat. You're distracted. 
HE: That makes you feel powerful, doesn't it? 
ME: It makes me aware of something interesting. You still want me. 
HE: Why? 
ME: Because you need me. You need me more than I need you. 
HE: In 1939 I was very much in love with a girl. She felt that way too. When I knew she had a boyfriend coming up, I waited on the stairway with a gun, just for a moment. Then I said they are flies. I realized who and what I was and left. I told her I would leave her free to marry a sharpie with a cigar in his mouth from Muncie, Indiana. Would you like to be left free? 
ME: The alternative is a sharpie with a Kool cigarette from Elizabeth, New Jersey. 
HE: That was unwise, very unwise, of you to say that.'

Barbara discovered just how unwise it was when, two days later, she received a terse message via Western Union: 'Would advise you to

forget all about me and the Foundation - Ron.' 'I was in shock,' she recalled. 'Here was the man I was supposed to be having a great love affair with telling me I was fired.'

A.E. van Vogt, meanwhile, was striving to keep the Los Angeles Foundation in business. He calculated that the six Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundations had spent around one million dollars and were more than $200,000 in debt. At the beginning of November, while Hubbard was away on the East Coast, van Vogt cut the staff of sixty by half in an attempt to stay solvent. Hubbard was furious and began hiring indiscriminately the moment he returned: within a week, the payroll was back up to sixty-seven people. Van Vogt remonstrated, but Hubbard insisted that the extra staff was needed for research. 'Financial disaster was inevitable,' said van Vogt.[11]

One of the research projects about which Hubbard was very excited was the aptly named 'GUK' programme. 'GUK' was a haphazard cocktail of benzedrine, vitamins and glutamic acid which Hubbard believed facilitated auditing. 'I recall Ron telling a meeting about this great breakthrough in Dianetics,' said Forrest Ackerman. 'He said he had discovered a chemical way to audit yourself called GUK. It comprised huge quantities of vitamins which you took every two hours for at least twenty-four hours. If you took enough, he said, it would release the engrams within you without the need for a partner.

'The Foundation rented a huge complex on Rossmore near Beverly and loads of Dianeticists were holed up there going through the GUK programme but it didn't last too long - I think it was a dead end.'

In December, Look magazine published a scathing article under the headline 'Dianetics - Science or Hoax?' The text left the reader in little doubt as to which the magazine thought it was. 'Half a million laymen have swallowed this poor man's psychiatry . . .' it began. 'Hubbard has demonstrated once again that Barnum underestimated the sucker birth rate.' The tens of thousands of people who had swallowed Hubbard's doctrine were characterized as 'the usual lunatic fringe types, frustrated maiden ladies who have worked their way through all the available cults, young men whose homosexual engrams are all too obvious . . .' The article referred to the 'awe, fear and deep disgust' with which the medical profession viewed Dianetics and quoted a doctor at the famous Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas, who conceded that sufferers from mental malaise might find temporary relief from 'Dianetic hocus pocus' just as they sometimes do from hypnotism or voodoo. 'But,' he added, 'the greatest harm to a person would come not because of the vicious nature of Dianetic therapy but because it will lead them away from treatment which they may badly need.'

Hubbard's primary attraction, Look concluded, was that his ersatz psychiatry was available to all. 'It's cheap. It's accessible. It's a public festival to be played at clubs and parties. In a country with only 6000 professional psychiatrists, whose usual consultation fees start at $15 an hour, Hubbard has introduced mass-production methods. Whether such methods can actually help you if you're sick is a moot point.'

As always in the face of an attack, particularly from the direction of the despised media, committed Dianeticists closed ranks and there was no lack of cheer at the LA Foundation's Christmas party, attended by staff and students alike. Barbara Kaye turned up and was asked to dance by Hubbard. 'I need some counselling, doctor, 'she whispered in his ear. 'What do you do with a pre-clear who keeps dreaming she is in bed with you?' He grinned broadly and replied, 'I have been thinking of beginning a series of empirical tests on the result of substituting the reality for the dream.' Within a few days, their affair resumed: on New Year's Eve, Hubbard missed the party he was supposed to attend with Sara and spent the night with Barbara at her apartment on Dale Drive in Beverly Hills.

In January 1951, the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners instituted proceedings against the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation in Elizabeth, accusing it of teaching medicine without a licence. The Foundation hired an attorney who was confident he could defend the suit, but there was a strong feeling among the directors that they should 'skip'; inquiries were instituted to find a state where they would be more welcome.[12] Hubbard, who clearly thought the prospects in New Jersey looked bleak, asked two reliable students at Elizabeth - John Sanborn and Greg Hemingway, the youngest son of the writer - to load all his personal possessions into his black Lincoln limousine and drive it to Los Angeles.

In the interim, perhaps still hoping to save his marriage, he persuaded Sara and the baby to accompany him to Palm Springs, where he had rented a single-storey adobe house with a small garden of flowering shrubs on Mel Avenue. He wanted to get away from the distractions of Los Angeles, he explained, to start writing a sequel to Dianetics. It was to be called Science of Survival and would introduce faster, simplified auditing techniques.

Hubbard, Sara and Alexis were joined in Palm Springs by Richard de Mille, son of the film director Cecil B. de Mille, who had recently been appointed Hubbard's personal assistant. 'Although it never occurred to me at the time, I think my name had something to do with it,' de Mille acknowledged. 'He liked to collect celebrities. I had got into Dianetics as early as possible after reading the article in Astounding and I was working at the LA Foundation making publications out of Hubbard's lectures when he asked me to go with him to Palm Springs.

'There was a lot of turmoil and dissension in the Foundation at the time; he kept accusing Communists of trying to take control and he was having difficulties with Sara. It was clear their marriage was breaking up - she was very critical of him and he told me she was fooling around with Hollister and he didn't trust her.'[13]

Predictably, Sara did not stay long in Palm Springs - the tension was more than she could stand. Hubbard did not try to detain her and as soon as she and Alexis had departed for Los Angeles, he sent a telegram to Barbara Kaye telling her he loved her and needed her. She caught a bus for Palm Springs on 3 February and was met by Hubbard at the bus station. 'As he walked towards me,' she said, 'I could see that he was ill.'

Kaye, who would later become a psychologist, said she made a clinical diagnosis of Hubbard during the weeks they spent together in Palm Springs. 'There was no doubt in my mind he was a manic depressive with paranoid tendencies. Many manics are delightful, productive people with tremendous energy and self-confidence. He was like that in his manic stage - enormously creative, carried away by feelings of omnipotence and talking all the time of grandiose schemes.

'But when I arrived he was in a deep depression. He had been totally unable to work on his book, which had been originally scheduled for publication that month. That's why he had called me - he was hoping I could help him get through his writers' block. He was very sad and lethargic, lying around feeling sorry for himself and drinking a great deal. Sometimes he would go to the piano and fiddle around, improvising weird melodies of his own composition. He thought that Sara had hypnotised him in his sleep and commanded him not to write. He told me that the people in Elizabeth had tried to "slip him a Mickey" in his glass of milk and another time they attempted to insert a fatal hypo into his eye and heart to try and stop him from ever writing again. Those were the engrams he was running.

'I tried to help him by using a technique I had learned at college, breaking down the problem into small parts and presenting it a step at a time. I got a block of butcher's paper and said to him, "Look, you don't have to write. Just sit down at this table and look at the paper and when you don't want to look at it any more, get up and leave." He sat there for ten minutes on the first day and this went on for several days until one day he picked up a pencil and began to write. Next day he was back at work, very excited and enthused about what he was doing. He was singing and horsing around, talking, laughing and discussing ideas in the kitchen until three o'clock in the morning.'

One of Hubbard's favourite topics of conversation was psychiatrists. One night over dinner at Mel Avenue, he told Barbara about an occasion when he had demonstrated auditing techniques to a group of psychiatrists and one of them had said to him, 'If you claim to cure people by doing that, if you're not careful we'll lock you up.' He laughed excessively, took a bite out of a chicken leg and spluttered, 'They called me a paranoid, can you imagine it?' That night Barbara wrote in her diary: 'My blood ran cold as he was saying that. It was all I could do to keep from weeping.'

Barbara had been in Palm Springs for nearly three weeks when Ron began fretting that 'something was brewing' in Los Angeles. He decided that they should return immediately, even though the book was not yet finished.

'I didn't see him for a week after we got back,' Barbara said, 'then he turned up at my place at about five o'clock one afternoon, very distraught and pale, with his hair all over the place. He paced up and down in my room and told me he had discovered Miles and Sara in bed together. He was afraid that they were plotting with a psychiatrist in San Francisco to get him committed to a mental institution. Sara had telephoned Jack Maloney, the general manager in Elizabeth, and said a doctor had recommended he should be treated for paranoid schizophrenia. He said he had found letters proving that Miles was conspiring with Ceppos and Winter to get control of the Foundation. "Please don't ask me anything," he said. "I'm in a very bad way. I'm going to the desert for a few days alone. Things are very bad."'

Hubbard did not go off into the desert alone. He had other plans: he was going to get Sara committed before she committed him. But first he had to kidnap Alexis.

On the evening of Saturday, 24 February 1951, John Sanborn was babysitting for eleven-month-old Alexis Hubbard at the Casa on Hoover and Adams in Los Angeles. Several of the staff, Sanborn included, lived in one wing of the building. Sanborn and Greg Hemingway used to hang around with Hank and Marge Hunter, who worked in the research department; they'd usually eat together in a little joint down the road called 'The Bread Line'. Marge, who was a friend of Sara's, had a baby daughter the same age as Alexis and Sara occasionally left Alexis with Marge when she wanted to go out.

This particularly Saturday evening, Sanborn was tired and when there was a suggestion that they should all go to the movies, he offered to stay behind and look after the kids. He had done it lots of times before, knew all about changing nappies and giving them bottles. Marge was grateful and went off with the others, happy to have a night out, leaving Sanborn in charge of her daughter, Tam, and 'Lexie'.

At about eleven o'clock there was an urgent rapping at the door. Sanborn opened it and found Frank Dessler, one of Hubbard's aides, standing on the doorstep wearing a long topcoat and wide-brimmed felt hat. His hands were thrust into his coat pockets in such a way that Sanborn was positive he was carrying a gun. 'Mr Hubbard's coming,' Dessler rasped. 'He's here to get Alexis.' Sanborn thought it was a hell of a time of night to do it, but said nothing.

A few minutes later, Hubbard came in, also wearing a topcoat and felt hat. 'We're just taking Alexis,' he said. Sanborn led the way to the room where both children were sleeping. Hubbard leaned over and picked up a toy from Alexis's crib. 'This hers?' he asked. Sanborn shook his head and Hubbard threw it on the floor. While they were getting the baby's things together, Sanborn started to say, 'Listen, if she wakes up in the night there's a certain routine . . .' but Hubbard cut him short. 'I don't care about that,' he snapped. 'We've got a nurse for her and we're taking her to Palm Springs.' He picked Alexis out of her crib, still asleep, and hurried away into the night.

Sanborn wondered idly what was going on, but he went to bed soon afterwards. At one o'clock in the morning he was woken by someone shaking him violently and he sat up with a start to find Miles Hollister standing over his bed. If he had not been so sleepy, he would have laughed: Hollister, too, was wearing a long topcoat and felt hat and also appeared to be carrying a gun. 'Where did Ron take Lexie?' he demanded. Sanborn rubbed his eyes and mumbled, 'Palm Springs.' 'When did they leave?' Hollister asked. It seemed that Sanborn did nut respond quickly enough, for Hollister shouted 'When did they leave?' Sanborn told him and he hurried out of the room. A few minutes later, Sanborn heard Hollister revving his car outside.

Hollister headed out of town at high speed in the direction of Palm Springs, which was exactly what Hubbard had intended him to do. By then, Alexis had been handed over to the twenty-four hour Westwood Nurses Registry in Los Angeles. Hubbard, posing as a businessman by the name of James Olsen, had asked the agency to arrange for his child, Anne-Marie, to be put in the care of a competent nurse for about a month because his wife had suddenly been taken seriously ill and business commitments required him to leave immediately for the East Coast. Melba McGonigel, the owner of the agency, was deeply suspicious but agreed to take the baby after 'Mr Olsen' had signed a 'To whom it may concern' statement releasing the agency of any responsibility.

Shortly after one o'clock on the morning of 25 February, a black Lincoln drew up outside the Hubbards' apartment at 1251 Westmoreland Avenue in West Los Angeles. Richard de Mille was at the wheel, Hubbard and Frank Dessler were in the back. Inside the house, Sara sat in her nightgown by the telephone, weeping into a handkerchief as she waited for news of Alexis. She jumped up in alarm when she heard a key scraping at the door, but her fear turned to anger when her husband and Dessler appeared in the doorway. 'Where's Lexie?' she screamed. Neither man said a word. They grabbed her by each arm, one of them clamped a hand over her mouth and they bustled her out of the house, across the sidewalk and into the back of the car, which drove off at speed.

Sara fought like a cat in the back of the car, screaming and shouting at Hubbard, who in turn was shouting at her. At one point, when the car stopped at traffic lights, she tried to leap out and thereafter Hubbard gripped her round the neck in a stranglehold while the argument continued. 'She was enraged at being hauled off and was fulminating insults in all directions,' said de Mille. 'She was very bitter about their marriage and his conduct and Ron was fulminating against Miles Hollister and her conduct.'

At Los Angeles city limit, Dessler was dropped off and the Lincoln sped on towards San Bernardino, where Ron hoped to get Sara medically examined and declared insane. 'She was eager to get the same opinion about him,' de Mille declared, 'but Ron held all the cards at that point.' There followed a ludicrous farce as they toured the dark streets of San Bernardino trying to find a doctor while Sara alternately screamed at, and pleaded with, her husband to tell her where he had taken Alexis. Eventually, Hubbard went into the county hospital while de Mille guarded Sara in the car. He returned after some few minutes, apparently surprised and disgusted that there was no doctor available in the early hours of the morning willing to declare his wife insane.

At dawn, the Lincoln could be seen trailing a cloud of dust as it headed east across the desert towards the Arizona border; Hubbard had ordered de Mille to drive to the airport at Yuma. The angry squabbling in the back of the car had not let up for a moment. Sara swore again and again that she would have Ron arrested for kidnapping the moment she was free and he swore that if she did she would never see Alexis again. The mutual threats and recriminations continued while Hubbard was thinking hard how he could extricate himself from the situation.

Parked in the watery early morning sunshine in a quiet corner of Yuma airport, the warring couple at last agreed on a temporary truce. Hubbard promised to release Sara and tell her where Alexis was if she signed a piece of paper saying that she had gone with him voluntarily. Sara tearfully signed and Hubbard scribbled a note to Dessler: 'Feb. 25. To Frank - This will authorize Sara to take Alexis to live with her when she has a house. L. Ron Hubbard.' He jotted down the name of the agency he said was caring for Alexis - 'Baby Sitters Inc, Hollywood phone book' - and added, 'Give Sara the baby's address now so Sara can see her.'

Hubbard and de Mille got out of the car and Sara, still in her nightgown, drove back to Los Angeles clutching the piece of paper she believed would enable her to be re-united with her baby. But Hubbard had no intention of permitting such a reunion. 'He believed that as long as he had the child he could control the situation,' de Mille explained.

While Sara was on her way back to Los Angeles, Hubbard was standing in a telephone booth at Yuma airport giving urgent instructions to Frank Dessler. He was to arrange for Alexis to be collected from her nurse before Sara got there. No matter what it cost, he was then to hire a reliable couple to drive the baby to Elizabeth, New Jersey, where Hubbard would meet her.

It did not take long for Sara to discover that Ron had misled her but by the time she had persuaded Dessler to reveal the baby's whereabouts it was too late. She arrived at the Westwood nursery just two hours after Alexis had been taken away. Sara filed a kidnapping complaint with Los Angeles police department, but Hubbard was lucky - the police dismissed the incident as a domestic dispute which was nothing to do with them.

Hubbard did not go directly to Elizabeth because he wanted to block any further attempts Sara might make to have him committed. Accompanied by the loyal de Mille, he caught a commuter plane to Phoenix and from there they flew to Chicago, where Hubbard presented himself for examination by a psychiatrist and a psychologist, both equally bemused.

'He wanted a testimonial from a professional who would say he was OK and that he was not a paranoid schizophrene,' said de Mille. 'He and I went first to a psychiatrist who didn't like the smell of it. He obviously thought he was being manipulated, so we just paid him $10 and left. Then we went to a prominent diagnostic psychologist of that era who did some projective testing on Hubbard and produced an upbeat, harmless report, saying that he was a creative individual upset by family problems and dissension and it was depressing his work and so forth. It was very bland but Hubbard was delighted with it. The main value of it to him was that it didn't say he was crazy, so he could claim he had been given a clean bill of health by the psychiatric profession.'

Before leaving Chicago, Hubbard called at the offices of the FBI to alert them of his suspicions that one of his employees was a Communist. The man's name, he was far from reluctant to reveal, was Miles Hollister.[14] Hubbard and de Mille then flew to New York and caught a taxi to Elizabeth, where the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation was still in operation, although besieged by creditors. They checked into a hotel and waited for Alexis to arrive.

While they were there, a further complication entered Hubbard's already entangled private life: Polly Hubbard filed suit in Port Orchard, Washington, for maintenance, alleging that her former husband had 'promoted a cult called Dianetics', had authored a bestseller, owned valuable property and was well able to afford payment of maintenance for his two children, Nibs, then sixteen, and Katie, fifteen. Hubbard responded by claiming that his first wife was not a fit and proper person to have control of the children because she 'drinks to excess and is a dipsomaniac'.

On 3 March 1951, Hubbard, in his role as patriotic citizen, wrote to the FBI in Washington to provide the names and descriptions of fifteen 'known or suspected Communists' within his organization. Heading the list were his wife and her lover:

'SARA NORTHRUP (HUBBARD): formerly of 1003 S. Orange Grove Avenue, Pasadena, Calif. 25 yrs. of age, 5'10", 140 lbs. Currently missing somewhere in California. Suspected only. Had been friendly with many Communists. Currently intimate with them but evidently under coercion. Drug addiction set in fall 1950. Nothing of this known to me until a few weeks ago. Separation papers being filed and divorce applied for.

'MILES HOLLISTER: Somewhere in the vicinity of Los Angeles. Evidently a prime mover but very young. About 22 yrs, 6', 180 lbs. Black hair. Sharp chin, broad forehead, rather Slavic. Confessedly a member of the Young Communists. Center of most turbulence in our organization. Dissmissed [sic] in February when affiliations discovered. Active and dangerous. Commonly armed. Outspokenly disloyal to the U.S.'

FBI director John Edgar Hoover replied promptly: 'I wish to thank you for the information you have made available to this Bureau.'[15]

Four days later, Hubbard kept an appointment, arranged at his request, with an FBI agent from the Internal Security Section. His intention was to press home his accusations against Hollister, as was evident from the agent's report: 'Hubbard advised that he felt that Communists within his organization were undermining its structure. He advised that he had turned over the names of several suspected Communists to the FBI office in Los Angeles. Hubbard could only recall the name of one of these individuals. He stated Miles Hollister was one of the individuals he suspected of being Communistically inclined. Concerning Hollister, Hubbard stated that he was instrumental in driving Hubbard's wife, Sara Elizabeth Northrup, to the point of insanity. Hubbard expressed considerable concern in connection with Hollister's influence on his wife. He stated that his wife, as well as his Army .45 automatic, had been missing for several days  Later in the interview, Hubbard disclosed that Russia was interested in his work. 'Hubbard stated that he strongly feels that Dianetics can be used to combat Communism. However, he declined to elaborate on how this might be done. He stated that the Soviets apparently realized the value of Dianetics because as early as 1938 an official of Amtorg, while at The Explorers Club in New York, contacted him to suggest that he go to Russia and develop Dianetics there.

'In an apparent attempt to give credence to his statements, Hubbard advised that he was recently psychoanalyzed in Chicago and was found to be quite normal . . .'[16] The FBI agent conducting the interview could not agree: he concluded that Hubbard was a 'mental case'.[17]

During his short stay in Elizabeth, Hubbard managed to alienate his old friend and mentor, John W. Campbell, who resigned from the Foundation and thus joined Hubbard's lengthening list of enemies. In Campbell's view, Hubbard had become impossible to work with and was responsible for the ruinous finances and complete disorganization throughout the Dianetics movement. (Dessler wrote to Hubbard on 9 March to say that none of the staff at the LA Foundation had been paid for more than two weeks, but Hubbard seemed unconcerned.)

Soon after Alexis arrived, Hubbard announced to de Mille that they were going to go south, where it was warmer, so that he could continue with his book. It had been snowing for weeks in Elizabeth and de Mille was not in least the sorry to leave, even though Hubbard had made it clear that it would be his responsibility to care for the baby.

They were unlikely fellow travellers: a large, forty-year-old man with a florid complexion, flaming red hair and a Kool cigarette constantly between his lips; his diminutive companion, twenty-nine years old, rather shy and very much in awe of the older man; and a gurgling twelve-month-old baby in nappies just learning to walk. The three of them arrived in Tampa, Florida, in the middle of March. They took two rooms in a small hotel: Hubbard had a room to himself, de Mille and the baby shared. 'It never crossed my mind that the baby should go in with him,' said de Mille. 'He was the leader and I was the follower. He gave the orders; I was privileged to serve.'

Hubbard pretended to look for property in Tampa, but de Mille noticed that he seemed nervous and ill at ease much of the time. 'One evening I knocked on his door and he opened it carrying a loaded .45 service automatic. I must have looked a bit surprised because he said, "You shouldn't creep up on me like that, Dick." I didn't even know he had a gun until that moment.'

A couple of days later Hubbard said to de Mille: 'I don't like the way things feel around here. I want to go to a place where I can breathe free. We're going to Havana.'

Havana in the early 'fifties, before Castro, was the fun capital of the Western hemisphere - a corrupt, colourful, hedonistic, wide-open city where tourists with money were guaranteed a good time. Americans did not even need a passport to enter Cuba and no one raised an eyebrow at the two men who arrived from Florida in the company of an apparently motherless baby. They took a taxi downtown and checked into a hotel on the Paseo Marti, Havana's bustling main street.

'Hubbard managed to rent a very old Spanish typewriter', de Mille recalled, 'and was madly banging away on it all night, while I was taking care of the baby and trying to sleep with the water pipes rattling in the wall. After we had stayed there a couple of nights, we went to a real estate agent and rented a ground-floor apartment in the Vedado district, the Beverly Hills of Havana. Once we had moved in, we hired two Jamaican women to look after Alexis, which was a great relief to me.'

Comfortably installed in the apartment, Hubbard began working intensively in his book, dictating into a recording machine. As was his usual habit, he worked all night with little to sustain him but a bottle of rum, which was usually empty by dawn.

In the afternoons, he would often sit and talk with de Mille. 'He talked about himself a lot, but as is often true with that kind of person he didn't really give me any confidences: he was telling me his story as he thought I ought to know it. He told me about Jack Parsons and Aleister Crowley and all that. He didn't take any responsibility for the black magic rituals and blamed them on Parsons, but he admitted he was there.

'What I didn't understand about him at the time was his lack of personal attachment. He thought people were there to be used, to serve the user and didn't have any importance in their own right. I don't think he abducted Alexis, for example, with any intention of keeping her; he was just using her to keep control of the situation.

'When I first saw him at the meeting at The Shrine auditorium I was very impressed. I thought he was a great man who had made a great discovery and whatever his shortcomings they must be discounted because he had the answer. He promised heaven. He said I have the key which can open the door, do you want to go there? It did not matter that his qualifications were suspect; he held the key. Actually, he was very widely read, a sort of self-made intellectual. I don't think he did any research in the academic sense, but he knew a lot about Freud, hypnosis, the occult, magic, etcetera, and Dianetics grew out of that knowledge.

'I don't think Dianetics were necessarily successful because the time was right. The time is never wrong for a cultist movement. People present new ideas which they say are going to change the world and there are always a certain number of people who believe them. Lenin was the Hubbard of 1917. Hubbard was the Madame Blavatsky of 1950.'

Hubbard's ability to concentrate on his work was subjected to a severe setback when the American newspapers of Thursday 12 April arrived in Cuba. Sara had at last blown the whistle and filed a writ at Los Angeles Superior Court demanding the return of her child. The headlines told the story: 'Cult Founder Accused of Tot Kidnap', '"Dianetic" Hubbard Accused of Plot to Kidnap Wife', 'Hiding of Baby Charged to Dianetics Author'. Most newspapers carried a picture of the distraught mother, smiling broadly.

After digesting this less than welcome news, Hubbard sat down and wrote a letter to Sara. It was dated 15 April and contained all the pulp writer's flair for fantasy:

'Dear Sara,

I have been in the Cuban military hospital and I am being transferred to the United States next week as a classified scientist immune from interference of all kinds.

Though I will be hospitalized probably a long time, Alexis is getting excellent care. I see her every day. She is all is have to live for.

My wits never gave way under all you did and let them do but my body didn't stand up. My right side is paralyzed and getting more so. I hope my heart lasts. I may live a long time and again I may not. But Dianetics will last 10,000 years - for the Army and Navy have it now.

My Will is all changed. Alexis will get a fortune unless she goes to you as she would then get nothing. Hope to see you once more. Goodbye - I love you.


The next day, Hubbard marched into the US Embassy in Havana, insisted on seeing the military attaché and asked for protection from Communists who, he said, were trying to steal his research material. He appealed, as one officer to another, for help. The attaché, clearly sceptical, murmured something about 'seeing what he could do' and cabled the FBI in Washington for 'any pertinent information' about his wild-eyed visitor. Back came the reply that Hubbard had been interviewed on 7 March last and that 'agent conducting interview considered Hubbard to be mental case'.[17]

De Mille had not noticed the paralysis Hubbard mentioned in his moving letter to Sara, nor indeed was he aware that Hubbard was interned in a military hospital, but he certainly registered a drooping in his spirits. 'He began to get very nervous again and complained that be wasn't feeling well. He said he had to move downtown, so we broke our lease and moved into the Packard Hotel, which faced the park and overlooked the entrance to the harbour and the prison. There he proceeded to get sick. It was probably an ulcer, but he said it was the result of pain-drug hypnosis which Sara and Winter had done way back.'

The news from Los Angeles was not calculated to make him feel any better. On 23 April, Sara filed for divorce, citing 'extreme cruelty, great mental anguish and physical suffering'. Her allegations were sensational. Apart froth charging Hubbard with bigamy and kidnapping, Sara claimed he had subjected her to 'systematic torture, including loss of sleep, beatings, and strangulations and scientific experiments'. Because of his 'crazy misconduct' she was in 'hourly fear of both the life of herself and of her infant daughter, who she has not seen for two months'.

All the salacious details were included in the divorce complaint. While they were living at the Chateau Marmont, Sara said Ron had told her he no longer wanted to be married to her but did not want a divorce as it might damage his reputation. His suggestion was that she 'should kill herself if she really loved him'. Subsequently he prevented her from sleeping for a period of four days and then gave her sleeping pills 'resulting in a nearness to the shadow of death'.

Sara accused her husband of frequently trying to strangle her; on one occasion, shortly before Christmas 1950, be had been so violent he ruptured the Eustachian tube in her left car. The following month, at Palm Springs, he had started his car in gear while she was getting out and knocked her to the ground. As a result of Hubbard's behaviour, the divorce complaint continued, the 'plaintiff and her medical advisers . . . concluded that said Hubbard was hopelessly insane, and, crazy, and that there was no hope for said Hubbard, or any reason for her to endure further; that competent medical advisers recommended that said Hubbard be committed to a private sanatarian for pshychiatric observation and treatment of a mental ailment known as paranoid schizophrenia . . .'[18]

Caryl Warner, Sara's flamboyant Hollywood attorney, did his best to ensure the case received maximum publicity. The reporters covering the Divorce Court for the LA Times and the Examiner were both women and early feminists. 'Before the case I made stare they knew what a bastard this guy Hubbard was,' said Warner. 'I told them he was a sadist, that he'd kept his wife awake for days and burned her with cigarettes and that he was crazy, crazy like a fox. They could hardly wait for me to file the complaint.

'I liked Sara and Miles a lot. They eventually married and got a house in Malibu and we became friends; I remember they introduced me to pot. I believed Sara absolutely; there was no question about the truth in my opinion. When she first came to me with this wild story about how her husband had taken her baby I was determined to help her all I could. I telephoned Hubbard's lawyer in Elizabeth and warned him: "Listen, asshole, if you don't get that baby back I'm going to burn you."'[19]

The first singe was inflicted by the damaging headlines in newspapers across the country the day after the kidnapping complaint was filed on 11 April. (The only unforeseen setback to Warner's carefully laid plans was that President Harry S. Truman inconveniently chose the same day to sack General Douglas MacArthur for insubordination in Korea and thus rather hogged the front page.) The divorce itself received more extensive coverage and was better handled: the pictures of Sara smiling broadly were replaced by pictures of her weeping pitifully and being comforted by her attorney.

In Cuba, Hubbard's condition regressed. 'I think what really caught up with him,' said de Mille, 'was that he felt he was losing control of the organization. That's what it amounted to.'

There was no question that Hubbard's fortunes had undergone a radical revision in the twelve months since his emergence as the adored founder of Dianetics. His personal life was in disarray, the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundations in Elizabeth and Los Angeles were disintegrating, most of the money had somehow been frittered away, he was months behind with his second book and he was stuck in Cuba with Alexis and he had no idea what to do with her.

What he needed was a saviour, preferably a saviour with plenty of ready cash. And there was one obvious candidate - Don Purcell, a businessman in Wichita, Kansas. Mr Purcell was not only an enthusiastic Dianeticist, he also happened to be a millionaire.

Towards the end of April, Hubbard sent a telegram to Purcell from Havana saying he needed help. De Mille followed up with a long-distance telephone call urging Purcell to 'do something' because Ron was dying. Purcell acted without delay. He sent a private plane to Cuba with a registered nurse on board to collect Ron and Alexis and bring them back to Kansas. (De Mille had been instructed to stay behind and finish transcribing Ron's plastic recording discs. )

As a follower of Dianetics, Purcell was delighted and honoured to be able to play host to L. Ron Hubbard in Wichita. It was a pleasure that would be short-lived.

1. Interview with Cox and letter to Martin Gardner, 30 April 1952

2. 2. Interview with Ackerman 
3. Cults of Unreason, Christopher Evans, 1973 
4. Interview with A.E. van Vogt

5. Interviews with Barbara Kaye, Los Angeles, 28 July - 5 August 1986 
6. Interview with Perry Chapdelaine, Nashville, 25 April 1986 
7. Winter, op. cit.

8. Letter to Barbara Kaye from Hubbard, 21 Oct 1951 
9. US Govt memo to Director FBI from SAC Newark, 21 Mar 1951

10.Interview with Horner

11. Dianetics and the Professions, A.E. van Vogt, 1953

12. A Factual Report on Dianetics, John W. Maloney, Feb 1952

13. Interview with Richard de Mille, Santa Barbera, 25 July 1986

14. US Govt memo to Director FBI from SAC Chicago, 27 April 1951

15. Letter in FBI files, 10 Mar 1951

16. US Govt memo 62-116151-70, 7 Mar 1952 
17. Letter in FBI files, 10 Mar 1951

18. Airgram to Legal Attaché, Havana, 27 April 1951

19. Divorce complaint No. D414498, 23 April 1951, Los Angeles Superior Court

20. Interview with Caryl Warner, Hollywood, August 1986

Bare-Faced Messiah Chapter 11 Bankrolling and Bankruptcy

The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard is a posthumous biography of Scientology founder
L. Ron Hubbard by British journalist Russell Miller. Originally published: 26 October1987 Author: Russell Miller, Genre: Biography, Page count: 380, Publisher: Michael Joseph, Subject: L. Ron Hubbard

'The money and glory inherent in Dianetics was entirely too much for those with whom I had the bad misfortune to associate myself . . . including a woman who had represented herself as my wife and who had been cured of severe psychosis by Dianetics, but who, because of structural brain damage would evidently never be entirely sane . . . Two of the early associates, John W. Campbell and J.A. Winter, became bitter and violent because I refused to let them write on the subject of Dianetics, for I considered their knowledge too slight and their own aberrations too broad to permit such a liberty with the science . . . Fur coats, Lincoln cars and a young man without any concept of honor so far turned the head of the woman who had been associated with me that on discovery of her affairs, she and these others, hungry for money and power, sought to take over and control all of Dianetics.' (L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics: Axioms, October 1951)

(Scientology's account of the years 1951-52.)

*   *   *   *   *

Don Purcell was a shy, unassuming man who was once a short-order chef in a little fourteen-stool café opposite the Orpheum Theater in downtown Wichita before he made his fortune in oil and real estate during the post-war boom. Very tall and thin - he was usually described as all 'skin and bones' - he turned to Dianetics in the hope of finding a cure for his chronic constipation.[1]

He attended an auditor's course at Elizabeth with his wife in the autumn of 1950 and returned to Wichita brimming with enthusiasm for the new science. Although he never mentioned if it had eased his constipation, he did frequently claim that Dianetics had given him the ability to work a twenty-two-hour day, which was useful to a real estate developer in Wichita in 1951. The farming town in the heart of the winter wheat belt had been transformed by the arrival of the oil and aircraft industries and it was expanding at a phenomenal rate. Roads, houses, schools, churches, office blocks and factories were being built everywhere. Between 1950 and 1951, the population of Wichita rose by more than 30,000, pushing the figure above 200,000 for the first time.

Purcell's real estate company, Golden Bond Homes, was building 150 houses in the south-west of the city, an ambitious development which put him in the burgeoning ranks of Wichita's post-war millionaires. Yet despite his success and wealth, he never aspired to social prominence in the town; imbued with the quintessential hardworking, god-fearing values of the mid-West, he preferred to remain quietly in the background, perfectly content with his reputation as a businessman of integrity and a good Christian.

Like most early Dianeticists, Purcell was a true believer, both in the efficacy of the science and the genius of its founder. When he heard the Elizabeth Foundation was in difficulties, he immediately offered to 'lend a hand', with both short-term finance and practical business advice. He also provided the funds to set up a branch of the Foundation in Wichita, in a two-storey building sandwiched between Hope's Hamburger Hut and an auto repair firm at 211 West Douglas Avenue, Wichita's main street.[2]

It was, then, entirely to be expected that Purcell would respond unhesitatingly to Hubbard's dramatic plea for help. Ron told him over the telephone from Havana of his plans to set up the headquarters of the Dianetics movement in Wichita and, as far as Purcell was concerned, if the great L. Ron Hubbard chose to make his home in Wichita, it could do the town nothing but good.

Hubbard stepped from Purcell's chartered aeroplane at Wichita airport wearing a lightweight tropical suit and a cream silk Ascot, an item of apparel not often seen in Sedgwick County. Purcell was waiting to greet him, along with a reporter from the Wichita Eagle, to whom Ron delivered a carefully prepared statement designed to appeal to the good folk of Wichita. After Los Angeles and Havana, Wichita might have appeared somewhat lacking in glamour, but Hubbard had the good sense not to make invidious comparisons. 'Dianetics is a pioneer mental science,' he announced, 'therefore it is only natural that we should prefer to centralize where the American pioneering spirit and cultural interests are still high. It is impossible to take Dianetics to every interested person, so we have established our headquarters here where those interested can come to Dianetics.'[3] He also took the opportunity to point out that seventy per cent of insane people throughout the world could be returned to normality with Dianetics. 'Hope for Insane is Claimed for Dianetics by Founder' was the headline in the evening edition.

Hubbard checked into the Broadview Hotel, where Purcell had reserved and paid for a suite for him. Alexis, who was becoming accustomed to a succession of surrogate mothers, remained in the care of the nurse who had looked after her on the plane from Havana. The two men were soon discussing plans for the consolidation of Dianetics in Wichita, plans that would be speedily brought to the attention of the FBI.

On 4 May, 1951, the FBI agent in Wichita received an anonymous letter: 'Investigate No 211 West Douglas, under the "Hubbard Dianetics Research Foundation", they are conducting a vicious sexual racket. There are four women and a larger number of men. If they have moved go after them. They are bad, I know because I am one of the victims . . .' This execrable piece of rumour-mongering was added to Hubbard's FBI file, along with a memo from the special agent in charge in Wichita noting: 'General gossip at Wichita has it that the Los Angeles branch of the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation went broke and the cost of operation in New Jersey necessitated establishing headquarters of the organization in the central United States . . .'[4]

Hubbard did not know he had been accused of running a 'vicious sexual racket', which was probably just as well because he already had so much to worry about that he was finding it exceedingly difficult to give his full attention to the affairs of the Foundation. The main problem, entirely of his own making, was that his private life remained in complete turmoil.

While his first wife was pursuing him for maintenance and he was still involved in a messy divorce from Sara, Hubbard invited his lover in Los Angeles to be his third wife. Almost as soon as he arrived in Wichita he had telephoned Barbara and asked her to join him, following up with a cable: 'DO NOT THINK I SHOULD OFFER YOU ANYTHING LESS HONORABLE THAN MARRIAGE. SHOULD YOU CONSIDER IT I MUST DOUBLY CLARIFY EXISTING STATUS TO BE SURE. WITH ALL MY HEART AND MUCH LOVE. RON.' Barbara realized that Ron remained as paranoid as ever, as a second cable arrived at her Beverly Hills apartment two hours later: 'BETTER KEEP OUR PLANS A CLOSE SECRET AS I DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY WOULD TRY TO DO TO YOU IF THEY KNEW. BE VERY CAREFUL. ALL MY LOVE. RON.'

Barbara had no idea who 'they' were and was understandably concerned about marrying a man accused of bigamy, kidnapping and torture. 'Darling, yo sho is in a mess o' trouble,' she replied by letter. 'Do you dare give me any idea of the sort of future awaiting us? God knows I don't want what could be a wonderful and productive partnership between us to wind up with you in jail or continually on the lam from the law . . .'[5]

While Barbara was pondering Ron's proposal, Sara filed a further complaint in Los Angeles, claiming she had been unable to serve divorce papers on her husband because he had fled to Cuba. To support her petition, she included the letter Hubbard had written to her from Havana and a letter, dated 2 May, that she had received from his first wife in Bremerton. Polly had read about the divorce in the newspapers and felt moved to offer her sympathy. 'Sara, if I can help in any way, I'd like to,' she wrote. 'You must get Alexis in your custody. Ron is not normal. I had hoped you could straighten him out. Your charges probably sound fantastic to the average person, but I've been through it - the beatings, threats on my life, all the sadistic traits which you charge - 12 years of it.'

The newspapers were happy to report this further development in the domestic troubles of the 'mental-movement mogul', as Hubbard was described with laboured alliteration in the LA Times. In Wichita, State Marshal Arthur W. Wermuth was surprised to read that Hubbard had 'fled to Cuba' because he had just read of his arrival in Wichita in the Evening Eagle. Wermuth, who happened to be a well-known local war hero, sent a message to Los Angeles acquainting the authorities with Hubbard's whereabouts. Next day the newspapers reported that the 'missing mental-movement mogul' had been 'discovered' in Wichita by the 'legendary one-man army of Bataan'.

Prompted by the news from Wichita, on 14 May Sara's attorney filed another petition asking for Hubbard's assets in Los Angeles to be placed in receivership. The petition noted that Hubbard had been found 'hiding' in Wichita 'but that he would probably leave town upon being detected'.

Coincidentally, on the same day Hubbard despatched a seven-page letter to the Department of Justice in Washington, clearly seeking revenge against Sara. Even for Hubbard, the rambling, venomous missive was a breathtaking concoction of lies, vituperation and wild allegations rendered all the more dangerous by the rise of McCarthyism.

Describing himself as 'basically a scientist in the field of atomic and molecular phenomena', he accused Communists of destroying his half-million dollar business, ruining his health and withholding material of interest to the US Government. The architect of his misfortune was none other than 'a woman known as Sara Elizabeth Northrup . . . whom I believed to be my wife, having married her and then, after some mix-up about a divorce, believed to be my wife in common law'.

Sara, he stressed, was responsible for breaking up the 'American Institute of Advanced Therapy', an organization he had established in 1949, and the following year she was the primary cause of all the trouble at the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation, along with Art Ceppos, who was '"formerly" a member of the Communist Party' and Joseph Winter, who 'seemed to have Communist connections' and was a 'psycho-neurotic' who had been discharged from the US Army Medical Corps.

Playing the role of fearfully browbeaten husband, he said his 'alleged wife' had caused him to make out a will leaving her shares in the copyrights and Foundations. Later, when he was asleep at his home in New Jersey he was 'slugged'. He had unwisely done nothing about it at the time as he had no witnesses, but his health had been poor thereafter. Arriving in Los Angeles, his wife left their baby unattended in a car and be was arrested for it - 'I could never understand why.'

Much worse was to come. 'On December 5, while asleep in my apartment on North Rossmore in Los Angeles, I was again attacked and knocked out. When I woke I debated considerably about going to the police but was again afraid of publicity for again I did not know who might have done this. It never occurred to me to suspect that my wife had any part in this.

'I had become so ill by January 1st and was so long overdue in writing my second book that I went to Palm Springs. I returned from Palm Springs in late February to find my wife apparently ill, in bad mental condition, and my baby more or less forgotten in a back room of the Los Angeles Foundation. I instantly took steps, what steps I could, to give my wife help. She seemed to recover.

'I was in my apartment on February 23rd, about two or three o'clock in the morning when the apartment was entered, I was knocked out, had a needle thrust into my heart to give it a jet of air to produce "coronary thrombosis" and was given an electric shock with a 110 volt current. This is all very blurred to me. I had no witnesses. But only one person had another key to that apartment and that was Sara.'

Hubbard went on to describe how he had found love letters to his wife from Miles Hollister, a 'member of the Young Communists', and an ominous telegram containing the phrase 'Lombardo should live so long'. Lombardo, he explained, was a name Sara sometimes called him. Then he described how they had plotted to have him committed and how he had tried to get his wife away by taking her to Palm Springs. She consented to go with him, he said, and he had her signed statement to prove it. Sara's real motive in filing for divorce, he claimed, was to get control of the Foundation.

All the attacks she had mounted against him had held up research he was intending to offer to the Government. 'In August 1950 I found out a method the Russians use on such people as Vogeler, Mindszenty and others to obtain confessions. I could undo that method. My second book was to have shown how the Communists used narcosynthesis and physical torture and why it worked as it did. Further, I was working on a technology of psychological warfare to present it to the Defense Department. All that work was interrupted. Each time I tried to write, a new attack was launched.'

Hubbard declared his concern to prevent Dianetics falling into the hands of Communists and appealed for a 'round-up' of the 'vermin Communists or ex-Communists' who were trying to take over the potent forces of the Foundation. He suggested the 'round-up' should start with Sara:

'I believe this woman to be under heavy duress. She was born into a criminal atmosphere, her father having a criminal record. Her half-sister was an inmate of an insane asylum. She was part of a free love colony in Pasadena. She had attached herself to a Jack Parsons, the rocket expert, during the war and when she left him he was a wreck. Further, through Parsons, she was strangely intimate with many scientists of Los Alamo Gordos [Alamogordo in New Mexico was where the first atomic bomb was tested]. I did not know or realize these things until I myself investigated the matter. She may have a record . . . Perhaps in your criminal files or on the police blotter of Pasadena you will find Sara Elizabeth Northrop, age about 26, born April 8, 1925, about 5'9", blond-brown hair, slender . . . I have no revenge motive nor am I trying to angle this broader than it is. I believe she is under duress, that they have something on her and I believe that under a grilling she would talk and turn state's evidence.'

Hubbard made it clear he felt his life was in danger and concluded: 'Frankly, from what has happened, I am not certain I will live through this. If I do not, know that I have only these enemies in the entire world.'[6]

If Hubbard's letter had been a little more moderate and his FBI file not already voluminous, his letter might easily have resulted in Sara's arrest. The 'Red Scare' was at its height and the American people had succumbed to an irrational fear of subversion and disloyalty encouraged by McCarthy, the cold war, Korea, a series of sensational spy trials and the Truman administration's loyalty programme. Many reputations and careers were destroyed by accusations a great deal milder than those levelled by Hubbard against his wife.

But by 1951, Hubbard was well known to the FBI. The opinion of the agent who had interviewed him in Newark that he was a 'mental case' figured prominently in his file, as did Sara's divorce allegations that he was 'hopelessly insane'. It was a diagnosis with which the FBI was inclined to concur and Hubbard's letter was tucked into his file and ignored, no doubt after the filing clerks had had a good laugh.

At the end of May, Barbara Kaye arrived in Wichita, having decided that she would marry Ron. 'If love can break men's hearts it can restore them too,' she had written to him. 'Yours shall be regenerated with my love and it will grow stronger.'

She found a hand-written note from Ron waiting for her at the Broadview Hotel: 'Hello! I am happy you are here! I love you! Ron.'

Its cheery tone encouraged her greatly and she was thus doubly shocked by Hubbard's appearance when he showed up at the hotel soon after she had checked in.

'He had visibly deteriorated both physically and mentally. He was extremely unkempt, like a street person. His fingernails were uncut and his hair was long and stringy; he looked like Howard Hughes in his last days. He talked in a monotone all the time and seemed on the verge of tears; he was obviously clinically depressed. He told me he had borrowed $50 from Purcell to pay for my room but no one was to know I was in Wichita because Purcell had opposed me coming.'

Hubbard took her out to a jewellery store to buy her an engagement ring, but she was already having second thoughts. 'I felt extremely distanced from him because he was so strange, he was like a different person. I began to think I could never marry this man; I was frightened of him.' Next morning, Barbara hurriedly returned to Los Angeles, leaving Hubbard a note saying she didn't want to come between him and his patron.

As the prospective third Mrs Hubbard swept out of town, Sara arrived to parley for the return of Alexis. 'She got the baby back', said Richard de Mille, who had by then joined Hubbard in Wichita, 'by agreeing to let him divorce her and by not saying anything bad about him.'[7]

On 9 June 1951, Sara signed a handwritten statement scrawled on the notepaper of The Hubbard Dianetic Foundation Inc of Wichita agreeing to cancel her receivership action and divorce suit in California in return for a divorce 'guaranteed by L. Ron Hubbard' in mid-June.

Two days later she signed a typed statement categorically retracting the allegations she had made against her husband:

I, Sara Northrup Hubbard, do hereby state that the things I have said about L. Ron Hubbard in courts and the public prints have been grossly exaggerated or entirely false.

I have not at any time believed otherwise than that L. Ron Hubbard is a fine and brilliant man.

I make this statement of my own free will for I have begun to realize that what I have done may have injured the science of Dianetics, which in my studied opinion may be the only hope of sanity in future generations.

I was under enormous stress and my advisers insisted it was necessary for me to carry through an action as I have done.

There is no other reason for this statement than my own wish to make atonement for the damage I may have done. In the future I wish to lead a quiet and orderly existence with my little girl far away from the enturbulating influences which have ruined my marriage.

Sara Northrup Hubbard.

The statement bore all the hallmarks of having been written by Hubbard, even down to the use of one of his own invented words, 'enturbulating'. The English language was insufficiently rich and diverse for Hubbard and he often made up new words to compensate for its inadequacies - to 'enturbulate' was a neologism meaning to 'bring into a confused state'.

On 12 June, Hubbard was awarded a divorce in Sedgwick County Court on the basis of Sara's 'gross neglect of duty and extreme cruelty'. The court agreed to an emergency hearing after Hubbard testified that the breakdown of the marriage had brought about severe damage to his health and peace of mind and he feared that any delay would cause him to 'suffer further nervous breakdown and impairment to health'.[8]

Sara did not give evidence in court. All she cared about was that she was awarded custody of Alexis. Clutching her baby, she caught the first Greyhound bus out of Wichita and out of the life of L. Ron Hubbard.

It did not take Don Purcell long to discover the role Hubbard expected him to play as president of the Hubbard Dianetic Foundation of Wichita - to provide money, uncomplainingly.

Hubbard, the vice-president and chairman, was spending Purcell's money at a prodigious rate. He had moved into a large, comfortably furnished frame house on North Yale opposite the snooty Wichita Country Club and in the heart of a select residential area called Sleepy Hollow. Following Barbara's abrupt departure he hired a comely housekeeper, a lady in her early forties, who very soon succumbed to his advances and as a consequence was summoned to his bed most nights. 'Ron enjoyed women,' explained Richard de Mille. 'He didn't see any point in having an attractive woman around without making use of her.'

At the Foundation on West Douglas, staff were hired and fired arbitrarily as Hubbard's attention and enthusiasm flitted from project to project, from one grandiose scheme to another. He had a fiction writer's gift for dreaming up impressive titles for every venture, even if it only existed as an idea. Thus, courtesy of Hubbard, Wichita was briefly the home of an organization called 'The International Library of Arts and Sciences', which no doubt caused some head-scratching among the local farmers and factory workers.

Five-hundred dollar training courses for Dianetic auditors were run on a continuous basis and although there was still a reasonable number of applicants making their way to Wichita, the excitement of the previous summer had faded away. To thousands of people across America, Dianetics was no more than a passing whim.

A major conference of Dianeticists organized in Wichita at the end of June 1951 only attracted 112 delegates, but Hubbard continued to behave as if the movement was going from strength to strength. Heedless of demand, the Foundation published a never-ending stream of booklets, bulletins and pamphlets on arcane elements of the science - 'Child Dianetics', 'Handbook for Pre-clears', 'Lectures on Effort Processing', etcetera - which piled up at 211 West Douglas despite the best efforts of the staff to press them on to every visitor.

Hubbard's second book, Science of Survival, was published by the Wichita Foundation in August. Dedicated to 'Alexis Valerie Hubbard, For Whose Tomorrow May Be Hoped a World That Is Fit To Be Free,' it delved into metaphysics and reincarnation and elaborated on what Hubbard called the 'tone scale', a device for measuring an individual's emotional state and a key to the interpretation of personality. Hubbard provided a veneer of authority for the book by acknowledging the influence of a long list of philosophers from Aristotle and Socrates, through Voltaire and Descartes, to Freud and Korzybski. But despite their contribution, Science of Survival significantly failed to follow Dianetics on to the New York Times's bestseller list.

For students taking courses at the Foundation, the highlight of the week was the lecture Hubbard delivered every Friday evening. Helen O'Brien, a young woman from Philadelphia who had negotiated a bank loan in order to train as a professional auditor, described the scene: 'He would appear at the back of the crowded hall and walk down the centre aisle to the platform, amid applause. It was well staged. He spoke against a background of rich drapes, bathed in spotlights that set off his red hair and weird, enthusiastic face . . .

'Hubbard was a marvellous lecturer, and he spoke quite frankly then, introducing the soberest and wildest ideas without apology, seeming to share the uproarious delight of some of the members of his audience at his flights of intellectual audacity. His rhetoric had a tempo that usually carried everyone along in at least pseudo acceptance of everything he said, although some of it was far afield of the "science of mental health" which had brought us all together.'[9]

Helen O'Brien soon became a member of Hubbard's 'honour guard', a small group of awed, intensely loyal admirers who considered it the highest privilege to be in Ron's presence. 'It was not like being with a human being,' she said. 'He was shaking with energy and there was a sort of light around him, a cloak of power.

'Sometimes at his house be would play the organ and sing songs he had composed in college. Ron told me quite a bit about his life. He said his father was some sort of conman, a very shadowy kind of character, who he suspected was trying to take over Dianetics. Ron said he'd destroy the whole thing if that happened. He talked a lot about Sara. When she ran off with another man Ron followed them and they locked him in a hotel room and pushed drugs up his nose, but he managed to escape and went to Cuba.

'He was not promiscuous, but he was available sexually. I had sex with him one night. Several of us were working late with him, taking notes and we all went out to a coffee shop. Ron and I left the others there and went up to bed. It was real matter of fact.'[10]

Among the motley collection of well-meaning people who trekked to Wichita in the summer of 1951 was a slim, pretty girl from Houston, Texas, by the name of Mary Sue Whipp. Born in Rockdale, Mary Sue was a nineteen-year-old coed at the University of Texas intent on making a career in petroleum research. She arrived in Wichita with a friend, Norman James, who had read about Dianetics in Astounding and had persuaded her to join him on the course. Blue-eyed and auburn-haired, Mary Sue aroused predictably mixed feelings at the Hubbard Dianetic Foundation. Most of the men liked her; most of the women did not. 'She was a nothing,' said Helen O'Brien sourly. 'Her favourite reading was True Confession.'

It did not take long for Hubbard to register the arrival of this attractive pre-clear from Texas and he took a particular interest in her progress. Mary Sue was flattered by the great man's attention and within a matter of a few weeks she had moved in with him at 910 North Yale, to the fury of the housekeeper, who found herself relegated to more conventional duties. Mary Sue rapidly qualified for her Hubbard Dianetic Auditor's Certificate and joined the staff of the Foundation as an auditor, all thoughts of a career in the petroleum industry abandoned.

Auditing was the major activity at the Foundation, for staff and students alike. Everyone was auditing everyone else and someone, naturally, had to audit Hubbard. This dubious honour was variously bestowed and on one occasion it passed to Perry Chapdelaine, who was working as a research assistant at the Wichita Foundation. 'I assumed I would have to stick rigidly to the techniques we had been taught at the Foundation,' said Chapdelaine, 'but it was very different from what I expected. He just lay down on the bed in his bedroom, closed his eyes and started to talk. I sat on a chair by the bed and snapped my fingers a time or two, like we had been taught, directing him to go back to the earliest moment he could recall but he opened his eyes, glared at me, closed his eyes again and continued talking. He was relating, very vividly, what was happening to him as a clam or a jellyfish, in terms of effort and counter-effort. It was fascinating, but I didn't know what to make of it. I learned then, pretty well, what he meant by research - it was him talking and the auditor listening.

'The problem for many people involved in Dianetics was that they accepted every word Hubbard said as literal truth, rather than a framework around which you could do things. I remember at a lecture one night he told people if they did this or that they would no longer need to wear glasses and that they would be able to throw them away forever. He pointed to a big bowl at the bottom of the steps leading up to the rostrum and at the end of the lecture people were throwing their glasses into this bowl. Don Purcell was one of them.

'Hubbard thought it was a great joke. He told me about it afterwards, making a snide remark about Purcell and describing how he took off his glasses, threw them into the bowl and groped his way out of the lecture hall. Hubbard was laughing that people would do something like that just because of what he said. Of course, it didn't work. Like every one else, Purcell had a new pair of glasses in a couple of days.

'There was no question Hubbard had an extraordinary ability to transmit to other people. He audited me once in his front room in Wichita and it was the one and only time in my life I had a perfect perception of being in embryo. I'll never forget it, it was the most amazing experience of my whole life.'[11]

In August, Hubbard had to submit to the indignity of another medical examination to avoid losing his pension from the Veterans Administration. 'This veteran gives a long history of three years of sea duty,' the examining physician noted in his report. 'It was gathered from what he says that the duty was rather strenuous, his first assignment in 1942 being with a merchant ship which was assigned to transporting troops. Later, he states, he served with escorts in the North Atlantic. On one occasion, in 1942, he fell down a ladder and struck his right hip, but there were no facilities aboard ship and it was necessary for him to go on without any aid . . . He is a writer by profession and states he has some income from previous writing that helps take care of him.'

Hubbard presented his usual laundry list of injuries and ailments, but the doctors could find symptoms for none of them. 'This is a well nourished and muscled white adult', the examination report concluded, 'who does not appear chronically ill.'[12]

Understandably, the VA saw no cause to increase the veteran's pension, but on this occasion the veteran was perhaps not too concerned since Don Purcell was still providing ample funds for his activities, even though their relationship was fraying. It had been agreed between them that Purcell would be responsible for the management and business affairs of the Foundation while Hubbard looked after training, processing and research, but a simple division of responsibility proved to be unworkable.

'Things went along fine for a while, then Ron began to encroach on my territory,' Purcell recorded. 'The more he did this the ornerier I got. Ron established an overhead structure that far exceeded the gross income. I began to hold out for an organizational structure that could exist within its income with the idea of expanding the structure as our income increased. This idea did not satisfy Ron. He kept telling me that I had agreed to pay off all the old debts and underwrite a new start for the Foundation and why didn't I go ahead and do it?'[13]

Purcell's Wichita lawyer, Jean Oliver Moore, was present on many occasions when money was discussed. 'The bills were reaching astronomical proportions,' he said. 'Ron believed one thing should be done and Don another and there was a divergence of opinion. But in the end it had to be a matter of prudent business judgement - the Foundation was losing money hand over fist at a rate faster than Purcell could replace it.'[14]

Money was not the only problem. Purcell and Hubbard were in fundamental disagreement over the issue of 'past lives'. From the earliest days of auditing, pre-clears invited to travel back along the time-track had occasionally progressed beyond birth or conception to previous, often romantic, existences, recalling their adventures as medieval knights or centurions in ancient Rome. It happened to Helen O'Brien, who received the experience of being a young peasant woman in Ireland in the early nineteenth century who was killed by a British soldier when she tried to prevent him raping her.

Hubbard was at first ambivalent about the validity of 'past lives', but by the time he got to Wichita he had embraced the concept so enthusiastically that he showed up for one of his regular Friday night lectures with a dreadful limp; he explained to the audience that he had returned on his genetic time-track to a moment when he was shot in the leg during the Civil War and had not had time to complete 'running' the incident.

Purcell, who was still hoping that Dianetics would achieve academic and professional recognition, considered the notion of 'past lives' to be unscientific and wanted it dropped. Hubbard resented his interference in his 'research' and was anyway disinclined to heed the views of a pragmatic real estate developer. 'Ron's motive was always to limit Dianetics to the authority of his teachings,' Purcell noted. 'Anyone who had the effrontery to suggest that others beside Ron could contribute creatively to the work must be inhibited.' Friction between the two men increased markedly.

Meanwhile, the FBI, ever vigilant, continued to fret about what Hubbard was up to, at the same time displaying a remarkable talent for obfuscation. On 1 October 1951, for example, the FBI office in Kansas City, which apparently did not read newspapers, asked Washington for any information about a school or clinic of 'Dyanetics' operated by an L. Ron Hubbard in Wichita. The reply indicated that the FBI was quite as paranoid about Hubbard as Hubbard was about the FBI. Prominent mention was made of allegations that the activities of the Foundation were of 'particular interest to sexual perverts and hypochondriacs' and that Sara had accused her husband of being 'mentally incompetent'. The file failed to note that she had retracted her accusations.[15]

In November and December, Hubbard played a starring role in FBI communications when he became enthused, temporarily, by an extraordinary enterprise straight from the pages of his own science fiction and smacking faintly of world domination. His idea was to establish an alliance of leading international scientists and to store all the latest scientific research on microfilm in an atom-bomb-proof archive somewhere in Arizona. In this way, he argued somewhat obscurely, individual nations would be denied the technical capacity to wage a nuclear war. Hubbard called the project 'Allied Scientists of the World' [the name of an organisation that had featured in his novel 'The End Is Not Yet'] and chose Perry Chapdelaine to supervise its inauguration.

'Ron telephoned me at three o'clock in the morning and said he needed me real bad,' Chapdelaine recalled. 'I got dressed and went over to his house and we sat in the front room where he told me all about his plan for Allied Scientists of the World. His stated goal was to stop war in the world. He thought with Allied Scientists he could control war and in that way control the world. That was what he wanted, no question.'

Chapdelaine was despatched in great secrecy - 'Hubbard told me to make sure no one knew he was behind it, I've no idea why' - to Denver, Colorado, where the headquarters of Allied Scientists of the World was to be established. His orders were to organize a mass mailing of scientists and technicians who would be informed that they had been awarded fellowships in Allied Scientists of the World in recognition of their scientific achievements and invited to send in annual dues of $25.

The timing could not have been worse. 'Thousands of leaflets went out,' said Chapdelaine, 'but only one or two came back.' Instead, the FBI was deluged with requests from recipients of the mail-shot to investigate the organization as a possible Communist front organization - such was the power of McCarthyism. The FBI soon established that L. Ron Hubbard was behind Allied Scientists: inter-Bureau memoranda now contained the information that 'several individuals' alleged he was 'mentally incompetent' and a report from the Kansas City office noted that he had 'delusions of grandeur'.[16]

When Post Office inspectors began an investigation of Allied Scientists for possible violation of mail fraud statutes, Hubbard beat a rapid retreat and abandoned the venture. But he was, as always, untroubled by trouble. At the Foundation's New Year party, which was held in a Wichita hotel and featured a live orchestra and a floor show, he was the life and soul of the festivities. 'He danced a great deal,' said Helen O'Brien, 'with a light and exact rhythm that was completely without grace. There was something attention-arresting in the way he handled himself. Many almost worshipped him in those days, but there were other individuals who looked at him askance, with something close to fear.'

For Don Purcell, the Allied Scientists fiasco was almost, but not quite, the last straw. According to Chapdelaine, Purcell was 'frantic, almost hysterical' over the ill-starred enterprise. 'He was scared to death that it would reflect on him,' said Chapdelaine. 'He was afraid of what Hubbard might do next.'

With the relationship between the two men at its lowest ebb, it full to lawyers to deliver the final blow. Ever since Hubbard's arrival in Wichita, Purcell had been fending off creditors who had been left in the lurch as, one after another, the original Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundations closed their doors. At one point he had had to lodge an $11,000 bond with the district court to prevent the Wichita Foundation being placed in State receivership.

'During this time,' he noted, 'I was negotiating with attorneys trying to effect a settlement of the State receivership. I purchased all of the accounts involved in the deal and heaved a sigh of relief. The mess was cleaned up.'[17]

His relief was premature. Early in 1952, a court ruled that the Hubbard Dianetic Foundation in Wichita was liable for the very considerable debts of the defunct Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation in Elizabeth, New Jersey. It was a disaster. Purcell, now deeply suspicious that his partner had all along deliberately suppressed the truth about the financial situation in Elizabeth, believed the only option was to file for voluntary bankruptcy.

Hubbard would not countenance such a move, but was outvoted at an emergency meeting of the board of directors held on 12 February. He resigned immediately and announced his intention to establish a 'Hubbard College' on the other side of town. After some discussion, he shook hands on a 'gentlemen's agreement' to continue co-operating with Don Purcell and the Wichita Foundation.

The 'gentlemen's agreement' was worthless, for Purcell had crossed Hubbard and had thus become an enemy to be attacked and harassed at every opportunity. The millionaire got a taste of what lay in store ten days later when, on the day the Foundation filed for bankruptcy, he received a telegram from Hubbard: 'YOU ARE ADVISED THAT A $50,000 BREACH OF FAITH AND CONTRACT SUIT IS BEING FILED AGAINST YOU PURSUANT TO FAILURE TO DISCHARGE CREDITOR OBLIGATIONS AND THAT ANOTHER SUIT FOR BAD MANAGEMENT FOR A SIMILAR AMOUNT IS BEING FILED. I AM SORRY TO BE PRESSED TO THIS EXTREMITY. SORROWFULLY, L. RON HUBBARD.'

The final accounts for the Hubbard Dianetic Foundation of Wichita revealed an income of $142,000 and expenditure of $205,000. Hubbard had received fees amounting to nearly $22,000 while salaries for all the remaining staff only accounted for $54,000. The assets of the Foundation largely comprised copyright of all the tapes, books, techniques, processes and paraphernalia of Dianetics, including the name.

Both Purcell and Hubbard claimed ownership and during the bitter feud that inevitably followed, Hubbard mounted a campaign of vilification against his former partner and took to referring to him as 'that little flatulence'. He accused Purcell of plotting to steal Dianetics and of accepting a $500,000 bribe from the American Medical Association to destroy the movement. Purcell was out of his depth: one day be arrived at the Foundation offices on West Douglas and found that all the address plates for the mailing list were missing. Later James Elliott, a Hubbard aide, admitted 'inadvertently' removing them. (They were kept in three boxes, each two feet long and three feet high and weighing more than twenty-five pounds.) Subsequently a number of taped lectures went missing and when a court ordered the tapes to be returned Purcell discovered every third or fourth word had been erased.[18]

In March, Hubbard took a break from hostilities to marry Mary Sue Whipp, who was by then two months pregnant. To avoid the three-day waiting period required by the state of Kansas, they drove across the state line into Oklahoma where it was possible to be married instantly by a Justice of the Peace. Mary Sue would later provide friends with two versions of the circumstances: one had Hubbard knocking on her door in the middle of night shouting, 'Susie, you're the girl I'm going to marry. Get your things, we're leaving.' In the other, they eloped with her parents in hot pursuit and got a JP out of bed to perform the ceremony, still in his pyjamas.[19]

Back in Wichita, the new Mrs Hubbard assumed partial responsibility for running the Hubbard College, which occupied the second floor of a modern office building on North Broadway. It only stayed in business for just six weeks, but it was long enough for the founder to gather together, by telegram, as many loyal followers as he could find to attend a convention at which he promised to present 'important new material'.

About eighty people turned up for the event, which was held in the banqueting hall of a Wichita hotel. Hubbard first introduced an ingenious little gadget called an E-meter, which he claimed was capable of measuring emotions accurately enough to 'give an auditor a deep and marvellous insight into the mind of his pre-clear'. It was a black metal box with a lighted dial, adjustment knobs and wires connected to two tin cans. He demonstrated how it worked by inviting a member of the audience to hold the tin cans and then pinching him - the needle of the dial flickered in response. Then he asked him simply to imagine the pinch and the needle fluctuated again!

The excitement generated by the E-meter was as nothing compared to Hubbard's next revelation. He had, he said, discovered an entirely new science which transcended the limitations of Dianetics. It was a science of certainty and he already had a name for it - he was going to call it Scientology.

1. Interview with de Mille

2. 2. Diane Lewis research report, Wichita, January 1987 
3. FBI memo, 15 May 1951

3. 4. Wichita Eagle-Beacon, 26 Mar 1983 
5. Interviews with Kaye

6. FBI file, 14 May 1951

7.  Interview with de Mille

8. Case no. A36594, District Court of Sedgwick County, Kansas

9. Dianetics in Limbo, Helen O'Brien, 1966

10. Telephone interviews with Helen O'Brien, Los Angeles, August 1986

11.  Interview with Chapdelaine 
12. Hubbard file, VA archives

13. Dianetics Today, Don Purcell, January 1954 
14. Interview with Moore, Wichita, November 1986

15. US Govt memos, 1 Oct 1951 and 16 Oct 1951 
16. FBI Dn File 100-6136

17. Purcell, op. cit.

18. Hubbard Dianetic Foundation Inc. in Bankruptcy no. 379-B-2, District Court of Kansas 
19. Non-attributable interviews in Los Angeles, August 1986, and Haywards Heath, Sussex, May 1986

Bare-Faced Messiah By  Russell Miller, Chapter 12 Phoenix Rising

The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard is a posthumous biography of Scientology founder

L. Ron Hubbard by British journalist Russell Miller. Originally published: 26 October1987 Author: Russell Miller,

 Genre: Biography, Page count: 380,

Publisher: Michael Joseph, Subject: L. Ron Hubbard

Bare-Faced Messiah By  Russell Miller,Chapter 12 Phoenix Rising

The portly Nibs (second from right) posing with his father and friends in a London garden in the 1950s - the smiles would soon turn to tears when father and son fell out.

'Many awards and honors were offered and conferred on L. Ron Hubbard. He did accept an honorary Doctor of Philosophy given in recognition of his outstanding work on Dianetics and, as an inspiration to the many people . . . who had been inspired by him to take up advanced studies in this field.' (Mission Into Time, 1973)

 (Scientology's account of the years 1952-54.)

*   *   *   *   *

At the beginning of April 1952, Hubbard packed his belongings into the back of his yellow Pontiac convertible and headed out of Wichita on the Kansas Turnpike with his teenage bride of four weeks beside him on the front seat. Their destination, one thousand miles to the west, was Phoenix, Arizona, where loyal aides had already put up a sign outside a small office at 1405 North Central Street, announcing it as the headquarters of the Hubbard Association of Scientologists.

Phoenix was so named because it was built on the ruins of an ancient Indian settlement on the Salt River, which had risen like the legendary phoenix. Hubbard, who had had more than enough of Wichita, could not think of a more appropriate location for the rise of his astounding new science from the still-smoking ruins of Dianetics.

The word Scientology was derived from the Latin scio (knowing in the fullest sense) and the Greek logos (study). Hubbard erroneously believed it to be his own invention: but curiously and coincidentally, almost twenty years earlier in 1934, a German scholar by the name of Dr A. Nordenholz had written an obscure work of philosophical speculation titled Scientologie, Wissenschaft und der Beschaffenheit und der Tauglichkeit des Wissens (Scientology, the Science of the Structure and Validity of Knowledge). It was unlikely, however, that Hubbard was plagiarizing Dr Nordenholz - the book had not been translated into English and Hubbard's knowledge of German was rudimentary.

Hubbard would introduce Scientology as a logical extension of Dianetics, but it was a development of undeniable expedience, since it ensured he would be able to stay in business even if the courts eventually awarded control of Dianetics and its valuable copyrights to 'that little flatulence', the hated Don Purcell. The difference between Dianetics and Scientology was that Dianetics addressed the body, whereas Scientology addressed the soul. With his accustomed bombast, Hubbard claimed that he had 'come across incontrovertible, scientifically-validated evidence of the existence of the human soul'.[1]

To underpin his new science, Hubbard created an entire cosmology, the essence of which was that the true self of an individual was an immortal, omniscient and omnipotent entity called a 'thetan'. In existence before the beginning of time, thetans picked up and discarded millions of bodies over trillions of years. They concocted the universe for their own amusement but in the process became so enmeshed in it that they came to believe they were nothing more than the bodies they inhabited. The aim of Scientology was to restore the thetan's original capacities to the level, once again, of an 'operating thetan' or an 'OT'. It was an exalted state not yet known on earth, Hubbard wrote. 'Neither Lord Buddha nor Jesus Christ were OTs according to the evidence. They were just a shade above Clear.'[2]

Throughout the early summer months of 1952, Hubbard promulgated the theory of Scientology at a series of lectures delivered at the Hubbard Association of Scientologists in Phoenix. He was addressing, for the most part, committed Dianeticists, people who truly believed him to be a genius, and so the audiences tended to be somewhat uncritical. But if validation of the cosmology was needed, it was constantly provided by the 'past lives' which were by now a prominent and fascinating feature of auditing.

Thetans were obviously not restricted to this universe and auditing sessions revealed innumerable accounts of space travel and adventures on other planets very similar to those found in the pages of Astounding Science Fiction, to which the founder of Scientology had so recently been contributing. One report described how a pre-clear had arrived on a planet 74,000 years ago and battled 'black magic operators' who were using electronics for evil purposes. 'He now goes to another planet by spaceship. A deception is accomplished by hypnosis and pleasure implants (rather like opium in their effects) whereby he is deceived into a love affair with a robot decked out as a beautiful red-haired girl . . .'[3]

'Past lives' were further confirmed by the flickering needle of the E-meter, which was enthusiastically adopted as propitious technological support. Invented by a Dianeticist called Volney Mathison, the E-meter was basically a device which measured galvanic skin response - the changes in electrical conductivity of the skin that occur at moments of even quite slight excitement or emotional stress. It proved to be such a useful auditing tool that it would eventually become invested with an almost mystical power to reveal an individual's innermost thoughts. It also provided a useful source of income, for every self-respecting Scientologist wanted to have his own E-meter and the only place to buy them was from the Hubbard Association of Scientologists.

In July, the Scientific Press of Phoenix (another Hubbard enterprise) published a book originally titled What To Audit and later re-named The History of Man. Introduced as a 'cold-blooded and factual account of your last sixty trillion years', Hubbard intended the book to establish the foundations of Scientology and he had no desire to be unduly modest about its potential. With the knowledge gained by Scientology, he wrote in the third paragraph, 'the blind again see, the lame walk, the ill recover, the insane become sane and the sane become saner.'

Even judged by the standards of his science fiction, The History of Man was one of Hubbard's most bizarre works and possibly the most absurd book ever written, although it was treated with great reverence by his followers. An amalgam of mysticism, psychotherapy and pure science fiction, the content invited the derision which was inevitably forthcoming. 'To say it is an astonishing document does not adequately convey the peculiar qualities or contents of The History of Man . . .' one government report[4] noted. 'For compressed nonsense and fantasy it must surpass anything theretofore written.'

In a narrative style that wobbled uncertainly between schoolboy fiction and a pseudo-scientific medical paper, Hubbard sought to explain that the human body was occupied by both a thetan and a 'genetic entity', or GE, a sort of low-grade soul located more or less in the centre of the body. ('The genetic entity apparently enters the protoplasm line some two days or a week prior to conception. There is some evidence that the GE is actually double, one entering on the sperm side . . .') The GE carried on through the evolutionary line, 'usually on the same planet', whereas the thetan only came to earth about 35,000 years ago to supervise the development of caveman into homo sapiens. Thus the GE was once 'an anthropoid in the deep forests of forgotten continents or a mollusc seeking to survive on the shore of some lost sea'. The discovery of the GE (Hubbard hailed every fanciful new idea as a 'discovery') 'makes it possible at last to vindicate the theory of evolution proposed by Darwin'.

Much of the book was devoted to a re-working of evolution, starting with 'an atom, complete with electronic rings' after which came cosmic impact producing a 'photon converter', the first single-cell creature, then seaweed, jellyfish and the clam. This knowledge was important to Scientologists since it enabled them to identify the kind of engrams a GE might have picked up when occupying a prehistoric life form.

Many engrams, for example, could be traced back to clams. The clam's big problem was that there was a conflict between the hinge that wanted to open and the hinge that wanted to close. It was easy to restimulate the engram caused by the defeat of the weaker hinge, Hubbard pronounced, by asking a pre-clear to imagine a clam on a beach opening and closing its shell very rapidly and at the same time making an opening and closing motion with thumb and forefinger. This gesture, he said, would upset large numbers of people.

'By the way,' he warned, 'your discussion of these incidents with the uninitiated in Scientology can cause havoc. Should you describe the "clam" to some one [sic], you may restimulate it in him to the extent of causing severe jaw pain. One such victim, after hearing about a clam death, could not use his jaws for three days.'

After the clam came the 'Weeper' or the 'Boohoo', a mollusc that rolled in the surf for half a million years, pumping sea water out of its shell as it breathed, hence its name. Weepers had 'trillions of misadventures', prominent among them the anxiety caused by trying to gulp air before being swamped by the next wave. 'The inability of a pre-clear to cry,' Hubbard explained, 'is partly a hang-up in the Weeper. He is about to be hit by a wave, has his eyes full of sand or is frightened about opening his shell because he may be hit.' Fear of falling also had its origins in the luckless Weepers, which were frequently dropped by predatory birds.

Progressing along the genetic time-track, evolution arrived at the sloth, which 'had bad times falling out of trees', the ape and the famous Piltdown Man, which was the cause of a multitude of engrams, ranging from obsessions about biting to family problems. These could be traced back to the fact that 'the Piltdown teeth were enormous and he was quite careless as to whom and what he bit.' Indeed, so careless was the Piltdown Man, Hubbard recorded, that he was sometimes guilty of 'eating one's wife and other somewhat illogical activities'.

(Unfortunately for Hubbard, just twelve months after The History of Man was published, the supposed fossil remains of primitive man found in gravel on Piltdown Common in the south of England were exposed as a hoax. The Piltdown Man had never existed. Hubbard was describing engrams caused by GEs occupying a fictitious early life form dreamed up in 1912 by Charles Dawson, the English amateur archaeologist responsible for the Piltdown fraud. )

The History of Man drifted into pure science fiction when Hubbard came to the point of explaining how thetans moved from body to body. Thetans abandoned bodies earlier than GEs, it appeared. While the GE stayed around to see the body through to death, thetans were obliged to report to a between-lives 'implant station' where they were implanted with a variety of control phases while waiting to pick up another body, sometimes in competition with other disembodied thetans. Hubbard revealed that most implant stations were on Mars, although women occasionally had to report elsewhere in the solar system and there was a 'Martian implant station somewhere in the Pyrenees'.

After publication of the epoch-making The History of Man, Hubbard was not of a mind to rest on his dubious laurels. The Hubbard Association of Scientologists and the Scientific Press of Phoenix produced a veritable avalanche of publications during 1952, including another book, Scientology: 8-8008, which appeared only a few months after The History of Man. Continuing his tradition of audacious introductions, the author wrote: 'With this book, the ability to make one's body old or young at will, the ability to heal the ill without physical contact, the ability to cure the insane and the incapacitated, is set forth for the physician, the layman, the mathematician and the physicist.'

Both books were required reading for new Scientologists and were studied as if they were serious scientific textbooks, indicating the extraordinary hold Hubbard was beginning to exert over his followers. Non-Scientologists could never understand how he achieved a position of such omnipotence, but the power he wielded was far from unprecedented. Scientology already exhibited the classic characteristics of a religious sect, offering salvation through secret knowledge and totally dominated by a leader claiming a monopoly over the source of the knowledge. Many such 'manipulationist sects' flourished at different periods of Christian history.[5]

There were also striking parallels between Scientology and the quirkier pseudo-sciences like phrenology, Count Alfred Korzybski's general semantics and 'iridiagnosis', which taught that all physical ailments could be diagnosed through the iris of the eve. Many such pseudo-sciences were built on a structure of the wildest assumptions, yet attracted a devoted following. They were invariably the creation of a single, highly charismatic, individual viewed by his followers as a genius of divine inspiration. Absolute power was vested in the leader, critics were derided, successes loudly trumpeted and failures ignored. Opponents were darkly accused of ulterior motives in wanting to prevent the advancement of the human race - Hubbard's frequent plaint.

While Hubbard was writing and lecturing in Phoenix in the summer of 1952, a somewhat unexpected event occurred - his son, L. Ron Hubbard Junior, turned up in town apparently intent on becoming a Scientologist. Nibs was then eighteen years old, a plump young man with a shining, cherubic countenance topped by wispy curls of pale orange hair. He had been living with his grandparents in Bremerton for the previous two years, but had been unable to settle down in high school and had decided to join his father in Phoenix. Mary Sue, preoccupied with her thickening waistline, raised no objection when her husband suggested that Nibs should move in with them, in the modern house they had rented near Camel Back Mountain, on the outskirts of town. And since she was only about a year older than Nibs, she felt under no obligation to be a dutiful stepmother.

Nibs enrolled at a correspondence school in an attempt to complete his high school education and his father gave him a job at the Hubbard Association of Scientologists, at the same time arranging for him to be audited intensively. As the son and namesake of the founder, Nibs was treated with some deference by other Scientologists and made rapid progress in the organization - he was soon designated as 'professor' of the 'Advanced Clinical Course', one of a number of courses on offer to ambitious Scientologists in Phoenix. He also acquired a number of initials after his name to support his professorial status.

In September 1952, Hubbard and Mary Sue left Phoenix for their first visit to Europe. The trip was explained to follow Scientologists somewhat illogically: 'Amid the constant violence of the turncoat Don J. Purcell of Wichita and his suits which attempted to seize Scientology, Mary Sue became ill and to save her life, Ron took her to England.' It was never spelled out why taking Mary Sue to England would save her life; indeed, since she was eight months pregnant it would have been much safer not to travel. But Hubbard wanted to go to London to establish his control over the small Dianetics group which had formed there spontaneously and Mary Sue insisted on accompanying him. The Hubbards' first impressions of London were gloomy. As they drove into the city from the airport, they were shocked by the extent of the bomb damage which they could see from the back of their taxi. The people on the streets seemed drab and dispirited, the shop windows were empty - rationing was still in force - and Hubbard thought there was an air of 'quiet desperation' about the place. He was also quietly desperate himself, having discovered that American cigarettes were unavailable. However, their spirits lifted somewhat when the taxi drew up outside 30 Marlborough Place, Maida Vale, the house that had been rented for them by local Dianeticists. It was a handsome, double-fronted late Edwardian villa with light, airy rooms, not far from Regent's Park and the West End.

Two nights later, Ron and Mary Sue were guests of honour at a welcoming dinner party arranged by a member of the Dianetics group who had an apartment only ten minutes' walk from Marlborough Place. Among the guests was a woman called Carmen D'Alessio who, like most of those present, admitted to being 'totally fascinated' by Dianetics. She was, of course, greatly looking forward to meeting Hubbard, not least because she was hoping that he might be able to cure her of the unexplained attacks of panic she had suffered since she was a child.

'My first impression was of a big, tall man with a highly coloured face and brilliant red hair combed back from a high forehead. He was a very magnetic, powerful man, not really very attractive, but you couldn't ignore him. He dominated the evening, talking about energy, electronics, tractor beams, etcetera. I heard him say he'd been in the Navy and had some trouble with his leg and got the impression he was talking about a war injury.

'After dinner, when we were all sitting around, I told him about my problem and he immediately began to audit me. I was sitting on a sofa against a wall and he told me to do something that would prompt most people to think he was mad, although I thought I knew what he was talking about. What he said to me was, "Be three feet back of your head"- those were his exact words. I thought I would have to go into the wall, or the room behind, but I attempted to do it in my imagination. He gave me quite a long session, with everyone sitting around completely silent, but it did nothing.'

Not long afterwards, Carmen D'Alessio attended Hubbard's introductory lecture at his house in Marlborough Place. 'About 30 or 40 people were foregathered in the sitting-room and when Hubbard walked in it was obvious to me he had a bloody awful cold,' she recalled. 'He had a very high colour, much more so than normal, he was sweating profusely, his eyes were streaming and he kept blowing his nose. He even talked like man with a cold, but he told us that he was suffering from the effect of leaving his body and visiting another planet. While he was advancing across the floor of this other planet, he said, something like a bomb blew up in his face. Everyone was taking it very seriously, but I didn't believe it. I thought, "the man's a thumping liar." I was right. A nurse was living in the house at the time because Hubbard's wife was extremely pregnant. She was a friend of mine and she told me afterwards that he had flu. She'd even given him an injection for it.'

The nurse was soon obliged to direct her ministrations elsewhere: on 24 September, less than three weeks after arriving in London, Mary Sue gave birth to a daughter, Diana Meredith de Wolfe Hubbard. Ron cabled the good news back to Phoenix, adding a terse plea for cigarettes: 'SEND MORE KOOLS.'

Miss D'Alessio, meanwhile, was continuing to be audited by Hubbard, at his instigation, despite an unnerving experience during a second session at Marlborough Place. 'While I was sitting there trying to do what he told me, I suddenly opened my eyes and saw that he was sitting opposite me laughing silently. I didn't like that at all.'

She was disappointed to register no improvement in her condition. 'It seemed quite useless, it wasn't helping at all. Two or three days afterwards I was feeling very disorganized, ragged and out of sorts. Friends kept telling me to ring Ron, but I didn't want to bother him. Eventually someone rang him and he said, "Put her on the line." He gave me a long session over the telephone lasting at least two hours, possibly three.

'At that time he was very interested in energy. He said, "I want you to mock up a small amount of energy, like a little ball and tell me when you have done it." Then he said, "Now blow it up, make it explode." This was going on subjectively in my imagination; I had no difficulty doing it. Then he said, "Now you have exploded it, gather it all together again and reduce it all down to the small ball of energy, make it solid again." I did that and he said, "Now explode it again." That is all the session consisted of.

'After I had been doing this for a while, possibly half an hour, my physical body began to react in an extraordinary way. It began of its own accord to jerk about unintentionally, first quite gently. I told him what was happening and he told me not to worry but continue doing what he told me. The jerking became stronger, almost out of my control. I felt quite frightened, but he remained very calm and gentle. Finally it seemed my body was being flung out of the chair and I had to hold the chair and the telephone with might and main. I could not possibly have made my body do what it was doing, I would have had to have been an acrobat or trained contortionist. I thought my heart was going to burst. My friends sitting in the room watching me were aghast, terrified.

'The explosions, which had become more and more violent, became less violent by degrees and in the end instead of violent explosions of vast energy it was more like a stone thrown into pond sending out ripples. The ripples became very pleasant and as they did so my body calmed down and became quite tranquil, as if I was lying in the sun on a hot day. All around me were beautiful colours like the Aurora Borealis, colours out of this world, very soothing and harmonious and completely restorative. This went on until I felt quite all right and then he said it was the end of the session.'

Hubbard was clearly pleased by the results he had obtained with Carmen D'Alessio and at his next public lecture, in a small hall near Holland Park, he invited her to tell the audience about her experience. Unfortunately, Miss D'Alessio began her account by describing how her heart had nearly stopped and Hubbard hastily interrupted. 'He didn't want me to say any more,' she recalled. 'He never allowed anyone to say anything negative about him.[6]

In October, a British edition of Scientology: 8-8008 was published, with a note about the author from an unnamed editor: 'Some think of his work as the only significant enlargement of the mind since Freud's papers in the late 19th century; others think of it as the Western World's first workable organization of Eastern philosophy. It has been called by two of the leading writers in America: "The most significant advance of mankind in the 20th century" . . . Probably no philosopher of modern times has had the popularity and appeal of Hubbard or such startling successes within his own lifetime.'

At the end of November, Hubbard returned to the United States, with Mary Sue and the baby, to deliver a series of lectures in Philadelphia, where the Scientology franchise was being run by Helen O'Brien and her husband, who paid ten per cent of their gross earnings to Hubbard for the privilege. The O'Briens agreed to pay Hubbard a $1000 fee for the lectures; in addition they arranged a car for his use and rented an ultra-modern terraced apartment at 2601 Parkway, high above River Drive. Hubbard was pleased with it, declared it to be a 'science-fiction writer's dream' and at the same time tried to manoeuvre Helen O'Brien into signing the rental agreement. She knew him too well to be caught out like that. 'I told him, "It's your apartment, you sign the lease,"' she said. 'He was tricky like that.'[7]

Hubbard lectured for a total of seventy hours in Philadelphia to an audience of thirty-eight devotees, speaking without preparation or notes on three evenings and six afternoons each week between 1 and 19 December. Every word was recorded on high-fidelity tapes and later lucratively marketed as the 'Philadelphia Doctorate Course', along with a spiral-bound book of the fifty-four crayon drawings with which he illustrated his talks. Many of the seventy hours were devoted to elaborating the cosmology of Scientology, but he also talked about ways of 'exteriorizing' from the body and demonstrated a new auditing technique called 'creative processing', similar to the 'mock-up' routine he had tried out on Carmen D'Alessio.

'What made it interesting,' said Fred Stansfield, one of the students on the course, 'was the feeling that you were involved in the birth of a new, developing science. It looked like something you could do something with, not just some theory that was utterly useless.'[8]

The only small hiccup in the smooth running of the Philadelphia Doctorate Course occurred on the afternoon of 16 December, when US marshals thundered up the stairs of the Hubbard Dianetic Foundation at 237 North 16th Street, Philadelphia, waving a warrant for the arrest of L. Ron Hubbard. Nibs, who was present and who had inherited something of his father's talent for story-telling, would later talk about an 'incredible Western-style' fight ensuing, with two hundred Scientologists battling on the stairs against FBI agents, US marshals and Philadelphia police.[9]

Helen O'Brien can recall no such mêlée. 'I was on the door so I know what happened. There was no fight. Two detectives in plain clothes and a policeman in uniform came in. I asked them what they wanted and they said, "We are here to arrest Ronald Hubbard". We were always apprehensive about plots to arrest Ron and I ran upstairs and told him what was happening. He went up to the third floor, but there was no escape. One of the students who had only one arm waved his hook at the cops and they backed down a bit, but they said, "We've got a warrant for Hubbard and we are going to take him". My husband and I got in the paddy-wagon with Ron. They fingerprinted him and put him a cell - it was the only time he was ever behind bars. I called my brother, who was a lawyer, and he got Ron out on $1000 bail later that afternoon.'

The cause of this spot of bother was Don Purcell, who was still doggedly pursuing Hubbard through the courts in an attempt to get some of his money back and keep the Wichita Foundation in business. When he heard Hubbard was in Philadelphia, Purcell filed an affidavit in Pennsylvania District Court accusing him of wrongfully withdrawing $9286 from the bankrupt Wichita Foundation. 'Throughout his Dianetic career,' the affidavit noted, 'Hubbard has displayed a fine talent for profiting personally although his firms and institutions generally fail.'[10]

Hubbard was examined before the bankruptcy court on 17 and 19 December, agreed to make restitution and was discharged. Very soon afterwards he flew back to London, where the Hubbard Association of Scientologists International, or HASI, had opened for business in a couple of draughty rooms above a shop in Holland Park Avenue in West London. They were unprepossessing premises for a science offering immortality, but Hubbard was not finding it easy to establish a base for Scientology in Britain. Helen O'Brien received a despairing letter from a friend describing the HASI offices in London: 'There was an atmosphere of extreme poverty and undertones of a grim conspiracy over all. At 163 Holland Park Avenue was an ill-lit lecture room and a bare-boarded and poky office some eight by ten feet, mainly infested by long-haired men and short-haired, tatty women.'

In February 1953, Hubbard decided it was necessary to bolster his status with the phlegmatic British by acquiring some academic qualifications. He knew precisely where they were available - from Sequoia University in Los Angeles. The 'university' of Sequoia was owned by Dr Joseph Hough, a chiropracteur and naturopath who ran a successful practice from a large house in downtown Los Angeles and conferred 'degrees' on whoever he thought merited them. Richard de Mille was awarded a Ph.D. from Sequoia, somewhat to his surprise, for a slim volume he had written under the title An Introduction to Scientology.

On 27 February, de Mille, who was then living in Los Angeles, received an urgent telegram from Hubbard in London: 'PLEASE INFORM DR HOUGH PHD VERY ACCEPTABLE. PRIVATELY TO YOU. FOR GOSH SAKES EXPEDITE. WORK HERE UTTERLY DEPENDANT ON IT. CABLE REPLY. RON.' De Mille found Hough thoroughly agreeable and replied the following day: 'PHD GRANTED. HOUGH'S AIRMAIL LETTER OF CONFIRMATION FOLLOWS. GOOD LUCK.' It was in this way that Hubbard acquired the distinction of appending letters to his name - a mysterious 'Doctorate of Divinity' would follow shortly, along with a 'D. Scn'.

It was clear from correspondence around this time that Hubbard was beginning to ponder the future of Scientology. Few of the franchises in the United States were generating much income and the organization had grown haphazardly into a cumbersome conglomeration of corporations spread around the country and increasingly difficult to control. He was also facing the relentless, if covert, opposition of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. Hoover's agents rarely failed to mention, in answer to inquiries about Hubbard, that his former wife claimed he was 'hopelessly insane'.[11]

At the beginning of March, Hubbard wrote to Helen O'Brien from London and asked her to go to Phoenix, close down the publishing operation and move it to Philadelphia. On the day she arrived, she learned that burglars had broken into Hubbard's house on East Tatem Boulevard, near Camel Back Mountain. She drove out there and found the house had been ransacked. Although she had no way of knowing what had been stolen, she assumed the thieves had been looking for the fabled manuscript of Excalibur. Two guns were certainly missing and she reported their serial numbers to the FBI.

With her usual efficiency, O'Brien packed up the 'communications center', shipped everything to Philadelphia and assumed editorship of the bi-monthly magazine, the Journal of Scientology, which was the primary channel of communication between Hubbard and his followers. In truth, editing the magazine was not too onerous a task, since almost everything was written by Hubbard. (Whenever he wished to discuss his own wondrous work in glowing terms, he signed the articles 'Tom Esterbrook'.)

On 10 April, Hubbard wrote another long letter to Helen O'Brien discussing the possibility of setting up a chain of HASI clinics, or 'Spiritual Guidance Centers'. They could make 'real money', he noted, if each clinic could count on ten or fifteen pre-clears a week, each paying $500 for twenty-four hours of auditing. He had clearly previously discussed the prospect of converting Scientology into a religion. 'I await your reaction on the religion angle,' he wrote. 'In my opinion, we couldn't get worse public opinion than we have had or have less customers with what we've got to sell. A religious charter would be necessary in Pennsylvania or NJ to make it stick. But I sure could make it stick.'

Perhaps inspired by such considerations, Hubbard's next published work bore a distinctly Old Testament flavour. The Factors was a summation of his '30-year examination' of the human spirit and the material universe: 'Factor No. 1: Before the beginning was a Cause and the entire purpose of the Cause was the creation of effect.' At the end of the thirty factors was a valediction reading, 'humbly tendered as a gift to Man by L. Ron Hubbard.'

Three weeks later, the humble tenderer of gifts to mankind was writing to Helen O'Brien in a rather less pious fashion about a particular member of the species who continued to be a thorn in his side - Don Purcell. 'The obvious intention of Purcell is to attack and wipe out by public odium anything and everything he can in Dianetics, thus leaving him, he thinks, with a monopoly on the subject. Sooner or later it is quite obvious that this man . . . who is probably the most hated man in the city of Wichita because of his business dealings, will run up against somebody insane enough to put a bullet through him . . . Patently the man is insane. He has actively refused processing many times. He's about as safe to have around as a mad dog . . . The only surprising part of all this is that the American public by their attention to Purcell and what he says, demonstrates their complete incompetence and their desire to be swindled.'

At the end of May, Hubbard announced his intention to stir up some interest in Scientology on the continent and he left London for Spain by car, with Many Sue, who had recently discovered she was pregnant again, and baby Diana, then eight months old. They stayed first in Sitges, a small resort on the Mediterranean coast, then drove further south to Seville. It seems they did little other than enjoy an extended holiday, although Helen O'Brien, who was virtually running Scientology in the United States, continued to receive long, rambling letters in Hubbard's untidy scrawl.

On 19 July, he wrote nine pages asking her to get one of her 'electronic eager beaver' friends to construct an extraordinary machine with which he believed he would be able to cure insanity. The device was to be disguised as an ordinary briefcase with the trigger incorporated in the lock and it was to be capable of delivering a concentrated supersonic beam alternating approximately between breathing and heart rates, thus inducing hypnosis. He wanted to be able, he said, to walk into a sanatorium with his secret machine, confront an insane patient and make him sane in a few seconds. 'This would mean', he wrote, 'the immediate end of psychiatric resistance to Scientology.' O'Brien was to get the machine made up as a matter of urgency and air-freight it to him in Spain with a spurious explanation of its function for the benefit of the Customs officials.

On 15 August he wrote again, pleading with her to make sure the machine was finished by the time he arrived back in the United States in mid-September. He added that he had been working with children very successfully: 'I can make kids walk in a few minutes who were crippled . . . I can solve any case and teach people to solve any case without failure. I know the mind like a surveyor knows a map. That sets me free, like the genie of the uncorked bottle.'

The 'genie' returned to Philadelphia at the end of September in time to address the three-day International Congress of Dianeticists and Scientologists at the Broadwood Hotel. With more than three hundred delegates attending, the event was a great success, but by this time the organizers, Helen O'Brien and her husband, were exhausted and disillusioned. They had been at Hubbard's beck and call for most of the year, receiving little in return. 'As soon as we became responsible for Hubbard's interests,' Helen O'Brien recorded, 'a projection of hostility began, and he doubted and double-crossed us, and sniped at us without pause.' They had no desire to take it any more and resigned. Helen O'Brien would forever recall her parting, regretful words to Hubbard: 'You're like a cow who gives a good bucket of milk, then kicks it over.'

In October and November, Hubbard lectured to the Hubbard Association in Camden, New Jersey, just actress the Delaware River from Philadelphia. Mary Sue would normally have been present at every lecture, but she was forced by her pregnancy and the endless demands of an active toddler, to spent most of the time at home - yet another rented house, this time at Medford Lakes, about twenty miles from Camden. Nibs, who had recently married his long-time girlfriend, Henrietta, in Los Angeles, came to visit and was given a job in the Camden 'org', a Scientology abbreviation for organization.

The Hubbards returned to Phoenix for Christmas, to the house near Camel Back Mountain, and on 6 January 1954, Many Sue gave birth to her second child, a son, Geoffrey Quentin McCaully Hubbard.

Deprived of the services of Helen O'Brien, Hubbard tried to entice Richard de Mille back into the fold, only to discover that he, too, had become disillusioned. 'I wanted to find the true answer to everything,' de Mille explained, 'but I didn't like all the contradictions and I was becoming more and more sceptical of the whole thing. There was a constant pyramiding of claims, but the performance was always deficient. The answer to the deficiency was that we didn't have a particular step quite right, but now we had another step and this time it's going to be right.

'When Hubbard called me and said, "I miss you. Why don't you come back?" I was somewhat critical and expressed my scepticism. His reaction was typical. "Who's gotten to you, Dick?" he asked. To him, there was no such thing as simply being unconvinced.'

Despite the defections, Scientology prospered in Phoenix, so much so that in April 1954, the HASI moved into sumptuous new premises on a corner site at 1017 North Third Street. Formerly an apartment building, the new headquarters had wide Spanish-style colonnaded porches offering shade from the fierce Arizona sun on both first and second floors. Outside there was a large parking lot lined with palm trees and inside an auditorium with the latest recording facilities, more than twenty auditing rooms, comfortable offices for the executives and a swimming pool. In a brochure printed to celebrate the move, a picture of a beaming L. Ron Hubbard, C.E., D. Scn., D.D. could be found on the inside front cover and a similarly beaming L. Ron Hubbard Jr., H.G.A., D.Scn., on the inside back cover. 'Ten thousand years of thinking men have made this science possible,' the introduction proclaimed. 'L. Ron Hubbard has spent more than 30 years perfecting Dianetics and Scientology to the point of practical application .'

The house at Camel Back, where the Hubbards were enjoying an unaccustomed period of residential stability, became a gathering place for whichever courtiers happened to be in favour at the time. One of them was an Englishman by the name of Ray Kemp, who had no doubt that Hubbard possessed supernatural powers. 'He could certainly move clouds around in the sky,' said Kemp. 'I saw him do that. If there were a lot of little puffy clouds in the sky he could move one in one direction and one in another and then get them to join up. It was nothing particularly special for him; it was just a fun thing to do.'

Kemp liked to say he had found Scientology in a wastepaper basket. He was serving as a Royal Navy radar technician in Malta and was looking for something to read at a dull party when he spotted a discarded copy of Astounding Science Fiction. It was the Dianetics issue. He read it avidly, then bought the book and enrolled for an auditing course at Holland Park Avenue when he was next in London on leave. By 1954 he had made his way to Phoenix, where he was working for the org as an auditor.

'I spent quite a bit of time with Ron and Mary Sue out at Camel  Back. We used to swap war stories and try to cap each other's yarns. He was a wonderful story-teller and he'd make a story fit whatever point he was trying to make. I don't think he ever expected me to take his war stories seriously, although I knew he had been wounded because one night he kept complaining of a pain in his side and when he stood up a little bit of shrapnel fell out from under his shirt. He said it was something that often happened - fragments of shrapnel still in his body were slowly working their way out.

'One of the things he liked to do was ride his motorcycle - he had an Indian, a real monster - out into the desert. He played a game he called point to point. He'd pick a spot on the horizon and go for it, straight as he could, without deviating, regardless of what was in the way, cactus or whatever. Nibs and Dick Steves, from the org, used to chase him on their motorcycles, but Ron's favourite trick was to put up dust devils behind him. That's another thing he could do - manipulate dust devils. He could whip them up and move them around at will. I often saw him do that.'[12]

Ray Kemp exemplified a propensity in Hubbard's disciples to build myths around him. There was also a marked tendency to treat everything he said as gospel, which led to frequent misunderstandings as Hubbard liked to make jokes. Once, during a lecture in Phoenix, he made a crack about a Colt .45 being an 'enormously effective' method of exteriorization. As this ludicrous piece of wisdom was disseminated, a story grew that Hubbard had drawn a gun during the lecture and fired a round into the floor. Nibs swore later that he had seen the hole in the floorboards.

Jack Horner joined the circle close to Hubbard that summer of '54. Like so many of the early Dianeticists he had fallen out with Hubbard, in his case after Hubbard had accused him of fiddling the accounts, but typically he found he could not stay away. He pretended he was in Phoenix to see some friends who were working for the org and naturally ran into Hubbard.

'He asked me what I was doing and I said "teaching school" and he said, "we'll soon fix that" and he began to run a process on me right there and then. He told me to go and touch certain things in the room and then sit down at a desk. Then he said, "Now you go touch them" and I knew exactly what he meant. While I was sitting there I suddenly found myself looking at the underside of the desk. I had a definite, certain reality of myself out of my body. I said "Oh my God, I'm out of my body!" At that point I knew what he meant by exteriorization.

'Later, when I was working for him doing research in Phoenix, I was out at his home late one afternoon with Jim Pinkham, who did all the recording at the org, and someone knocked at the door. Ron went and talked to a guy outside for about five minutes and came back with a big grin on his face. He said the guy at the door wanted to give him a cheque for $5000 for a copy of Excalibur. Then he laughed out loud and said, "One of these days I'll have to get round to writing it." We cracked up. It was the only time Ron ever admitted there was no such book.

'It didn't matter too much to us. From our standpoint at that time Scientology was the only game in town and it was Ron's game. It was like exploring the moon, like being in the space programme, except that we were exploring the mind instead of space. Religion didn't cut it, psychology didn't cut it. If Ron wanted to tell tall stories about himself to make himself look good, so what? We didn't worry a whole lot about it. His genius outflowered his craziness.'[13]

Many of Ron's most fervent admirers, Horner included, found it difficult to include Mary Sue in their devotion. 'I hated her,' said Horner. 'She was a real tight-lipped Baptist. One night I got into a fight with her because she called my girlfriend a whore. I really tore into her verbally and Hubbard threw me out of the house.'

Hubbard would never allow anyone to criticize Mary Sue and although he rarely showed much affection for her in public, it seemed, after two failed marriages and innumerable affairs, that he had at last formed a stable relationship, improbable as it had first appeared. They were indeed an unlikely couple - a flamboyant, fast-talking extrovert entrepreneur in his forties and a quiet, intense young woman twenty years his junior from a small town in Texas. But anyone who underestimated Mary Sue made a big mistake. Although she was not yet twenty-four years old, she exercized considerable power within the Scientology movement and people around Hubbard quickly learned to be wary of her. Fiercely loyal to her husband, brusque and autocratic, she could be a dangerous enemy. She also had a remarkable capacity for motherhood; only four months after Quentin was born, she was pregnant again.

In June, the Hubbard Association of Scientologists International produced an imaginative re-working of Hubbard's biography in a letter to the Better Business Bureau in Phoenix, clearly designed to improve HASI's standing in the town. Much new information was included, not all of it entirely comprehensible.

The mysterious Commander Tompson [sic], for example, was said in the letter to have 'instituted psychoanalysis in the US Navy for use in flight surgery'. A Dr William Alan White, superintendent of St Elizabeth's, a government asylum in Washington, made his debut as someone under whom Hubbard had trained and mention was made of a hitherto unmentioned book: 'In 1947 Hubbard published a book for the Gerontological Society and the American Medical Association called Scientology. A New Science.'

This non-existent publication, it seemed, was 'politely received', but thereafter events had conspired against the scientist-author. Like 'almost any nuclear physicist' be had often written science fiction 'for amusement' and unscrupulous publishers took advantage of this fact. While poor Ron wanted nothing for himself but to be left in peace to continue his study and research, he was pressurized to produce a popular book for Hermitage House, who then 'unwisely' published an article in a pulp magazine. The sorry tale continued with Hubbard constantly being taken advantage of by all and sundry, with everyone but Ron trying to make money out of his discoveries and his wicked estranged wife threatening to stir up a 'great deal of scandal'.

However, the biography had a happy ending in Phoenix in the Hubbard Association of Scientologists - the first organization in the field to be under Hubbard's sole control and therefore untainted by all the previous manoeuvrings. It had established a two-year record of good repute and responsibility, paid its bills promptly 'as any Phoenix business firm with which it deals can attest' and was following a policy of quiet, orderly business. It was soon intending to make Scientology available to the disabled 'as a public service'.

The letter was signed by John Galusha, the secretary of the HASI board of directors. It was, no doubt, written in good faith, for Galusha was a thoroughly decent, deeply committed Scientologist. He had been working on the railroad in Colorado when he first heard about Dianetics and had thrown himself into it wholeheartedly. 'I thought it was a privilege to work for Ron,' he said. 'Maybe he was a charlatan and a liar - I didn't care. The point was that the tech was good. It worked.'[14] The 'tech' was the commonly used contraction for what Hubbard, the engineer, liked to describe as 'the technology' of Scientology.

Galusha did not get to know Hubbard particularly well, but then very few people did. Jack Horner recalled a strange remark Hubbard once made: 'We were out the back of his house and he was draining the radiator of his car because it was going to be unexpectedly cold that night. I said to him, "You know Ron, it would be nice if we could be closer friends." There was a silence for a moment, then he replied, "Yeah, it would be nice, but I can't have any friends."'

For Hubbard, the best news of 1954 came towards the end of the year when he heard from Wichita that Don Purcell was giving up the fight for control of Dianetics. Purcell had tired of the seemingly endless litigation and the constant attacks from Scientologists. He had also became interested in an offshoot of Dianetics called Synergetics and when he decided to devote his future resources to Synergetics he handed the Wichita Foundation's copyrights and mailing lists back to Hubbard, thankful to disentangle himself from the man he had once considered a saviour.

Purcell's retreat could not have come at a more apposite moment. With Dianetics and Scientology at last firmly under his control, Hubbard was ready to follow his own often-voiced advice: 'If a man really wanted to make a million dollars, the best way to do it would be to start a religion.'

1.  What is Scientology?, 1978 ed. 
2. Ability no. 81, 1959 
3. Have You Lived Before This Life?, ed. L. Ron Hubbard, 1968

4.  Report of the Board of Inquiry into Scientology, State of Victoria, Australia, 1965

5.  Religious Sects, Bryan Wilson, 1970

6.  Interview with Carmen D'Alessio, London, Jan. 1986 
7. Interviews with Helen O'Brien 
8. Interview with Fred Stansfield, Burbank, July 1986

9. Evidence of L. Ron Hubbard Jr. at Clearwater hearings, May 1982 
10. Bankruptcy file 23747, Federal Records Center, Philadelphia

10. Letter from office of J. Edgar Hoover to Senator Homer Ferguson, 2 Mar 1953

11. Interview with Ray Kemp, Palomar, CA., Aug 1986

12. Interview with Horner

14. Interview with Galusha, Denver, Colorado, March 1986

Bare-Faced Messiah By  Russell Miller,Chapter 13 Apostle of the Main Chance

The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard is a posthumous biography of Scientology founder

L. Ron Hubbard by British journalist Russell Miller.

Originally published: 26 October1987

 Author: Russell Miller, Genre: Biography, Page count: 380, Publisher: Michael Joseph, Subject: L. Ron Hubbard

Bare-Faced Messiah By  Russell Miller,Chapter 13 Apostle of the Main Chance

Hubbard with his friend Ray Kemp on a two-day trip to Ireland during which he hoped to solve the 'Irish problem'

Hubbard as genial family man. From the left Suzette (4), his wife Mary Sue, Quentin (5), Arthur (1) and Diana (7). All were to suffer in various ways. (Photo Source Ltd)

'A historic milestone in the personal life of L. Ron Hubbard and in the history of Dianetics and Scientology was passed in February 1954, with the founding of the first Church of Scientology. This was in keeping with the religious nature of the tenets dating from the earliest days of research. It was obvious that he had been exploring religious territory right along.' (Mission Into Time, 1973)

(Scientology's account of the years 1953-59.)

*   *   *   *   *

Hubbard had been quietly planning the conversion of Scientology into a religion for more than twelve months, ever since his return from Europe in the autumn of 1953. It made sense financially, for there were substantial tax concessions available to churches, and it made sense pragmatically, for he was convinced that as a religion Scientology would be less vulnerable to attack by the enemies he was convinced were constantly trying to encircle him.

Furthermore, religion was booming in post-war America. All the churches were increasing their membership, there was a new interest in revivalism, epitomized by Billy Graham's spectacular crusades, and even theologians were fostering the concept of the church as integral to contemporary culture, reflected in the popularity of songs like 'I Believe' and epic films like The Ten Commandments. Politicians, too, spoke of 'piety on the Potomac' and President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower declared in late 1952: 'Our government makes no sense unless it is founded on a deeply felt religious faith - and I don't care what it is!' In 1954 Congress boosted the new piety by adding the phrase 'under God' to the pledge of allegiance.

Hubbard was quick to recognize there was a religious bandwagon rolling and equally quick to leap nimbly aboard. In December 1953, he incorporated three new churches - the Church of American Science, the Church of Scientology and the Church of Spiritual Engineering - in Camden, New Jersey. On 18 February 1954, the Church of Scientology of California was incorporated. Its objects, inter alia, were to 'accept and adopt the aims, purposes, principles and creed of the Church of American Science, as founded by L. Ron

Hubbard'. Another Church of Scientology was incorporated in Washington DC and throughout 1954 Hubbard urged franchise holders around the United States to convert their operations into independent churches. Executives of the Hubbard Association of Scientologists International henceforth described themselves as 'ministers', and some of the more flamboyant even took to wearing clerical collars and pre-fixing their names with 'Reverend'.

At the beginning of 1955, Hubbard moved his headquarters from Phoenix to Washington DC, declaring his belief that the church's constitutional rights were safer under the jurisdiction of Federal, rather than State, courts. Travelling with him to Washington was a veritable family entourage, including his heavily pregnant wife and their two small children, his son Nibs and his wife, Henrietta, also pregnant. On Sunday, 13 February, Mary Sue gave birth to a daughter, Mary Suzette Rochelle Hubbard, her third child in rather less than three years of marriage.

The Hubbards moved into a two-storey house in the leafy Maryland suburb of Silver Spring, just outside the Washington DC metropolitan area, and it was from there that Ron resumed his correspondence with the Communist Activities Division of the FBI. On 11 July 1955, he wrote a maundering three-page letter, about Communists and wicked accountants conspiring with renegade IRS agents to destroy him, so inane that the recipient at the FBI scribbled on it a notation 'appears mental'.[1] Thereafter, the FBI no longer acknowledged communications from Hubbard 'because of their rambling, meaningless nature and lack of any pertinence to Bureau interests'.[2] No doubt somewhat to the Bureau's chagrin, Hubbard was not in the least deterred from writing.

Two weeks later, on smart new printed notepaper headed 'L. Ron Hubbard D.D., Ph.D.', he wrote again to say he had received an invitation to go to Russia. It had come from an 'unimpeachable source' who suggested that as he was about to be ruined by the IRS he might as well accept the offer. 'It seems I can go to Russia as an adviser or a consultant and have my own laboratories and receive very high fees. And it is all so easy because it has already been ascertained that I could get my passport extended for Russia and all I had to do was go to Paris and there a Russian plane would pick me up and that would be that.' He did not wish to reveal the name of his contact, he added, 'because he is a little too highly placed on the [Capitol] Hill'.

It seemed Hubbard was able to resist blandishments from beyond the Iron Curtain, for through the sweltering summer months in Washington DC he could be found lecturing at the 'Academy of Religious Arts and Sciences', in a ten-roomed house at 1845 R Street, in the north-west section of the city. He was still maintaining a one-way communication with the FBI and on 7 September, he wrote to complain about the persecution of Scientologists, some of whom he alleged were being mysteriously driven insane, possibly by the use of LSD, 'the insanity producing drug so favoured by the APA [American Psychological Association]'. Another poor wretch, a 'half-blind deaf old man' had been arrested for practising medicine without a licence in Phoenix by a County attorney promising to 'get to the bottom of this thing about Hubbard and Scientology'.

On a personal basis, Hubbard pointed out that it was not uncommon 'to have judges and attorneys mad-dogged about what a terrible person I am and how foul is Scientology . . . All manner of defamatory rumours have been scattered around me, questioning even my sanity . . .'

It certainly was a question in the forefront of the FBI file, although Hubbard was not to know that. He continued: 'I am trying to turn out some monographs on matters in my field of nuclear physics and psychology for the government on the subject of alleviating some of the distress of radiation burns, a project I came east to complete.' He also promised to forward information about the latest brain-washing techniques in Russia.

The horror of 'brain-washing' had been an emotive talking point in the United States ever since the end of the Korean war and the revelation that United Nations prisoners had been brain-washed for propaganda purposes. Timely as always, Hubbard entered the debate by distributing a pamphlet entitled 'Brain-Washing: A Synthesis of the Russian Textbook on Psychopolitics', which he claimed was a transcript of a lecture delivered in the Soviet Union by the dreaded Lavrenty Pavlovich Beria, architect of Stalin's purges.

It was this pamphlet he forwarded in due course to the FBI with a note explaining that it was the Church of Scientology's printing of 'what appeared to be a Communist manual'. The Bureau's Central Research Section examined it and concluded that its authenticity was doubtful, since it lacked documentation of source material, did not use normal Communist words and phrases and contained no quotations from well-known Communist works, as would be expected. Had the Central Research Section been familiar with the works of L. Ron Hubbard, they might have noted certain similarities in the narrative style.

The FBI did not acknowledge receipt of the pamphlet, but this did not dissuade the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation of Silver Spring, Maryland, from mailing the pamphlet to influential individuals and organizations around the country with a covering letter claiming that 'authorization' had been received to release the material after the FBI had been supplied with a copy.

bulletins, casually adding, 'If possible, of course, ruin him utterly.'

In the same bulletin he offered the benefit of his advice to any Scientologists unlucky enough to be arrested. They were instantly to file a $100,000 civil damages suit for molestation of 'a Man of God going about his business', then go on the offensive 'forcefully, artfully and arduously' and cause 'blue flames to dance on the courthouse roof until everybody has apologized profusely'. The only way to defend anything, Hubbard wrote, was to attack. 'If you ever forget that, you will lose every battle you are ever engaged in.'[3] It was a philosophy to which he would adhere ardently all his life.

At the end of September, the Hubbards packed their bags once again, closed the house at Silver Spring and departed the United States with their three young children for another extended visit to London. Hubbard had taken a lease on a large apartment in Brunswick House, a mansion block in Palace Gardens Terrace, a few minutes walk from Kensington Gardens. It became, temporarily, the address of the Hubbard Communications Office, which maintained links with embryonic Scientology groups in other countries (satellite churches had already been established in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand).

Hubbard immediately took over the day-to-day running of the Hubbard Association of Scientologists International, which was still operating from its dreary premises at 163 Holland Park Avenue, although it had grown considerably in size. There was now a full-time staff of twenty auditors, most of them young, like Cyril Vosper, who had been a nineteen-year-old biology student when he first read about Dianetics and was a qualified professional auditor by the time he was twenty.

'I had no doubt that Hubbard's arrival in town was a historic event,' he recalled. 'I believed in him totally, believed he was a genius and was convinced he knew a lot more about the human species and the human condition than anyone else. The only reason I had any slight difficulty in accepting that he was the world's greatest human being was that, to English eyes, he didn't look like a Messiah. He used to wear very brash American clothes - loud check jackets and bootlace ties and brothel-creepers. It wasn't quite the image we expected. But he gave a number of public lectures around town and was interviewed by the media and was pretty well received. The newspapers at that time were quite complimentary, they viewed him as an oddball who might just have come up with something good.

'Ron presided over the staff meeting at the HASI at five o'clock every afternoon. It was all Christian names at the HASI, everyone called him Ron, but there was no doubt he was absolutely in charge. He wouldn't brook any other input: all the books were written by him, all the policy letters were written by him. No one would ever question anything he said or wrote. I had read The History of Man and I knew, as a biology student, that it was a load of bleeding nonsense but I explained it to myself as an allegorical work. In any case, I could never have said to him, "Now listen, Ron, that's just not true." No one would ever have done that.

'One of the things that began to worry me about Ron was that he was unpredictable. He could be very thoughtful and kind one minute and quite hideous the next. We were auditing about 50 hours a week and I remember one afternoon a girl auditor burst into tears when she was telling Ron about a particularly difficult case she had. He put his arm round her and said, "Jenny, anything we can do for this pre-clear is better than doing nothing. She needs help and a bit of attention and that is what you are giving her. Just keep on doing the same thing you're doing and you will resolve it in due course. You can't expect miracles overnight." That struck me as a very humane and comforting thing to say to her. There was no question he had something to contribute in the psychological area. I mean, just to sit down with someone and listen to them for a couple of hours did them good.

'But then I have also seen him behave in a grotesque fashion. One afternoon during a lecture a woman in the audience was coughing rather badly and he walked to the front of the stage, red-faced and visibly angry, and shouted, "Get that woman out of this lecture hall!" She was one of his most fervent supporters and she was also desperately ill - she died three weeks later of lung cancer.'[4]

Aside from occasional temper tantrums, Hubbard considered things were going very well in London. 'I am busy at a headlong rate of speed,' he wrote to Marilyn Routsong, an aide left behind in Washington to keep an eve on his interests, 'really got things rolling off over here. Hope to have some films that will help us before long, and am now dickering around on an international radio'. He ended the letter with a titbit of information that must have made Miss Routsong's nerves tingle: 'Just between ourselves, I actually do have a method of as-ising the atom bomb. Anyway I'm not quite as far away as you think. Love, Ron.'

In the peculiar argot of Scientology, 'as-isness' was a process of making something disappear. What Hubbard was apparently saying was that he was well on the way towards removing nuclear weapons from the face of the earth. However, something must have gone wrong since he would soon be applying his awesome imagination to the problem of dealing with radiation.

The Hubbards' closest friends in London were Ray Kemp, now back home from Phoenix, and his pretty girlfriend, Pam, both of whom worked at the HASI. Hubbard, as a minister of the Church of American Science, performed the ceremony when they married in February 1956, in the lecture room at the HASI, and Mary Sue was Pam's maid of honour. 'Ron and Mary Sue had dinner with us the night before the wedding,' Pam said, 'and Ron told us he had written the ceremony specially for us. He was a very good friend - he even fixed our honeymoon, made arrangements for us to use an apartment in Tangier owned by a friend of his and paid for our air tickets.

'When we got back, we used to see a great deal of them, two or three times a week. Ron would telephone and say, "I'm coming over to dinner and I'm bringing a chicken." Then we would sit up for hours playing Cluedo and the men would start telling stories and there would be lots of laughter. It was a lot of fun - I'd usually end up falling asleep and Mary Sue would go to bed. Their relationship seemed OK, but there never seemed to be a lot of love between them. She was not the affectionate type, she was more efficient than affectionate. They used to have fierce husband and wife domestic arguments.

'We had a big old apartment in Palace Court, Kensington, with a huge living-room with a full-size concert grand in the corner and we used to have parties every night. Ron was always the life and soul, great fun. He loved to dance, play the guitar or ukulele; he was a real actor. He would drag me up to sing with him and then we'd make up rude songs about him and auditing and he would top each verse and roar with laughter and think it was terribly funny. I thought he was always very aware as an individual. He would make a comment about something and he'd invariably be right and I'd look at him and think "How did you know that?"'[5]

At the end of March 1956, Ray Kemp accompanied Hubbard on a trip to Dublin. 'He wanted to see if there was something he could do for Ireland,' Kemp explained. 'He felt that Ireland's troubles were based on the fact that it was a bit like a Third World nation and had never been able to apply the skills of its people. We were there for two or three days and he spent the whole time talking to people. We'd be walking down the street and all of a sudden he wasn't there. I'd look back and see him deep in conversation with someone, asking them if they had a job, what their skills were, things like that. Believe it or not, he'd actually run a little process on them there and then and they'd feel better and he'd walk away. His idea was to open a Personal Efficiency Foundation in Dublin to teach people how to apply whatever skills they had got, but I don't think anything ever came of it.'

Back in London, Hubbard applied himself to proselytizing for his fledgling church. Never short of ideas, he told Kemp to try putting an advertisement in the London evening newspapers with a telephone number and the offer, 'I will talk to anyone about anything.' It instantly tapped the deep well of loneliness which exists in every big city and generated an extraordinary response. 'We were inundated with calls,' said Kemp. 'Everyone from potential suicides to a girl who couldn't decide which of three men to marry.'

So successful was this campaign that Hubbard then tried targeting specific, and potentially vulnerable, groups, starting with the victims of one of the most feared diseases of the 'fifties. The classified columns of the evening newspapers soon began carrying the following, apparently innocuous, advertisement: 'Polio victims. A research foundation investigating polio desires volunteers suffering from the effects of that illness to call for examination . . .' The 'research foundation' followed up with similar advertisements aimed at asthmatics and arthritics.

'Casualty Contact' was another thoroughly distasteful recruiting method advocated by Hubbard. He recommended that ambitious auditors looking for new pre-clears should cut out stories in the newspapers about 'people who have been victimized one way or the other by life. It does not much matter whether that victimizing is in the manner of mental or physical injury . . .' Then they should make a call on the bereaved or injured person as speedily as possible, representing themselves as 'a minister whose compassion was compelled by the newspaper story'.

By the summer of 1956, Scientology was prospering mightily and so, at last, was its founder. Hubbard's gross receipts for the fiscal year ending June 1956 amounted to $102,604 - a handsome income by any standards.[6] His salary from the Church of Scientology was only $125 a week, but he earned commission from the sale of training processes and E-meters, in addition to substantial royalties from his innumerable books. More than sixty books on Scientology by L. Ron Hubbard were in print by this time and a new one was appearing approximately every two months, usually containing new processes and procedures superseding those currently in use.

The church could easily afford the expense of allowing its founder to become an early transatlantic commuter and Hubbard made frequent visits back to Washington during the year, collecting lecture fees on each trip. In November, the Academy of Religious Arts and Sciences (also known as the Academy of Scientology) moved to 1810-1812 19th Street, adjoining grey-brick townhouses with two flights of stone steps leading up to the front door in a tree-lined street of eminent respectability. The Hubbards took a lease on a handsome four-storey brownstone on the other side of the street for their use when they were in Washington.

In March 1957, the Church of Scientology adopted a compensation scheme known as a 'proportional pay plan' under which Hubbard would henceforth receive, in lieu of salary, a percentage of the church's gross income. The effect was dramatic: before the end of the 'fifties the founder of the Church of Scientology would be coining around $250,000 a year, a great deal more than the President of the United States.

By April it seemed that Hubbard had given up his heroic, single-handed attempt to rid the world of nuclear weapons by 'as-ising' the atomic bomb, for in that month he hired the Royal Empire Society Hall in London in order to preside over the 'London Congress on Nuclear Radiation and Health'. The various lectures delivered at this extraordinary event were later condensed into an even more extraordinary book titled All About Radiation and written by 'a nuclear physicist' and 'a medical doctor'.

The doctor was anonymous, but the 'nuclear physicist' was none other than L. Ron Hubbard offering the benefit of his advice with customary scant recourse to the laws of science. He asserted, for example, that a sixteen-foot wall could not stop a gamma ray whereas a human body could, an assertion later described by an eminent radiologist as 'showing complete and utter ignorance of physics, nuclear science and medicine'.[7] In line with his philosophy that most illnesses were caused by the mind, Hubbard avowed, 'The danger in the world today in my opinion is not the atomic radiation which may or may not be floating through the atmosphere but the hysteria occasioned by that question.' Radiation, he added, was 'more of a mental than a physical problem'.

Fortunately, however, no one needed to worry about radiation, since Hubbard had devised a vitamin compound called 'Dianazene' (after his first child by Mary Sue?) which provided protection: 'Dianazene runs out radiation - or what appears to be radiation. It also proofs a person against radiation to some degree. It also turns on and runs out incipient cancer. I have seen it run out skin cancer. A man who didn't have much liability to skin cancer (only had a few moles) took Dianazene. His whole jaw turned into a raw mass of cancer. He kept on taking Dianazene and it disappeared after a while. I was looking at a case of cancer that might have happened.'

The doctor, writing under the pseudonym Medicus, confirmed in his section of the book that 'some very recent work by L. Ron Hubbard and the Hubbard Scientology Organization has indicated that a simple combination of vitamins in unusual doses can be of value. Alleviation of the remote effects and increased tolerance of radiation have been the apparent results . . .'

The Food and Drugs Administration in the United States was inclined, after studying a copy of All About Radiation, to disagree. FDA agents swooped on the Distribution Center Inc, a Scientology company in Washington, seized 21,000 Dianazene tablets and destroyed them, alleging that they were falsely labelled as a preventative treatment for 'radiation sickness'.

In July 1957, Hubbard addressed the 'Freedom Congress' at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington; during the lecture he carried out a christening ceremony for the first time. Its function, he explained, was simply to help get the thetan oriented in its new body and informality was the keynote, as was made evident in a booklet titled 'Ceremonies of the Founding Church of Scientology'. After introducing the child to its parents and godparents, the ceremony proceeded: 'Here we go. (To the child): How are you? All right. Now your name is ---. You got that? Good. There you are. Did that upset you? Now, do you realize that you're a member of the HASI? Pretty good, huh?' Thereafter the parents and godparents were introduced to the child and the ceremony concluded: 'Now you're suitably christened. Don't worry about it, it could be worse. OK. Thank you very much. They'll treat you all right.'

His image as a family man was a pose, since he evinced little interest in his own children. Nibs rarely managed to please his father and his sister, Catherine, then twenty-one, had started working for the organization in Washington but saw little of Hubbard. She married a Scientologist in 1956 which would have pleased her father except he did not like the man; the marriage could not survive his disapproval and she divorced in 1957. Hubbard made no attempts to see Alexis.

The same month as the Freedom Congress, the Central Intelligence Agency opened a file, No. 156409, on L. Ron Hubbard and his organization. CIA agents trawled through police, revenue, credit and property records to try and unravel Hubbard's tangled corporate affairs. It was a task of herculean difficulty, for the Church of Scientology was a cryptic maze of ad hoc corporations. The printed notepaper of the Academy of Scientology gave only a hint of its labyrinthine structure - on the left-hand side of the page was a list of no less than seventeen associated organizations, ranging from the American Society for Disaster Relief to the Society of Consulting Ministers.

Agents traced a considerable amount of property owned either by Hubbard, his wife, son, or one of the daunting number of 'churches' with which they were associated, but the report quickly became bogged down in a tangle of names and addresses: 'The Academy of Religious Arts and Sciences is currently engaged as a school for ministers of religion which at the present time possesses approximately thirty to forty students. The entire course consists of $1500 to $1800 worth of actual classroom studies . . . The public office is located at 1810-12 19th Street N.W. The corporations rent the entire building . . .

'The Hubbard Guidance Center, located at 2315 15th Street, N.W., occupies the entire building which consists of three floors and which was purchased by the SUBJECT Organization. The center also rents farm property located somewhere along Colesville Road in Silver Spring, Maryland, on a short-term lease. The center formerly operated a branch office at 8609 Flower Avenue, Silver Spring, Maryland. In addition to the Silver Spring operation, the center has a working agreement with the Founding Church of Scientology of New York, which holds classes at Studio 847, Carnegie Hall, 154 West 57th Street, New York City. Churches of this denomination number in excess of one hundred in the United States . . .'

One agent was assigned the thankless task of reading through all Hubbard's published work at the Library of Congress in order to gain an 'insight' into Scientology. 'Hubbard's works', he noted glumly, 'contain many words, the meaning of which are not made clear for lay comprehension and perhaps purposely so.'

The District of Columbia Income Tax Division reported that the 'church' had applied for a licence to operate as a religion in Washington DC probably in an attempt to claim tax-free status, and the Personal Property Division reported that it was having difficulty persuading the church to produce its records so that a personal property tax could be levied. Repeated telephone calls had produced nothing but excuses as to why the records could not be produced.

In the end, the CIA file could do no more than chronicle a multitude of vague suspicions; it certainly uncovered no hard evidence of wrong-doing and it revealed curiously little about the remarkable career of the founder of the Founding Church of Scientology. 'Dr Hubbard', it noted simply, 'received a Doctor of Divinity degree in 1954 and throughout his adult career has been a minister.'

The increasingly obvious success of Scientology from 1957 onwards unquestionably prompted federal agencies to keep a closer eye on Hubbard. The Washington Field Office of the FBI, for example, maintained an extensive file which included film and sound recordings as well as photographs and doggedly noted every example of Hubbard's exuberant irreverence to authority.

When the Academy of Scientology delivered twelve thousand feet of film to a Washington laboratory for processing, outraged technicians forwarded it to the FBI for investigation, alleging that the speaker on the film was anti-American. The film covered six one-hour lectures by Hubbard, during which he made a crack about the Government developing the hydrogen bomb in order to 'kill more people faster'.

He also talked about his experience, when 'he was a policeman', in dealing with the criminal mind. 'The FBI thinks there's such a thing as the criminal mind - always a big joke,' he said. 'There's a criminal mind and a non-criminal mind. The FBI have never shown me a non-criminal mind. Of course, these are terrible things to say - simply comments on J. Edgar who is an awfully good guy, stupid, but awfully good.' The Washington Field Office, which perhaps lacked Hubbard's sense of humour, solemnly took note of this analysis of their director and diligently forwarded to him the advice that L. Ron Hubbard thought he was 'stupid'.[8]

Largely unaware of the extent of federal interest in his activities, Hubbard had remained in Washington after the Freedom Congress to lecture on a more permanent basis at the Academy of Scientology. Mary Sue and the children joined him from London and they all moved into the brownstone house on 19th Street. Although she was soon pregnant once more, Mary Sue was appointed 'Academy Supervisor' and remained a powerful figure in the organization. On 6 June 1958, she gave birth to her fourth child - a son, Arthur Ronald Conway Hubbard. Like his other brothers and sisters, Arthur emerged into the world with a wispy topping of bright red hair.

Through most of 1958 Hubbard lectured in Washington at the Academy. In one famous lecture, taped for posterity and marketed for profit, he recounted the colourful 'story of Dianetics and Scientology', interlacing the resumé with anecdotes and jokes, all delivered with a fine sense of timing and generating roars of laughter from an appreciative audience. It was essentially the story of his own life as it had come to be compiled in his mind, with extraordinary adventures tagged on to a slender framework of facts.

'The story starts when I was 12 years old', he began, 'and I met one of the great men of Freudian analysis, Commander Thompson, a great man and explorer. He was a commander in the US Navy. His enemies called him Crazy Thompson and his friends called him Snake Thompson. He was a personal friend of Freud and had no kids of his own. On a big transport on a long cruise he started to work me over. He had a cat by the name of Psycho with a crooked tail. The cat would do tricks and the first thing he did was teach me to train cats . . .'

He continued the story in similar vein. Finding himself in Asia while still a teenager, he discovered he was able to 'operate in the field of Asian mysticism'; in college he was 'never in class' but got through by persuading other students to take his mathematics examinations while he did their psychology papers. It was easy, he said. He simply read the textbooks the night before and sat the exam next morning. During the Prohibition years he knocked around with newspaper reporters and drank bathtub gin acquired from the 'very best gangsters'.

In 1938, having 'associated rather thoroughly with twelve different native cultures, not including the people in the Bronx', he identified the urge to survive as the common denominator of all forms of life. In hospital at the end of the war, 'recuperating from an accumulation of too much wartime Scotch and overdoses of lead', he continued his research. 'I found out that by taking off one collar ornament I became an MD. They don't let anybody in a medical library except doctors but by stopping off with one collar ornament and for a couple of bucks having a marine on crutches come by and say, "Good morning, doctor", I was able to get in a year's study at the medical library.'

After leaving hospital he bought a yacht, took a cruise to the West Indies, then used his wartime back pay to finance further research - 'I went down to the middle of Hollywood, rented an office, wrapped a towel round my head and became a swami.'

Perhaps the most revealing thing Hubbard said about himself during the lecture was a comment on one of Commander Thompson's favourite little aphorisms. It appeared that the Commander used to tell Ron, 'If it's not true for you, it's not true.' It aligned with his own personal philosophy, Hubbard explained, 'because if there is anyone in the world calculated to believe what he wants to believe it is I'. Never did L. Ron Hubbard speak a truer word.

In October, Hubbard flew back to London to preside over a six-week 'Advanced Clinical Course' at HASI's smart new West End offices in Fitzroy Street. Cyril Vosper was one of the students on the course hoping for a Bachelor or Doctorate of Scientology and he noticed a marked change in Hubbard's appearance: 'The flashy American clothes were gone. Now he was wearing grey tweed suits and silk shirts. He looked like a well-dressed professional gentleman and there was a feel of money and class about the whole thing.'[9]

Much of the course, Vosper recollected, was devoted to students investigating each other's past lives. As Hubbard made frequent mention in his lectures of past lives on other planets, with zapp guns, flying saucers, mother ships, galactic federations, repeller beams and suchlike, Vosper reported that many of the past lives excitedly revealed during the course sounded like 'Flash Gordon' adventures.

Nibs, who was one of the instructors, proved to be enormously resourceful in the past lives area. 'When a student was having difficulty in making his past life gel,' said Vosper, 'Nibs would helpfully fill in bits. Students knew that unless they could bring forth a past life with full recall, pain, emotion, full perception, the lot, they would be regarded as something less than real Scientologists. There was a good deal of rivalry as to who could dig up the most notable or extraordinary past life. Jesus of Nazareth was very popular. At least three London Scientologists claimed to have uncovered incidents in which they were crucified and rose from the dead to save the world. Queen Elizabeth I, Walter Raleigh and the venerable Bede were also popular. Funnily enough, I never met anyone who claimed to know anything about Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan or Pontius Pilate.'

Hubbard returned to Washington for Christmas, but in the New Year he began making plans to move back to London with his family. Pam and Ray Kemp wrote to say that they were moving and that their house in North London, on the Finchley Road in Golders Green, would be available if Ron was looking for somewhere to live. The Hubbards - Ron, Mary Sue, Diana, aged six, Quentin, five, Suzette, four and Arthur, eight months - arrived in London at the end of February and agreed to rent the Kemps' house in Golders Green.

'My daughter Suzanne was born on Ron's birthday,' said Pam Kemp. 'Ron came over with a beautiful, bright orange, angora shawl for me. He said everyone brings presents for the baby but everyone forgets it is the mother that has been doing all the work so he was bringing a present for the mother. That was typical of him.

'It was also typical of him that he stiffed us for the rent and he stiffed the greengrocer. Before they moved in, the greengrocer on the other side of the road asked us if he could trust the new tenants and we said "Of course." Ron proceeded to run up a huge bill which he never paid. And he never paid us any rent. We asked him dozens of times for the money. He told us to ask Mary Sue and she always said they didn't have any money.

'Then one day Ron came over on his motorcycle, very excited and pleased with himself. He said, "Guess what I've done?"'[10]

The Kemps were dumbfounded by their friend's news. He announced that he had bought the Maharajah of Jaipur's estate in Sussex.

1. FBI memo, 11 October 1957 
2. FBI memo, 27 February 1957

3 HCO Technical Bulletin, Vol. II, 1955

4. Interview with Cyril Vosper, London, December 1985

5.  Interview with Pam Kemp, Palomar, CA, August 1986 

6. Founding Church of Scientology v. US Court of Claims No. 22-61

7. Report of Board of Inquiry into Scientology, State of Victoria, Australia, 1965

8. FBI Airtel, 7 August 1958

9. Interview with Vosper

10. Interview with Kemp

Bare-Faced Messiah By  Russell Miller, Chapter 14 Lord of the Manor

The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard is a posthumous biography of Scientology founder

L. Ron Hubbard by British journalist Russell Miller.

 Originally published: 26 October1987

 Author: Russell Miller,

Genre: Biography, Page count: 380, Publisher: Michael Joseph, Subject: L. Ron Hubbard

Bare-Faced Messiah By  Russell Miller, Chapter 14 Lord of the Manor

Dr Hubbard, the 'nuclear scientist', on the steps of Saint Hill, the Georgian manor house he bought out of the proceeds of Dianetics. (Photo Source Limited)

Hubbard as 'revolutionary horticultural scientist', proving that plants can feel pain. (Rex Features Ltd)

'My own life is rather dull these days. I sort of won the Maharajah of Jaipur's luxury Sussex estate in a poker game . . .' (Note in the Explorers Log from Dr L. Ron Hubbard, Explorers Journal, February 1960)

(Scientology's account of the years 1959-63.)

*   *   *   *   *

Saint Hill Manor was a Georgian mansion on a landscaped estate two miles from the little market town of East Grinstead in Sussex. The countryside thereabouts was much favoured by the landed gentry in the eighteenth century for the beauty of its verdant, gently rolling hills and its proximity to the court in London, only a few hours away by horse and carriage, and Saint Hill was one of a number of large country houses in the area.

Built for a wealthy landowner in 1733, the manor could not be described as one of the glories of Georgian architecture (indeed, its sandstone façade had a faintly brooding aspect), but it was sufficiently imposing to merit a ballroom with marble columns and grounds of fifty acres with a lake, surrounded by a dense boundary hedge of rhododendrons. By the time it passed into the ownership of the Maharajah of Jaipur, the house boasted eleven bedrooms, eight bathrooms and an outdoor swimming-pool. While the Maharajah spent a considerable sum on interior improvements, including commissioning the artist John Spencer Churchill to paint a mural in one of the first-floor rooms, he only lived in the house intermittently. When the fortunes of the Indian princes wavered after Independence in 1947, he decided to put his English estate on the market and was happy to find a buyer in the unlikely shape of L. Ron Hubbard.

The arrival of an American family at Saint Hill Manor in the spring of 1959 occasioned almost as much excitement in East Grinstead as that of the exotic Maharajah had done some years earlier. Alan Larcombe, a young reporter on the East Grinstead Courier was despatched to interview the new owner and found him to be extremely co-operative, happy to pose for a photograph with his wife and children and more than willing to talk about himself.

'An American and his delightful family find a haven at Saint Hill', the Courier reported in its issue of 29 May 1959. Describing 'Dr Hubbard' as a 'tall, heavily built man whose work for humanity is known throughout the world', Larcombe made no attempt to explain the nature of Dr Hubbard's work, but contented himself with a recap of his subject's career, starting, naturally, with breaking broncos and hunting coyotes on his grandfather's cattle ranch. 'When he inherited his grandfather's cattle estates in Montana and all its debts, he wrote it into solvency, turning his hand to anything: essays, fiction and film scripts.'

The inheriting of his grandfather's insolvent cattle estates was a titbit of information Hubbard had not previously disclosed, as was his revelation that he was deeply involved in the study of plant life. 'The production of plant mutations is one of his most important projects at the moment. By battering seeds with X-rays, Dr Hubbard can either reduce a plant through its stages of evolution or advance it.'

It was, perhaps, inevitable that Hubbard would become an expert gardener the instant he moved into the English countryside and the fact that Saint Hill Manor had well-stocked greenhouses undoubtedly helped fire his interest. But his horticultural experiments also helped divert attention from the real reason he had bought the estate: his intention was that it should become the world-wide headquarters of Scientology. Hubbard surmised, no doubt correctly, that the people of East Grinstead were not quite ready for this piece of information.

In August, the Courier reported that the experiments being conducted at Saint Hill by the 'nuclear scientist, Dr Hubbard' promised to revolutionize gardening. By treating seeds with 'radioactive rays' he was growing tomato plants 16 feet high, with an average of 15 trusses and 45 tomatoes on each truss. He had also discovered that an 'infra-red ray lamp' provided complete protection against mildew, a discovery that was likely to save market gardeners 'thousands of pounds'.

The reporter, again, was Alan Larcombe: 'He showed us some very big tomatoes and I remember thinking at the time that anyone could have grown them that size with fertilizers, but he was very keen we should take a photograph of them, so we did.'[1] The picture the newspaper used was of little Quentin, five years old, standing on duckboards in his father's greenhouse, staring solemnly at the camera through a forest of tomato and maize plants.

Dr Hubbard's experiments soon came to the attention of Garden News, to which publication he revealed, gardener to gardener, his conviction that plants felt pain. He demonstrated by connecting an E-meter to a geranium with crocodile clips, tearing off its leaves and showing how the needle of the E-meter oscillated as he did so. The Garden News correspondent was enormously excited and wrote a story under the sensational headline 'PLANTS DO WORRY AND FEEL PAIN', describing Hubbard as a 'revolutionary horticultural scientist'.[2]

It was not long before television and Fleet Street reporters were beating a path to Saint Hill Manor demanding to interview Hubbard about his novel theories. Always pleased to help the gentlemen of the press, he was memorably photographed looking compassionately at a tomato jabbed by probes attached to an E-meter - a picture that eventually found its way into Newsweek magazine, causing a good deal of harmless merriment at his expense. Alan Whicker, a well-known British television interviewer, did his best to make Hubbard look like a crank, but Hubbard contrived to come across as a rather likeable and confident personality. When Whicker moved in for the kill, sarcastically inquiring if rose pruning should be stopped lest it caused pain and anxiety, Hubbard neatly side-stopped the question and drew a parallel with an essential life-preserving medical operation on a human being. He might have whacky ideas, Whicker discovered, but he was certainly no fool.

Scientologists around the world could have been forgiven for wondering what their beloved leader was up to, but an explanation was soon forthcoming. The purpose of Ron's experiments, they were told, was to 'reform the world's food supply'. He had already produced 'ever-bearing tomato plants and sweetcorn plants sufficiently impressive to startle British newspapers into front-page stories about this new wizardry'.[3]

Soon after Hubbard moved into Saint Hill, the Church of Scientology commissioned a bust of its founder from the sculptor Edward Harris. Harris liked his sitters to talk while he was working and asked his friend, Joan Vidal, to attend the sittings and chat with Hubbard. 'My first impression of him', she said, 'was that with his very pink skin and light red hair he looked like a fat, pink, scrubbed pig. I remember one of the first things he told me was that you could hear a tomato scream if you cut it and that's why he never ate tomatoes. He talked a lot about whether vegetables could feel pain and about all his past lives. It was very entertaining; it was obvious he had a good mind and was widely read.

'After the bust was finished we were invited to dinner with him and his wife at Saint Hill. When we arrived we were met by Mary Sue. She was a rather drab, mousy, nothing sort of person quite a bit younger than him. She showed us into a book-lined study and he waited a few minutes, rather theatrically, before making an entrance. I don't think they had finished work on the house because we had dinner in the kitchen. It was all white tiled, very antiseptic, and the meal was served by a woman wearing a white overall, white shoes and stockings. There was nothing to drink but Coca-Cola or water and the food was awful - we had frozen plaice fillets, a few vegetables and ice-cream, but he had an enormous steak overhanging his plate. It was obvious that everything revolved around him. He was almost like Oswald Mosley, he had the same sort of power. Both of them talked a lot about past lives; they told me that their daughter had previously been a telephone operator who had died in a fire. We didn't stay late and when we got back to Victoria Station Eddie and I were both so hungry that we went in the buffet and had delicious roast lamb sandwiches.'[4]

In October, Dr Hubbard unveiled yet another of his interests. Learning that East Grinstead had been unable to fill a vacancy for a Road Safety Organizer, he volunteered for the job. As he explained to a meeting of the East Grinstead Road Safety Committee, he was anxious to make a contribution to the community and he felt that the experience he had gained serving on 'numerous' road safety committees in the United States could be put to good use in East Grinstead. He gave an interesting talk on road safety campaigns in the United States, put forward many ideas on how to reduce accidents locally, confidently answered questions and was unanimously elected as the town's new Road Safety Organizer by a grateful committee.

He was not able to give road safety considerations his attention for too long, however, for he had arranged to visit Australia in November to lecture the Scientologists in Melbourne. He left London on 31 October, flying first-class on BOAC via Calcutta and Singapore. At the Hubbard Communications Office in Spring Street, Melbourne, he was greeted by an ecstatic crowd of Scientologists who cheered noisily when he announced his belief that Australia would be the first 'clear continent'. Between lectures, he spent hours with local HASI executives discussing ways of persuading the Australian Labour Party and trades union movement to adopt Scientology techniques. Hubbard was convinced that Scientology could help Labour win the next election in Australia, thus creating a favourable climate for the development of the church and neutralizing the unabated hostility of the Australian media.

While he was still in Melbourne, Hubbard received an urgent telephone call from Washington with bad news. Nibs, he was told, had 'blown'. To Scientologists, 'blowing the org' (leaving the church) was one of the worst crimes in the book: it was almost unbelievable that the highly-placed son and namesake of the founder would take such a step. Nibs had simultaneously held five posts in Scientology's increasingly cumbersome bureaucratic structure: he was Organizational Secretary of the Founding Church of Scientology, Washington DC; Hubbard Communications Officer-in-Charge, Washington DC; Chief Advanced Clinical Course Instructor; Hubbard Communications Office World Wide Technical Director; and a Member of the International Council.

Despite his portentous titles, Nibs was frustrated by not being able to make any money out of Scientology and he left a letter to his father explaining that this was the only reason for his resignation: 'Over the past few years, I have found it increasingly difficult to maintain basic financial survival for myself and my family. This I must remedy. I fully realize that I have not handled my financial affairs in the most optimum manner. But for six years I have managed to provide, at least the basic necessities, in some manner. In doing so I have depleted all my reserves and have become deeply in debt . . .'

Hubbard, who was not exactly a pillar of rectitude in fiscal matters, was nevertheless furious with his son. Nibs had been in and out of debt ever since he had first turned up on Hubbard's doorstep in Phoenix. The problem was that he had his father's casual attitude towards money, but none of his talent for making it and none of his luck. In his resignation letter, Nibs said he was going to look for a full-time job, but hoped to be able to continue practising Scientology in his spare time. He failed to take into account the fact that his father would automatically view his defection as an act of treachery. Hubbard would never have allowed Nibs to continue trying to make money out of Scientology. He quickly scribbled an airmail letter to Marilyn Routsong on 25 November: 'Nibs was trying to get more money by loans from us. This may make a field upset but we'll survive. If he goes into practice anywhere or starts up a squirrel activity have HCO cancel all certificates and awards of his. He won't ever be hired back.'

A few days later Hubbard received more, equally unwelcome, family news when his Aunt Toilie telephoned from Bremerton to say that his seventy-four-year-old mother had had a stroke, was very ill and not expected to live. Hubbard had had little contact with his parents, or the Waterbury family, since the end of the war. Toilie was the only one who tried to keep in touch, writing to him once or twice a year, and it fell to her to find Ron when May was taken to hospital. Hubbard told her, over a crackling inter-continental telephone line that he could not get away, he was too busy.

Toilie was quite as forceful a personality as a grey-haired old lady as she had been as a young woman. 'You're coming home,' she told him. 'I want you to catch the next flight out. That is orders, Ron. You owe that much to your mother and I pray to God you get here before she's dead.'

By the time Hubbard arrived in Bremerton, his mother was in a coma. He went in to see her, held her hand and talked to her; he told the family afterwards he was sure she knew he was there. She died the following day. 'Ron didn't stay for the funeral,' said his Aunt Marnie. 'He organized the burial, ordered the stone, paid all the expenses and made arrangements for a man from the Church of Scientology to come up and accompany the body with Hub and Toilie to the funeral in Helena. Then he flew back to England from Bremerton. I thought he should have stayed for the funeral. I don't know what could have been so pressing that he had to get back to England.'[5]

In March 1960, the gentle burghers of East Grinstead learned a little more about their Road Safety Organizer when he published a book titled Have You Lived Before This Life? in which were described a number of startling 'past lives' revealed during auditing. One case history concerned a previous existence as a walrus, another as a fish, a third had witnessed the destruction of Pompeii in AD 79 and a fourth had been a 'very happy being who strayed to the planet Nostra 23,064,000,000 years ago'.

The Courier reported that the book caused a 'storm of controversy' in the town, as might have been anticipated, and Hubbard was prompted to issue a statement seeking to explain something of Scientology: 'Scientific research work on Dianetics and Scientology has been carried out by Dr L. Ron Hubbard, and skilled persons employed by him, over the past 30 years. Only since 1950 has the knowledge gleaned from this exacting and penetrating work into the functions of the mind been released to the general public in the form of special and skilled treatment . . . In connection with Dr Hubbard's book Have You Lived Before This Life? the contents are merely reported from an observer's point of view . . .'

In an internal memo to his press officer, Hubbard stressed the need to emphasize constantly that he was working in the field of 'nuclear physics on life sources and life energy' in order to avoid being tagged as a psychiatrist or spiritualist. 'This will take some doing, perhaps,' he added, in a rare moment of candour.[6]

Hubbard need not have worried overmuch as far as East Grinstead was concerned, since the weather and the Royal Family were topics of much greater perennial interest than whatever was going on at Saint Hill Manor. The cast list of the upcoming, absorbing and long-running British royal soap opera was just being drawn up in spring 1960 - the Queen's third child, Prince Andrew, was born in February and Princess Margaret was due to marry in May. To add a little spice to the conversation in East Grinstead pubs, there was also the forthcoming obscenity trial of D. H. Lawrence's masterpiece, Lady Chatterley's Lover.

This last event was being followed closely by Mary Sue as her husband had recently uncovered a previous life coincidentally revealing her to have been none other than D. H. Lawrence! In a letter to her friend, Marilyn Routsong, Mary Sue explained the considerable problems she had experienced as D. H. Lawrence. It seemed the great writer had difficulty constructing plots, thought poetry was a joke and believed little of what he wrote.

On the strength of this previous incarnation, Mary Sue confessed that she, too, was going to write a book and outlined the plot with a somewhat unpromising grasp of grammar and spelling. She wrote that it would be completely anti-Christ. The first sentence begins 'In the small town of Balei, a bastard child was born.' She then intended to show how he was really a mongrel and the son of three fathers (a joke on the Trinity of God) because the mother had, the night in question, slept with three of the town's most virile men and not knowing whose sperm had reached her womb, had thereupon decided to call him Ali, Son of ----, Son of ----, and Son of ---- which impressed the local inhabitants and created a stir throughout the country. She concluded that she wouldn't have it in her name, for obvious reasons.

In the same letter, Mary Sue mentioned the rumpus that had been caused when Ron ordered all the staff at Saint Hill to be checked out on an E-meter. She noted that three office staff refused and five domestic staff refused. She was surprised and wrote that they were all scared to death of the E-meter and pretending that it was something that would only happen in America, adding that they evidently have something to hide because of their fear to go on the E-meter.[7]

Hubbard's insistence that everyone who worked for him be interrogated on the E-meter was part of the routine 'security checking' he deemed necessary to identify potential trouble-makers, dissidents and spies. No one in Scientology now doubted the capability of the E-meter to expose visceral emotions and ever more elaborate 'sec-checks' would become a common feature of life in the Scientology movement - evidence of Hubbard's persistent paranoia about his enemies, both those that existed in reality and those that thronged his imagination.

Despite the not unreasonable reluctance of some of the servants at Saint Hill Manor to be interviewed about their private lives while grasping tin cans attached to a mysterious electric machine, the Hubbards had settled in comfortably by the spring of 1960. The painters and decorators had finished their work and the family was enjoying the Elysian delights of gracious living in an English country house. On their 'personal staff' there were a secretary, housekeeper, cook, butler, valet, nanny and tutor for the children.

The former billiards room, leading directly from the grand entrance hall, had been re-modelled into Hubbard's private office, with a bench seat upholstered in red leather down one side of the room and a personal teleprinter installed alongside his desk. Also accessible from the hall was the family dining-room, which included a bar stocked with Coca-Cola (Hubbard's preferred drink), a large lounge and a television room. Upstairs, Hubbard had his own suite comprising a sitting-room, bedroom and bathroom, adjoining Mary Sue's office, bedroom and bathroom. The children had bedrooms at the other end of the house and the 'Monkey Room', named after the murals painted by John Spencer Churchill, was converted into a school-room and equipped with trampoline. Apart from the kitchen, most of the remaining rooms in the manor were used as offices.

It was the first time that the Hubbards as a family had remained in one place for any length of time and the children were particularly enchanted by Saint Hill Manor, with its maze of rooms and sweeping grounds. At weekends the four of them could usually be found, muddy-kneed, exploring the estate or paddling in rubber boots on the fringes of the lake; twice a week Diana and Suzette attended dancing lessons at the local Bush Davies school.

Hubbard, too, liked to stroll the grounds at weekends, taking photographs with one or the other of his new cameras. Photography was a recently acquired hobby and his framed pictures could be found in many of the rooms at Saint Hill. Mainly landscapes and portraits, they were of course universally praised, even those that were slightly out of focus.

All in all, visitors to Saint Hill at this time would have observed little amiss with the nice American family who had taken up residence. Certainly no one would have guessed that Hubbard possessed the dubious distinction of being probably the only owner of an English country house under the continuous surveillance of the FBI. His file, Number 244-210-B, was much thumbed and even included an interview with his first wife, Polly, by then re-married, who was able to say very little except that her first husband was a 'genius with a misdirected mind'.

To some extent, the FBI's interest in Hubbard was a situation of his own making, for the frequently intemperate bulletins and policy letters which flowed from Saint Hill in an endless stream for distribution to Scientologists around the world were bound to generate the attention of J. Edgar Hoover's staff. On 24 April 1960, for example, Hubbard issued a bulletin to US franchise holders asking them to do everything in their power to deny the presidency to 'a person named Richard M. Nixon'.

He claimed that after an innocent reference to Nixon in a Scientology magazine, two armed secret service agents, acting on Nixon's orders, had threatened staff on duty at the founding church in Washington: 'Hulking over desks, shouting violently, they stated that they daily had to make such calls on "lots of people" to prevent Nixon's name from being used in ways Nixon disliked . . . They said Nixon believed in nothing the Founding Church of Scientology stood for . . .

'We want clean hands in public office in the United States. Let's begin by doggedly denying Nixon the presidency no matter what his Secret Service tries to do to us now . . . He hates us and has used what police force was available to him to say so. So please get busy on it . . .'

Nixon was indeed denied the presidency, although it was possible that the famous televised debates with John F. Kennedy had more to do with it than the HCO Bulletin. But it was becoming evident that the owner of Saint Hill Manor considered he had an important role to play in political and international affairs and it was a responsibility he had no intention of shirking.

An HCO Bulletin in June promulgated the 'Special Zone Plan - The Scientologists Role in Life', in which Hubbard explained how Scientologists could exert influence in politics. 'Don't bother to get elected,' he wrote. 'Get a job on the secretarial staff or the bodyguard.' In this way positioned close to the seat of power, he argued, Scientology would be advantageously situated to transform an organization. 'If we were revolutionaries,' he added, 'this HCO Bulletin would be a very dangerous document.'

In August, the 'Special Zone Plan' was absorbed into a new 'Department of Government Affairs' made necessary, Hubbard gravely explained, because of the amount of time senior Scientology executives were having to devote to governmental affairs, as governments around the world disintegrated under the threat of atomic war and Communism. 'The goal of the Department', he wrote 'is to bring government and hostile philosophies or societies into a state of complete compliance with the goals of Scientology. This is done by high-level ability to control and in its absence by a low-level ability to overwhelm. Introvert such agencies. Control such agencies.'

Returning to a familiar theme, Hubbard urged his followers to defend Scientology by attacking its opponents: 'If attacked on some vulnerable point by anyone or anything or any organization, always find or manufacture enough threat against them to cause them to sue for peace . . . Don't ever defend, always attack. Don't ever do nothing. Unexpected attacks in the rear of the enemy's front ranks work best .'

The Department of Government Affairs never existed other than as a 'policy letter',[8] but then much of Hubbard's private world only existed on paper. In HCO Bulletins and Policy Letters replete with the trappings of bureaucratic red tape - colour-coded distribution lists, elaborate references, innumerable abbreviations, etc - Scientology flourished as an international organization of enormous influence waiting in the wings to save the universe from the combined perils of Communism, nuclear weapons and its own folly.

Sitting at an electric typewriter in his study at Saint Hill Manor, often clicking away all night just as in the days when he was writing science fiction, Hubbard demonstrated his extraordinary range as a writer by effortlessly producing sheaves of documents that appeared to have been drafted by committees of bureaucrats and lawyers. Laid out and printed like official government papers, they conferred dry authority on content which, frequently, would not have withstood too close scrutiny. But of course no Scientologist would question the literal truth of anything Hubbard wrote, no matter how improbable - if Ron said it was so, it was so.

Hubbard's blossoming omnipotence was bolstered by the stately fashion in which he now travelled, always first-class, usually accompanied by a faithful courtier and greeted at every destination by an awed welcoming party of admirers. In October and November 1960 he visited South Africa to lecture Scientologists in Cape Town and Johannesburg; in December he flew to Washington DC, spent Christmas and the New Year there, returned to Johannesburg to deliver more lectures in mid-January, and arrived back at Saint Hill Manor towards the end of February 1961.

In March, Hubbard announced the launch of the 'Saint Hill Special Briefing Course' for those auditors who wished to train personally under his auspices. The cost of the 'SHSBC' was £250 per person and the first student to enrol was Reg Sharpe, a retired businessman who had become so enamoured with Scientology that he bought a house in the little village of Saint Hill, adjoining the estate, in order to be close to Ron. For the first couple of weeks there were only two students on the course, but more soon began to arrive from around the world, lured by the promise that 'Ron, personally, would discover and assess with the aid of an E-meter' each student's goal 'for this lifetime'.

Mary Sue, who was the course supervisor, also held out the prospect of material rewards: 'I want you to make money. If any one of you cannot conceive of an auditor driving around in a gold-plated Cadillac or Rolls you had better reorientate yourselves. I like the idea.[9]

As the numbers on the Briefing Course increased, accommodation became a problem. The greenhouses where Ron had conducted his pioneering horticultural experiments were demolished to make way for a 'chapel' which in reality was used as a lecture hall. Other buildings went up around the manor without a moment's thought for obtaining planning permission - Hubbard's strongly held opinion was that what he did on his own land was his own business. It was a view the local authority was disinclined to share when someone pointed out what was going on at Saint Hill and Hubbard was eventually prevailed upon to employ an architect and apply for planning approval like everyone else.

The Briefing Course would eventually comprise more than three hundred taped lectures by L. Ron Hubbard, its longevity sustained by 'technical breakthroughs' that followed closely one upon the other, each new technique replacing the last and requiring dedicated Scientologists to trek back to Saint Hill time and time again in order to keep up to date.

When Hubbard was not lecturing he was writing directives covering everything from how to save the world to how to clean his office. No detail was too insignificant to merit his attention: one HCO Policy Letter covering two pages was posted prominently in the garage at Saint Hill explaining how cars should be washed and another was addressed to the Household Section headed 'Flowers, Care Of'. He also dashed off a new potted biography of himself adding further gloss to his already well-burnished career. It was included in a handout headed 'What Is Scientology?':

'For hundreds of years physical scientists have been seeking to apply the exact knowledge they had gained of the physical universe to Man and his problems. Newton, Sir James Jeans, Einstein, have all sought to find the exact laws of human behaviour in order to help Mankind.

'Developed by L. Ron Hubbard, C.E., Ph.D., a nuclear physicist, Scientology has demonstrably achieved this long-sought goal. Doctor Hubbard, educated in advanced physics and higher mathematics and also a student of Sigmund Freud and others, began his present researches thirty years ago at George Washington University. The dramatic result has been Scientology . . .'

The laudable aim of 'helping mankind' sat rather uncomfortably with the requirement for security checks, which were stepped up during 1961. An even more intrusive questionnaire was introduced which appeared to have been designed with perverts and criminals rather than potential trouble-makers in mind. Many of the questions reflected Hubbard's morbid preoccupation with sexual deviation ('Have you ever had intercourse with a member of your family' and 'Have you ever had anything to do with a baby farm?') and a wide range of crimes were also probed ('Have you ever murdered anyone?' and 'Have you ever done any illicit diamond buying?'). In addition Hubbard specifically wanted to know if the individual being checked had ever 'had any unkind thoughts' about himself or Mary Sue. Every check sheet was forwarded to Saint Hill on Hubbard's orders. When combined with the individual folders in which details of auditing sessions were recorded, they made up a comprehensive dossier in which the innermost thoughts of every member of the Church of Scientology were filed.

Three days after Christmas 1961, Hubbard flew to Washington DC to attend a congress and publicize the benefits to be obtained by enrolling in the Saint Hill Briefing Course. He asked Reg Sharpe to accompany him on the trip and Sharpe was very soon made aware of his leader's little foibles. When their aeroplane stopped for re-fuelling at Boston, Hubbard scurried across the passenger terminal and stood with his back pressed against a wall for the duration of the stop, explaining to his bemused companion that there were people 'out to get him'.

In Washington, Sharpe was astonished by the adulation with which Hubbard was received. He lectured for about four hours on each day of the congress to a spellbound audience and had refined his speaking technique to a fine art, shamelessly borrowing the tricks of show business and political conventions. He liked to appear at the back of the hall to the accompaniment of a drum roll and stride through the audience, waving his arms in greeting and shaking hands on the way to the rostrum. His timing, the essence of a good speaker, was faultless and he could hold an entire auditorium in thrall for hours. Like a cabaret artiste doing two spots a night, he got into the habit of changing his clothes during a break, appearing for the second half of his lecture in a silk suit of a different colour, or sometimes a gold lamé jacket. It held the interest of the audience, he explained, and also solved his perspiration problems.

Hubbard's vigorous promotion of Saint Hill as the Mecca of Scientology resulted in hundreds of young Americans making their way to East Grinstead, somewhat to the surprise of the townspeople, who still had very little idea of what was going on. 'Dr Hubbard' had recently adopted a rather lower profile locally: he resigned from his position as the town's Road Safety Organizer, pleading pressure of business, was very rarely seen outside the grounds of Saint Hill Manor and no longer courted publicity from the local newspapers. By and large, the influx of American visitors to the town was welcomed: they were quiet, polite and spent freely. If they were less than forthcoming about what they were doing in the area, that was all right with the locals, who instinctively respected the rights of folk who wanted to 'keep themselves to themselves'.

Members of East Grinstead Urban Council expressed some faint concern inasmuch as Saint Hill Manor was restricted, by planning regulations, to private residential use, but such was Dr Hubbard's reputation that they resolved to do no more than urge him, in confidence, to apply for planning permission regularizing the use of the manor for office and research purposes. He responded by slapping in a planning application to build a seventy-five-room administration centre in the grounds of the manor and circularizing a 'Report to the Community' appealing for support.

In the report, Hubbard revealed to the people of East Grinstead that as a result of his experiments on plants and 'living energies' he was able to reduce the physiological age of an individual by as much as twenty years and increase the average life span by as much as twenty-five per cent. 'We have not announced anything of this to the press,' he confided, 'as we are already overworked in centres of the world for discoveries such as these. But we wanted you as a friend to be aware of this, and consider you have the right to know what is happening here.'

In August, Hubbard turned his attention to the broader arena of international affairs by offering to help President Kennedy narrow the gap in the space race. The young president had committed the United States to landing a man on the moon before the decade was out and, as a loyal American, Hubbard obviously wanted to do what he could to help. On 13 August 1962, he wrote a long letter to the White House to advise Kennedy that Scientology techniques were peculiarly applicable to space flight and that the perception of an astronaut could be increased far beyond human range and stamina to levels hitherto unattained in human beings.

To establish his bona fides, Hubbard claimed to have coached the 'British Olympic team', producing unheard-of results. He added that he had been fending off approaches from the Russians for years, ever since he was offered Pavlov's laboratories in 1938. The first manuscript of his work had been stolen in Miami in 1942, the second in Los Angeles in 1950 and 'only last week' Communist interests had stolen forty hours of tape containing the latest research work from the Scientology headquarters in South Africa.

Although he was convinced that there was a growing library on Scientology in Russia, fortunately the Russians did not yet have the advanced knowledge that would be applicable to the space programme. All the US Government need do, he said, was turn over anyone needing conditioning for space flight and Scientology would do the rest. Each man would need processing for about 250 hours and the cost would only be $25 an hour, with the possibility of a discount for large numbers. 'Man will not successfully get into space without us . . .' he warned. 'We do not wish the United States to lose either the space race or the next war. The deciding factor in that race or that war may very well be lying in your hands at this moment, and may depend on what is done with this letter . . . Courteously, L. Ron Hubbard.'

It seemed that Hubbard seriously expected his offer to receive proper consideration in the Oval Office, for two weeks later he was in Washington discussing with the staff at the Hubbard Communications Office how to handle the expected inflow of astronauts. It was agreed that any dealings with the US Government would be on a cash basis only, that they would reserve the right to reject anyone they considered to be unsuitable and that if Government officials wanted to investigate Scientology techniques they would be told, pleasantly, to 'go up the spout'. If there was a flood of astronauts arriving for processing, Ron would come over from Saint Hill and set up a special operation to handle them.[10]

On the voyage back to England, travelling first-class on the Queen Elizabeth with Reg Sharpe, the two men passed their time auditing each other. Hubbard told his friend that in a past life on another planet he had been in charge of a factory making steel humanoids which he sold to thetans, offering hire purchase terms if they could not afford the cash price.

Back at Saint Hill, Hubbard was baffled to discover that the President had not replied to his letter, but everything was made clear to him a few months later when agents of the Food and Drugs Administration staged a raid on the Scientology headquarters in Washington. It was obvious to Hubbard that the President had asked the FDA to look into Scientology as a result of his letter and the FDA, wishing to promote its own programmes, had attempted to turn the tables on Scientology.

1. Interview with Alan Larcombe, East Grinstead, November 1985

2. Garden News, 18 December 1959 
3. A Piece of Blue Sky, Jon Atack, 1992

4.Interview with Joan Vidal, London, January 1986

5. Interview with Mrs. Roberts 
6. A Piece of Blue Sky, Jon Atack, 1992

7. Letter from Mary Sue Hubbard to Marilyn Routsong, 4 February 1960

8. Interview with George Hay, London, March 1987

9. HCO News Letter, 7 May 1962

10. Minutes of special staff meeting, HCO Washington, 29 August 1952

Bare-Faced Messiah By  Russell Miller, Chapter 15 Visits to Heaven

The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard is a posthumous biography of Scientology founder

L. Ron Hubbard by British journalist Russell Miller.

Originally published: 26 October1987 

Author: Russell Miller, Genre: Biography, Page count: 380,

Publisher: Michael Joseph, Subject: L. Ron Hubbard

Bare-Faced Messiah By  Russell Miller, Chapter 15 Visits to Heaven

The Church of Scientology now apparently refuses to admit the existence of the bulletin; it is no longer included in its otherwise comprehensive lists of Hubbard books and materials, although esoteric material such as 'HCOB 24 Aug - The Marcab Between Lives Implants' is still shown. -- Chris Owen

Hubbard believed he was a reincarnation of Cecil Rhodes and liked to sport the kind of hat worn by the founder of Rhodesia. Fortunately, he did not know Rhodes was homosexual.

'Well, I have been to heaven . . . It was complete with gates, angels and plaster saints - and electronic implantation equipment.' (L. Ron Hubbard, HCO Bulletin 11 May 1963)

(Scientology's account of the years 1963-66.)

*   *   *   *   *

The FDA raid on the Church of Scientology on 4 January 1963, was a farce better suited to the Keystone Cops than a federal agency. Two unmarked vans, escorted by motor-cycle police, screeched to a halt outside 1810-12 19th Street, Washington NW, in the middle of the afternoon and as police blockaded both ends of the quiet residential street, FDA agents and US marshals in plain clothes jumped out of the vans and ran into the building. Passers-by might well have assumed they were after terrorists of the most dangerous order. It would then have been something of a surprise when the brave officers began staggering out shortly afterwards with nothing more menacing than piles of books and papers and stacks of boxed E-meters. Such was the haul that two more trucks had to be called in before the afternoon's work was complete, by which time the FDA was able to announce, with an evident sense of triumph, that it had seized more than three tons of literature and equipment.

The feeble justification for these heavy-handed tactics was unveiled when the FDA filed charges accusing the Church of Scientology of having 'false and misleading' labels on its E-meters. As it would have been perfectly feasible to file a similar charge by purchasing a single E-meter from any Scientology office, the raid exposed the Food and Drug Administration to considerable derision and provided the church with a wonderful opportunity to capitalize on its newly martyred status. FDA agents were portrayed as armed thugs bursting into 'confessional and pastoral counselling sessions' and desecrating the sanctity of a church. Scientology press releases described the raid as a 'shocking example of government bureaucracy gone mad' and a 'direct and frightening attack upon the Constitutional rights of freedom of religion'.[1]

On 5 January, L. Ron Hubbard issued a statement from Saint Hill Manor: 'All I can make of this is that the United States Government . . . has launched an attack upon religion and is seizing and burning books of philosophy . . . Where will this end? Complete censorship? A complete ignoring of the First Amendment? Are churches to be attached and books burned as a normal course of action?'

There had been no suggestion that the material carted away by the FDA would be burned, but that did not prevent Hubbard returning to the theme in a second statement the following day, as well as making the connection between the FDA raid and his letter to President Kennedy. He claimed that 'twice in recent years' the White House had asked for a presentation of Scientology and he had thought it only courteous to make the same offer to Kennedy, not realizing that lesser officials were 'imbued with ideas of religious persecution'. He was still hoping for a conference with the president, he said, slyly alluding to recent events by adding that he would expect to be given some guarantee for his 'personal safety'. Hubbard ended on an almost jocular note: 'As all of my books have been seized for burning, it looks as though I will have to get busy and write another book.'

In fact, 1963 was one of the few years in which Hubbard did not produce a single book. Instead, he chose to remain at Saint Hill issuing increasingly bizarre proclamations. On 13 March - his fifty-second birthday - he bestowed a general amnesty on his followers, in the fashion of some middle-eastern potentate: 'Any and all offences of any kind before this date, discovered or undiscovered, are fully and completely forgiven. Directed at Saint Hill, on March the thirteenth, 1963, in the 13th year of Dianetics and Scientology. L. Ron Hubbard.'

The amnesty was followed in May by the foudroyant revelation that Hubbard had twice visited heaven, 43 trillion and 42 trillion years earlier. In a four-page HCO Bulletin - dated 11 May AD 13 (meaning 'After Dianetics') - he claimed the first visit had taken place 43,891,832,611,177 years, 344 days, 10 hours, 20 minutes and 40 seconds from 10.02pm Daylight Greenwich Mean Time 9 May 1963. Nit-pickers might have pointed out that 'Daylight Greenwich Mean Time' was a term unknown in horology and that, in any case, at 10.02pm on a May evening in Britain it would be dark, but this was a trifling matter compared with what was to come.

The first surprise was that heaven was not a floating island in the sky as everyone imagined, but simply a high place in the mountains of an unnamed planet. Visitors first arrived in a 'town' comprising a trolley bus, some building fronts, sidewalks, train tracks, a boarding house, a bistro in a basement and a bank building. Although there seemed to be people around - in the boarding house, for example, there was a guest and a landlady in a kimono, reading a newspaper - Hubbard quickly discovered they were only effigies and probably radioactive, since 'contact with them hurts'. However, he was able to report he saw 'no devils or satans' [perhaps because he was supposed to be in heaven].

The bank was the key point of interest in the town. It was an old-fashioned corner building of granite-like material with a revolving door. Inside, to the left of the door, was a counter and directly opposite was a flight of marble stairs leading to the Pearly Gates! 'The gates . . . are well done, well built,' Hubbard wrote. 'An avenue of statues of saints leads up to them. The gate pillars are surmounted by marble angels. The entering grounds are very well kept, laid out like Bush Gardens in Pasadena, so often seen in the movies.'

On his second visit to heaven, a trillion years later, Hubbard noticed marked changes: 'The place is shabby. The vegetation is gone. The pillars are scruffy. The saints have vanished. So have the angels. A sign on one side (the left as you "enter") says "this is Heaven". The right has a sign "Hell" with an arrow and inside the grounds one can see the excavations like archeological diggings with raw terraces, that lead to "Hell". Plain wire fencing encloses the place. There is a sentry box beside and outside the right pillar . . .'

Hubbard's visits to heaven would become something of an embarrassment to Scientologists in future years and they would strive to explain that he had intended his description to be allegory, but Hubbard himself attached a note to the bulletin seeming to deny its contents were allegorical.

'This HCO Bulletin', he stressed, 'is based on over a thousand hours of research auditing . . . It is scientific research and is not in any way based upon the mere opinion of the researcher.'[2]

In August, Hubbard turned his attention to more temporal issues by re-defining Scientology policy towards the media. Typically, he did not mince words. Almost all Scientology's bad publicity, he asserted, could be blamed on the American Medical Association, which wanted to cause maximum harm to the movement in order to protect its private healing monopoly. 'The reporter who comes to you, all smiles and withholds, wanting a story,' he said, 'has an AMA instigated release in his pocket. He is there to trick you into supporting his preconceived story. The story he will write has already been outlined by a sub-editor from old clippings and AMA releases . . .'

Hubbard's sensitivity towards newspapers was understandable, since Scientology was an easy target and wherever it flourished it was attacked by a universally unsympathetic press. In Australia, the church had suffered a great deal of unfavourable publicity, in particular from a Melbourne newspaper, Truth, which published a series of hostile features about Scientologists being 'brainwashed' and alienated from their families. The media attacks led to questions in the Parliament of Victoria, allegations of blackmail and extortion, and accusations that Scientology was affecting the 'mental well-being' of undergraduates at Melbourne University. In November 1963, the Victoria government appointed a Board of Inquiry into Scientology.

At Saint Hill Manor, Hubbard at first professed himself to be pleased about the Australian inquiry and even hinted that it bad been set up at his instigation. But it soon became evident that the inquiry was basically antagonistic to Scientology and when an invitation arrived from Melbourne for him to appear, he contrived to find compelling reasons to refuse.

In March 1964, the Saturday Evening Post published what would be one of the last full-scale media interviews with L. Ron Hubbard, even though he would be pursued by reporters for the rest of his life. It was an unusually objective feature, although little new was revealed except for Hubbard's claim that he had recently been approached by Fidel Castro to train a corps of Cuban Scientologists. The founder of the Church of Scientology appeared willing to discuss any subject except money. He was, he said, independently wealthy and drew only a token salary of $70 a week, Scientology being a 'labour of love'.

Certainly the Saturday Evening Post reporter was deeply impressed by Hubbard's lifestyle - the Georgian mansion, the butler who served his afternoon Coca-Cola on a silver tray, the chauffeur polishing the new Pontiac and the Jaguar in the garage, and the broad acres of the estate.[3] But while it might have seemed to a visiting journalist that Hubbard had acquired many of the traditional tastes of an English country gentleman, the reality was very different, as Ken Urquhart, a dedicated young Scientologist who worked as the butler at Saint Hill, explained: 'Neither Ron nor Mary Sue lived the way one might have expected in a house like that. They spent most of their time working; there was very little socializing. They would go to bed very late, usually in the small hours of the morning, and get up in the early afternoon.

'Ron used to audit himself with an E-meter as soon as he got out of bed. When he called down to the kitchen I would take him up a cup of hot chocolate and stay with him while he drank it. He used to sit at a table at the end of his four-poster bed chatting about the news or the weather or the latest goings-on at Saint Hill. I remember he used to talk a lot about his childhood. He seemed to want to give the impression that he was rather upper-class; he liked to use French expressions, for example, although his accent was dreadful. He said his mother was a very fine woman. He told me that when she was in hospital desperately ill he got there just in time to tell her that all she had to do was leave her body and go down to the maternity ward and pick up another one. He didn't say what her reaction was.

'When he went to have a bath I'd extricate myself and rush downstairs to cook breakfast for him and Mary Sue. She had a separate bedroom, but usually had breakfast with him - scrambled eggs, sausages, mushrooms and tomatoes. After breakfast he would go into his office and I would rarely see him again until six-thirty when I had to have the table laid for dinner. At six-twenty-five I would go into his office with a jacket for him to wear to table and after dinner they would spend an hour or so watching television with the children and then he and Mary Sue would return to work in their separate offices.

'I really loved working for Ron; I would have done anything for him. To me he was superhuman, a very unusual, very great person who really wanted to help the world. I was less sure about Mary Sue; I never quite knew where I stood with her. She could be very sweet and loving, but also very cold. The first time I had any contact with her was on the first Sunday I was at Saint Hill. She came into the kitchen where I was preparing dinner and did not say a word to me. I thought that was very strange. She was fiercely protective of her children and I liked them a lot. Arthur had a few problems because he was the youngest and the others wouldn't play with him. Diana was heavily into ballet lessons. They were nice.'

Urquhart was a Scot who had been studying music at Trinity College in London when he was introduced to Dianetics. 'It was as if someone had swept the cobwebs out of my mind,' he said. He was working part-time as a waiter when Ron asked him if he would help out at Saint Hill as a butler. 'I wouldn't have done it for anyone else. I used to cook all the meals, sweep the floors, make the beds, rush around all day long, for £12 a week plus room and board. I was perfectly happy, but things changed quite a bit early in 1965 when "ethics" came in. I was assigned a "condition of emergency" because I served him salmon for dinner that was not quite fresh. I was shocked. You had to go through a whole formula, write it up and submit it with an application to be up-graded.'[4]

'Conditions' were an essential part of the new 'ethics technology' devised by Hubbard in the mid-sixties, effectively as a form of social control. It was his first, tentative step towards the creation of a society within Scientology which would ultimately resemble the totalitarian state envisaged by George Orwell in his novel 1984 . Anyone thought to be disloyal, or slacking, or breaking the rules of Scientology, was reported to an 'ethics officer' and assigned a 'condition' according to the gravity of the offence. Various penalties were attached to each condition. In a 'condition of liability' for example, the offender was required to wear a dirty grey rag tied around his or her left arm. The worst that could happen was to be declared an 'SP' (suppressive person), which was tantamount to excommunication from the church. SPs were defined by Hubbard as 'fair game' to be pursued, sued and harassed at every possible opportunity.

'What happened with the development of ethics,' said Cyril Vosper, who worked on the staff at Saint Hill, 'was that zeal expanded at the expense of tolerance and sanity. My feeling was that Mary Sue devised a lot of the really degrading aspects of ethics. I always had great warmth and admiration for Ron - he was a remarkable individual, a constant source of new information and ideas - but I thought Mary Sue was an exceedingly nasty person. She was a bitch.

'Hubbard had this incredible dynamism, a disarming, magnetic and overwhelming personality. I remember being at Saint Hill one Sunday evening and running into him and as we started to talk people gathered round. People had a wonderful feeling with him of being in the presence of a great man.'[5]

In October 1965, the Australian Board of Inquiry into Scientology published its report. Conducted by Kevin Anderson QC, the inquiry sat for 160 days, heard evidence from 151 witnesses and then savagely condemned every aspect of Scientology. No one needed to progress beyond the first paragraph to guess at what was to follow:

'There are some features of Scientology which are so ludicrous that there may be a tendency to regard Scientology as silly and its practitioners as harmless cranks. To do so would be gravely to misunderstand the tenor of the Board's conclusions. This Report should be read, it is submitted, with these prefatory observations constantly in mind. Scientology is evil; its techniques evil; its practice a serious threat to the community, medically, morally and socially; and its adherents sadly deluded and often mentally ill.'

In many cases, the report continued, mental derangement and a loss of critical faculties resulted from Scientology processing, which tended to produce subservience amounting almost to mental enslavement. Because of fear, delusion and debilitation, the individual often found it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to escape. Furthermore, the potentiality for misuse of confidence was great and the existence of files containing the most intimate secrets and confessions of thousands of individuals was a constant threat to them and a matter of grave concern.

As for L. Ron Hubbard, the report suggested that his sanity was to be 'gravely doubted'. His writing, abounding in self-glorification and grandiosity, replete with histrionics and hysterical, incontinent outbursts, was the product of a person of unsound mind. His teachings about thetans and past lives were nonsensical; he had a persecution complex; he had a great fear of matters associated with women and a 'prurient and compulsive urge to write in the most disgusting and derogatory way' on such subjects as abortions, intercourse, rape, sadism, perversion and abandonment. His propensity for neologisms was commonplace in the schizophrenic and his compulsion to invent increasingly bizarre theories and experiences was strongly indicative of paranoid schizophrenia with delusions of grandeur. 'Symptoms', the report added, 'common to dictators.'

It continued in similar vein for 173 pages, concluding: 'If there should be detected in this report a note of unrelieved denunciation of Scientology, it is because the evidence has shown its theories to be fantastic and impossible, its principles perverted and ill-founded, and its techniques debased and harmful. Scientology is a delusional belief system, based on fiction and fallacies and propagated by falsehood and deception . . . Its founder, with the merest smattering of knowledge in various sciences, has built upon the scintilla of his learning a crazy and dangerous edifice. The HASI claims to be "the world's largest mental health organization". What it really is however, is the world's largest organization of unqualified persons engaged in the practice of dangerous techniques which masquerade as mental therapy.'[6]

It was not difficult to 'detect' a note of unrelieved denunciation in the Anderson report; indeed, in its intemperate tone, its use of emotive rhetoric and its tendency to exaggerate and distort, it bore a marked similarity to the writings of L. Ron Hubbard. In his determination to undermine Scientology, Anderson completely ignored the fact that thousands of decent, honest, well-meaning people around the world believed themselves to be benefiting from the movement. To condemn the church as 'evil' was to brand its followers as either evil or stupid or both - an undeserved imputation.

Bloodied but unbowed, Hubbard began fighting back against the Anderson report on the day of its publication, beginning with a rebuttal written exclusively for the East Grinstead Courier, accusing the Australian inquiry of being an illegal 'kangaroo court' which had refused to allow him to appear in his own defence. Its findings were 'hysterical', he said, and not based on the facts. He compared the inquiry to the heresy trials which had led to witches being burned at the stake in the dark ages.

However, Dr Hubbard - described as 'the son of a Montana cattle baron' - still found it in his heart to be munificent: 'Well, Australia is young. In 1942, as the senior US naval officer in Northern Australia, by a fluke of fate, I helped save them from the Japanese. For the sake of Scientologists there, I will go on helping them . . . Socrates said, "Philosophy is the greatest of the arts and it ought to be practiced." I intend to keep on writing it and practicing it and helping others as I can.'

For his fellow Scientologists, Hubbard had a slightly different message. What had gone wrong in Australia, he explained, was that he had approved co-operation with an inquiry into all mental health services. ('We could have had a ball and put psychiatry on trial for murder, mercy killing, sterilization, torture and sex practices and could have wiped out psychiatry's good name.') Unfortunately, because of bungling somewhere along the line, the inquiry had been narrowed to Scientology only, 'so it was a mess'.

He laid out the procedure to be followed if there were further official inquiries into Scientology. The first step was to identify the antagonists, next investigate them 'for felonies or worse' and then start feeding 'lurid, blood sex crime actual evidence on the attackers' to the press. 'Don't ever tamely submit to an investigation of us,' he warned. 'Make it rough, rough on attackers all the way.'[7]

Hubbard soon showed he was prepared to take the lead. The storm caused by the Anderson report was not merely restricted to ephemeral headlines: it provoked further and continuing media investigation into Scientology and prodded governments into taking punitive measures against the church. The reaction, sociologist Roy Wallis noted, was comparable to an international moral panic: 'The former conception of the movement as a relatively harmless, if cranky, health and self-improvement cult, was transformed into one which portrayed it as evil, dangerous, a form of hypnosis (with all the overtones of Svengali in the layman's mind), and brainwashing.'[8]

The Australian government was first to act: in December 1965, the State of Victoria passed the Psychological Practices Act which effectively outlawed Scientology and empowered the Attorney General to seize and destroy all Scientology documents and recordings. Then the country playing host to the 'evil Dr Hubbard' could hardly be expected to ignore the Anderson report and on 7 February 1966, Lord Balniel, MP, then chairman of the National Association for Mental Health, stood up in the House of Commons and asked the Minister of Health to initiate an inquiry into Scientology in Britain.

Two days later, Hubbard issued an instruction from Saint Hill Manor: 'Get a detective on that Lord's past to unearth the titbits. They're there.'[9] On 17 February he set up a 'Public Investigation Section' to be staffed by professional private detectives. Its function was to 'help LRH [Hubbard became known in Scientology by his initials] investigate public matters and individuals which seem to impede human liberty' and 'furnish intelligence'. The first private investigator hired to head the section was told to find at least one bad mark ('a murder, an assault, or a rape') on every psychiatrist in Britain, starting with Lord Balniel. Unfortunately for Hubbard, the gallant detective promptly scuttled off and sold his story to a Sunday newspaper, creating more unfavourable publicity for Scientology.[10]

Scientology's 'official' reply to the Anderson report was a forty-eight-page document, bound in black and gold, and titled 'Kangaroo Court. An investigation into the conduct of the Board of Inquiry into Scientology.' It was hardly designed to win the hearts and minds of the average Australian. 'Only a society founded by criminals, organized by criminals and devoted to making people criminals, could come to such a conclusion [about Scientology] . . .' the introduction declared. 'The foundation of Victoria consists of the riff-raff of London's slums - robbers, murderers, prostitutes, fences, thieves - the scourings of Newgate and Bedlam . . . the niceties of truth and fairness, of hearing witnesses and weighing evidence, are not for men whose ancestry is lost in the promiscuity of the prison ships of transportation . . .'

After airing the manifold grievances of the church, 'Kangaroo Court' returned to its initial theme: 'The insane attack on Scientology in the State of Victoria, can best be understood if Victoria is seen for what it is - a very primitive community, somewhat barbaric, with a rudimentary knowledge of the physical sciences.' There followed a defiant quote from L. Ron Hubbard: 'The future of Scientology in Australia is bright and shiny. We will continue to grow and progress. No vested interests or blackhearted politicians, no matter how much power they seem to ally themselves with, can stop our thoughts or our communications . . . We will be here teaching and listening when our opponents' names are merely mis-spelled references in a history book of tyranny.'

Despite his apparent confidence, Hubbard recognized that Scientologists needed a boost to their morale in the face of the concerted attacks from the media following the Anderson report. In February 1966, rumours began to circulate among Scientologists that one of their number had at last achieved the fabled state of being 'clear' (Sonya Bianca's performance at The Shrine in Los Angeles having been long forgotten). To become 'clear' was still the goal of every Scientologist, but it was proving an extraordinarily elusive one. New levels of processing were continually introduced at Saint Hill, each with the promise that it would result in 'clearing', only to be replaced by another level and yet more promises.

Among the students completing the Level VII course in February 1966 was John McMaster, a South African in his mid-thirties who worked on the staff at Saint Hill as director of the Hubbard Guidance Center. McMaster had been a medical student in Durban when he first came across Scientology in 1959. He had had part of his stomach removed because of cancer and was in more or less continuous pain until his first auditing session, after which the pain disappeared. Totally converted, he arrived at Saint Hill to take the Briefing Course in 1963 and was subsequently invited by Hubbard to join the staff.

After he had graduated as a Level VII auditor, McMaster was sent to Los Angeles by Hubbard to spread the news of the latest 'technology' being taught at Saint Hill. He had only been there a couple of days when he received a cable: 'Congratulations, world's first clear'. He was ordered to return to Saint Hill immediately for a final check on an E-meter by the 'qualifications secretary'. On 8 March he passed the check without a quiver on the needle of the E-meter, proving that he had completely erased the memory bank of his reactive mind. He was clear!

'It's with greatest joy and happiness,' the qualifications secretary advised Hubbard, 'I have to report to you that John McMaster has passed the Clear check and no doubt exists that he has erased his bank completely . . . Thank you for the honour and privilege of checking out the first Clear.'[11]

The excitement this event caused within Scientology was further heightened when the gratifying word was spread that McMaster possessed all the attributes prophesied by Ron sixteen years earlier in Dianetics, The Modern Science of Mental Health. Indeed, it was said that the world's first clear was actually glowing!

The Auditor, the journal of Scientology, trumpeted the joyous event in its next issue and quoted McMaster: 'It is a great privilege to have been able to follow the stepping stones paved in the wake of Time by such a man as L. Ron Hubbard, for although I have worked for it, I could never have realized it without the great gift he has given, not only to me, but all Mankind.' To celebrate the great occasion, Hubbard proclaimed another 'general amnesty'.

On the same day McMaster was checked out as 'clear', a curious advertisement appeared in the personal column of The Times: 'I, L. Ron Hubbard, of Saint Hill Manor, East Grinstead, Sussex, having reviewed the damage being done in our society with nuclear physics and psychiatry by persons calling themselves "Doctor" do hereby resign in protest my university degree as a Doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.), anticipating an early public outcry against anyone called Doctor; and although not in any way connected with the bombs of "psychiatrics treatment" or treatment of the sick, and interested only and always in philosophy and the total freedom of the human spirit I wish no association of any kind with these persons and do so publicly declare, and request my friends and the public not to refer to me in any way with this title.'

Next day, the Daily Mail rather churlishly pointed out that the title Hubbard had publicly renounced was bogus anyway. Mr Hubbard was not available for comment; his personal assistant, Reg Sharpe, told the newspaper that Ron was abroad on holiday and was not to be disturbed.

Hubbard was not on holiday, he was on his way to Rhodesia, where Prime Minister Ian Smith had recently signed a Unilateral Declaration of Independence in defiance of the British Government. Now that he had no reason to hope that Australia would be the first 'clear' continent, Hubbard had scaled down his ambitions and was looking for a country which would provide a 'safe environment' for Scientology. He chose Rhodesia firstly because he thought he could create a favourable climate by helping to solve the UDI crisis and secondly because he believed he had been Cecil Rhodes in a previous life. He told Reg Sharpe that he hoped to be able to recover gold and diamonds he was convinced Rhodes had buried somewhere in Rhodesia.

On 7 April 1966, the CIA headquarters in the United States received a cable from an agent in Rhodesia: 'Request traces of L. Ron Hubbard, US citizen recently arrived.' The reply confirmed that Headquarters files contained no derogatory information about the subject, but a memo was attached giving excerpts from press reports. It concluded: 'Individuals who have been connected with the organizations headed by Hubbard or who have had contact with him and the organizations, have indicated that Hubbard is a "crackpot" and of "doubtful mental background".'[12]

The 'crackpot' meanwhile had bought a large four-bedroomed house with a swimming-pool in the exclusive Alexander Park suburb of Salisbury and opened negotiations to acquire the Bumi Hills Hotel on Lake Kariba. His plan was to use the hotel as a luxury base from which to spread the influence of Scientology. He believed the Lake Kariba site would attract well-heeled followers who wanted to be instructed in the highest levels of Scientology and were willing to pay around $10,000 for the privilege.

Nothing of this was revealed to the people of Rhodesia, to whom he represented himself as a 'millionaire-financier' interested in pumping money into the crippled economy of the country and stimulating the tourist industry. In an interview in the Rhodesia Sunday Mail he said he had left his stately home in Britain on doctor's orders after a third attack of pneumonia. 'I am really supposed to be on vacation,' he explained, 'but I have had so many invitations to invest in businesses here and this country is so starved of finance that I have become intrigued.'

Hubbard was careful to distance himself from what the newspaper called 'the controversial Scientology movement'. It had never really been pushed in Rhodesia, he said, and added: 'I am still an officer of the corporation that administers the movement but it is very largely autonomous now.'[13]

In early May, Hubbard produced, uninvited, a 'tentative constitution' for Rhodesia which he felt would satisfy the demands of the blacks while at the same time maintaining white supremacy. It embodied the principle of one man one vote for a lower house, while real power was vested in an upper house elected by qualified citizens with a good standard of English, knowledge of the constitution and financial standing verified by a bank. Hubbard was apparently convinced that Rhodesia's black population would welcome his ideas, even though it was patently obvious that the qualifications required to cast a vote for the upper house would exclude most blacks.

With his inimitable talent for adopting the appropriate vernacular, Hubbard's proposals were written in suitably constitutional prose, beginning: 'Before God and Man we pledge ourselves, the Government of Rhodesia and each of our officers and men of authority in the Government to this the Constitution of our country . . .'

Copies were despatched to Ian Smith and to Saint Hill Manor in England with instructions to forward the document to the British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, when Hubbard gave the word. Ian Smith's principal private secretary replied politely to Hubbard on 5 May saying that his suggestions had been passed to a Cabinet sub-committee examining proposals for amending the constitution.

Still as paranoid as ever, Hubbard then wrote to the Minister of Internal Affairs asking if the investigation of his activities and background had been completed and if he could have confirmation that everything was in order. He added a jaunty postscript: 'Why not come over and have a drink and dinner with me one night?'

This provoked a frosty response from the Minister's private secretary: 'My Minister has asked me to thank you for your letter of 5th May 1966 and to say that he has no knowledge of his Ministry carrying out an investigation into your activities. He regrets he is unable to accept your invitation to dinner. Yours faithfully . . .'

Hubbard continued to try and ingratiate himself with the leading political figures in Rhodesia, but with little success. In June, he arranged for John McMaster to visit him from Johannesburg, where he was teaching a clearing course. 'He cabled me and asked me to bring all the clearing course students to Salisbury to take part in a film he wanted to make,' said McMaster. 'I was also to be sure to bring with me two bottles of pink champagne, which was not available in Rhodesia.

'I had no idea why he wanted it but I knew it was important because I was met by one of Hubbard's assistants at Salisbury airport and the first thing she said to me was, "Have you brought the champagne?" It turned out he wanted to give it to Mrs Smith as a present in order to try and get in with the Prime Minister. Next morning his chauffeur drove him round to Government House and he swaggered up to the front door with a bottle under each arm thinking he was going to take Mrs Smith by storm. But they wouldn't let him past the front door and he came back very upset, really disgruntled.'[14]

Hubbard's high profile as the 'millionaire-financier' who boasted that he could solve the UDI crisis won him few friends among Rhodesia's deeply conservative white society. He often spoke of his willingness to help the government, pointing out that he had been trained in economics and government at Princeton, and seemed surprised that his services were not welcomed. On television, in newspaper interviews and in all his public pronouncements, Hubbard professed support for Ian Smith's government, although in private he thought Smith was a 'nasty bit of work' who was incapable of leadership.[15] Similarly, he publicly espoused sympathy for the plight of the black majorities in both Rhodesia and South Africa, while privately admitting contempt for them. Blacks were so stupid, he told John McMaster, that they did not give a reading on an E-meter.[16]

At the beginning of July, Hubbard was invited to address the Rotary Club in Bulawayo. He delivered a rambling, hectoring speech telling the assembled businessmen how they should run their country, their businesses and their lives and when it was reported in the local newspaper it appeared to be faintly anti-Rhodesian. A couple of days later, Hubbard received a letter from the Department of Immigration informing him that his application for an extension to his Alien's Temporary Residence Permit had been unsuccessful: 'this means that you will be required to leave Rhodesia on or before the 18th July, 1966.'

Hubbard was stunned. Up until that moment he had believed himself to be not just a prominent personality in Rhodesia, but a popular one. He asked his friends in the Rhodesian Front party to make representations on his behalf to the Prime Minister, but to no avail. 'Smith ranted and raved at them,' he reported later, 'told them I had been deported from Australia, was wanted in every country in the world, that my business associates had been complaining about me and that I must go.'[17] The Rhodesian Government refused to make any comment on the expulsion order, but Hubbard had few doubts about who was behind it - it was obviously a Communist plot to get him out of the country because he was the man most likely to resolve the UDI crisis.

On 15 July, Hubbard lined up his household staff on the lawn in front of his house on John Plagis Avenue and bade them an emotional farewell for the benefit of Rhodesian television, whose cameras were recording the departure of the American millionaire-financier. At the airport there were more reporters waiting to interview him before he left and one of them warned him to expect a posse from Fleet Street to greet him in London. He was quite cheered by the prospect and began to think that his expulsion might actually increase his status as an international personality.

As Hubbard's plane lifted off the tarmac at Salisbury, frenzied preparations were being made in Britain to give him a hero's welcome on his return. The news that the revered founder of Scientology was being kicked out of Rhodesia had initially been greeted with dismay and disbelief at Saint Hill Manor. 'We were shocked,' said Ken Urquhart, 'no one could understand how such a thing could happen. It was an even bigger surprise for the other orgs because none of them knew he was in Rhodesia. It was supposed to be a big secret. I was by then working as LRH Communicator World-Wide and it was my job to code and decode the telexes that were going backwards and forwards and between Saint Hill and Rhodesia. He didn't want anyone to know he was away because he thought everyone would start slacking.'

Coaches were laid on to transport every available Scientologist from East Grinstead to Heathrow on the morning of Saturday, 16 July. They took with them hastily prepared 'Welcome Home' banners but neglected to obtain the necessary permission to wave them; airport police politely insisted they should remain unfurled. Some six hundred Scientologists, including Mary Sue and the children, were gathered in the terminal by the time Hubbard's flight landed. They had to wait while he sorted out a problem about his vaccinations with immigration officers and two hours passed before he emerged from Customs, wearing a lightweight suit and sun-hat, looking tired, but smiling broadly. 'I'm glad to be back,' he shouted as police forced a path through his cheering supporters to a yellow Pontiac convertible parked in front of the terminal. He sat on the back, waving presidential style, as the car was slowly driven away.

No one could have asked for a more enthusiastic welcome, although Hubbard was disappointed that Fleet Street had failed to turn out. Only one reporter was at the airport and he only seemed to want to ask about the events in Australia, to which query Hubbard snapped, 'That's past history.'

Pam and Ray Kemp were among the first visitors to Saint Hill after Hubbard's return from Rhodesia. 'He told me everything that had happened,' said Ray Kemp. 'It seems there was a chief of police who was very bullying to the blacks and Ian Smith was very wimpish. Smith couldn't make decisions about anything and would rely on the chief of police to tell him what to do. Ron was at dinner one night with Smith and he warned him that if he continued to be wimpish and not put his foot down the probability was that he would be assassinated. About two days later there was an assassination attempt, although I don't remember whether it was on Smith or the chief of police. The bullet went through his mouth and out the side. Ron somehow got the blame because of what he had said. That was why he was asked to leave.'[18]

Ken Urquhart got a slightly different version: 'He inferred the problem was that he knew what to do about the blacks and be became very popular with them. That's why the government kicked him out. I heard him tell Mary Sue that he had lost £200,000 in investment in Rhodesia.'

Back in the familiar surroundings of Saint Hill Manor, Hubbard had plenty of time to review Scientology's current situation and prospects. It was a far from rosy picture. Apart from the problems in Australia and Rhodesia, trouble was also brewing in the United States, where the Internal Revenue Service was challenging the Church of Scientology's tax-exempt status. In Britain there was another rash of hysterical headlines when the police found a girl wandering the streets of East Grinstead in a distressed condition in the early hours of the morning. It transpired she was a schizophrenic who had been institutionalized before being recruited as a Scientologist.

There were further demands in Parliament for an inquiry into Scientology, to which the Minister of Health tartly replied: 'I do not think any further inquiry is necessary to establish that the activities of this organization are potentially harmful. I have no doubt that Scientology is totally valueless in promoting health . . .'

Scientology even seemed to be wearing out its welcome in East Grinstead, where the locals were complaining they were being overwhelmed. As if it was not bad enough having strange Americans walking round the streets wearing badges saying 'Don't speak to me, I'm being processed', Scientologists were snapping up all available rented accommodation, crowding the pubs and straining everyone's patience.

'There was a lot of resentment and alarm in the town,' said Alan Larcombe of the East Grinstead Courier. 'People felt that Scientology could not be allowed to continue expanding. There was a feeling they were trying to take over - an estate agent, dentist, hairdresser, jeweller's, finance company and a couple of doctors were all Scientology run. People didn't like it. They felt that if you had problems you ought to go and have a chat with your vicar.'

Larcombe paid another visit to Saint Hill Manor and was astonished at the numbers of people who were there. 'It was quite an eye opener. As I pulled up outside the house a bell sounded somewhere and people began pouring out, hundreds and hundreds of them, like wasps leaving a nest. It was an incredible sight. I was completely taken aback by how much the place had grown. I discovered there were so many students there that the sewage system could not cope.'

Hubbard, musing on Scientology's multitude of problems in the autumn of 1966, arrived at a daring and original solution. He kept it a secret, because he loved secrets, although he hinted at what was on his mind in a remark to John McMaster, recently returned from South Africa. 'You know, John,' he said, 'we have got to do something about all this trouble we are having with governments. There's a lot of high-level research still to be done and I want to be able to get on with it without constant interference. Do you realize that 75 per cent of the earth's surface is completely free from the control of any government? That's where we could be free - on the high seas.'[19] McMaster had no idea what he meant and Hubbard did not choose to elaborate.

Soon, senior Scientologists were arriving from the United States to take part in a top-secret project under Ron's personal direction. They could sometimes be seen scrambling in and out of a rubber dinghy on the lake or pouring over navigational charts in a classroom. Some evenings they met behind closed doors in the garage and it was said that they spent their time practising tying knots.

By December it was known they were involved in something called the 'Sea Project'. But still no one could imagine what it was.

1. 'The Findings on the US Food and Drug Agency' [sic], Church of Scientology, 1968

2. HCO Bulletin, 11 May 1963

3. Saturday Evening Post, 21 March 1964

4. Interview with Ken Urquhart, Maclean, VA., April 1986

5. Interview with Vosper

6. Anderson, op. cit.

7. Enquiry into the Practice & Effects of Scientology, Sir John Foster, 1971 
8. The Road To Total Freedom, Roy Wallis, 1976 
9. Secretarial Executive Director, Office of LRH, 9 February 1966

10. The People, 20 March 1966

11. Saxon Hamilton Journal, Summer 1985

12. CIA files obtained via FOI

13. Rhodesia Sunday Mail, 22 May 1966

14. Interview with McMaster, London, March 1986 
15. CIA memo, 22 August 1966 
16. Interview with McMaster 
17. CIA memo

18. Interview with Kemp

19. Interview with McMaster

Bare-Faced Messiah By  Russell Miller, Chapter 16 Launching the Sea Org

The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard is a posthumous biography of Scientology founder

L. Ron Hubbard by British journalist Russell Miller. Originally published: 26 October1987 Author: Russell Miller,

Genre: Biography,

Page count: 380,

Publisher: Michael Joseph,

Subject: L. Ron Hubbard

Bare-Faced Messiah By  Russell Miller, Chapter 16 Launching the Sea Org

Rare picture of the 'mystery ship', the Royal Scotman, in which the commodore sailed the Mediterranean. (Granada Television Ltd)

'Hearing of L. Ron Hubbard's plans for further exploration and research into, among other things, past civilizations, many Scientologists wanted to join him and help. They adopted the name "Sea Organization" . . . Free of organizational duties and aided by the first Sea Org members, L. Ron Hubbard now had the time and facilities to confirm in the physical universe some of the events and places he had encountered in his journeys down the track of time . . .' (Mission Into Time)

 (Scientology's account of the years 1967-68.)

*   *   *   *   *

In 1967, L. Ron Hubbard was fifty-six years old, the father of seven children and a grandfather several times over. With a loyal wife, a home in England and four children still at school, he was at an age when most men put down roots and plan nothing more ambitious than a comfortable retirement. But he was not like most men.

In 1967, L. Ron Hubbard raised a private navy, appointed himself Commodore, donned a dashing uniform of his own design and set forth on an extraordinary odyssey, leading a fleet of ships across the oceans variously pursued by the CIA, the FBI, the international press and a miscellany of suspicious government and maritime agencies. He had begun making secret plans to set up the 'Sea Organization' on his return from Rhodesia in the summer of 1966, shrouding the whole operation with layer upon layer of duplicity. His intention was that the public should believe that he was returning to his former 'profession', that of an explorer, and accordingly, in September 1966, Hubbard announced his resignation as President of the Church of Scientology. This charade was supported by the explanation that the church was sufficiently well established to survive without his leadership. In preparation for his anticipated resignation a special committee had been set up to investigate how much the church owed its founder; it was decided the figure was around $13 million, but Hubbard, in his benevolence, forgave the debt.

Still a member of the Explorers Club, Hubbard applied for permission to carry the club flag on his forthcoming 'Hubbard  Geological Survey Expedition'. Its purpose, he explained, was to conduct a geological survey from Italy, through Greece and Egypt to the Gulf of Aden and down the east coast of Africa: 'Samples of rock types, formations, and soils will be taken in order to draw a picture of an area which has been the scene of the earlier and basic civilizations of the planet and from which some conclusions may possibly be made relating to geological dispositions requisite for civilized growth.'

This highfalutin nonsense sufficiently impressed the Explorers Club for the expedition to be awarded the club flag. [The club could not, however, be said to examine such applications very scrupulously - Hubbard had also been awarded the flag in 1961 for another entirely fictitious venture - the 'Ocean Archaeological Expedition', allegedly set up to explore submerged cities in the Caribbean, Mediterranean and adjacent waters.[1]]

On 22 November 1966, the Hubbard Explorational Company Limited was incorporated at Companies House in London. The directors were L. Ron Hubbard, described as expedition supervisor, and Mary Sue Hubbard, the company secretary. The aims of the company were to 'explore oceans, seas, lakes, rivers and waters, lands and buildings in any part of the world and to seek for, survey, examine and test properties of all kinds'.

Hubbard had no more intention of conducting geological surveys than he had of relinquishing control of the Church of Scientology and its handsome income. His real objective was to shake off the fetters on his activities and ambitions imposed by tiresome land-based bureaucracies; his vision was of a domain of his own creation on the freedom of the high seas, connected by sophisticated coded communications to its operations on land. Its purpose would be to propagate Scientology behind a screen of business management courses.

Before the end of 1966, the 'Sea Org' - as it would inevitably become known - had secretly purchased its first ship, the Enchanter, a forty-ton sea-going schooner. To further obscure his involvement, Hubbard asked his friend Ray Kemp to be a part owner. Kemp was the man who believed that Hubbard could move clouds with the power of his mind and when he showed up at Saint Hill to sign for the Enchanter he swore that Hubbard played a little magical trick on him: 'We'd been sitting talking for hours and it was getting dark when he said, "Well I guess we'd better get this thing signed." I said, "Do you have a pen?" and he said, "Yes, it's over there." I went to pick up the pen on his desk and it disappeared. I thought at first it was the light, but I tried three times to pick up the pen and each time it was not there and I realized he was making it disappear. In the end I said to Ron, "If you'll just leave the bloody pen still for a moment, I'll sign". He could do fun things like that, he was just playing a game.'[2]

Shortly after the purchase of the Enchanter, the Hubbard Explorational Company bought an old, rusty North Sea trawler, the 414-ton Avon River, moored at Hull, a busy seaport on the north-east coast of England. Hubbard then flew to Tangier in Morocco, where he planned to continue his 'research', leaving his family at Saint Hill Manor. Mary Sue wanted to stay behind because Diana, star pupil at the local dancing school, had been chosen to present a bouquet to Princess Margaret, who was due to open the Genée Theatre in East Grinstead a few weeks later.

Before being driven to the airport, Hubbard scribbled instructions for various members of the 'sea project'. One of them was Virginia Downsborough, a plump and cheerful New Yorker who had been working as an auditor at Saint Hill for nearly three years. Virginia was never entirely sure why she had been honoured with an invitation to join the project, unless it was because she came from a sailing family and knew a little about ships and knots. 'At that time the sea project was just a few of us who would get together in the garage and learn how to tie knots and read a pilot. I bought a little sailing boat and sailed it at weekends, but that was about it. Ron always worked way down the line - he knew what he intended to do, but he never laid it out for us.

'After he had gone I was given a sealed envelope with his initials on. Inside were my orders. I had to go to Hull, get the Enchanter ready for sea and sail her to Gibraltar for a refit. Ron gave me a list of things he wanted from Saint Hill, mainly personal possessions and clothes, which I was to bring with me. I left for Hull next day.'

Scientologists were in the habit of following Ron's orders unhesitatingly, no matter how difficult the task, or how ill-equipped they were to carry them out. Virginia Downsborough held a masters degree in education and had run a child development department in a New York school before coming to Saint Hill; nevertheless she set out for Hull without a second thought. 'A lot of things needed to be done before the Enchanter was ready to sail,' she recalled, 'so I lived on the Avon River, which was moored alongside and was absolutely filthy, for a couple of weeks while the work was being carried out.'

The Enchanter sailed in the New Year with a hired skipper and a novice crew of four Scientologists, including Downsborough. In the light of forthcoming Sea Org voyages, it was a comparatively uneventful trip, apart from losing most of the fuel at sea somewhere off the coast of Portugal. After putting in briefly at Oporto, the Enchanter arrived safely in Gibraltar, only to discover there was no room in the ways. A message arrived from a Hubbard aide in Tangier saying that Ron was ill and they were to continue to Las Palmas, in the Canary Islands.

'We got the Enchanter on the ways in Las Palmas,' said Downsborough, 'and we had not been there very long before Ron turned up. Bill Robertson - another Scientologist - and myself went to the post office to post some letters and discovered a telegram there from Ron saying that he was arriving in Las Palmas almost at that minute and wanted to be met. We jumped into a taxi and got to the airport just in time to pick him up as he was coming through Customs. We found him a hotel in Las Palmas and next day I went back to see if he was all right, because he did not seem to be too well.

'When I went in to his room there were drugs of all kinds everywhere. He seemed to be taking about sixty thousand different pills. I was appalled, particularly after listening to all his tirades against drugs and the medical profession. There was something very wrong with him, but I didn't know what it was except that he was in a state of deep depression; he told me he didn't have any more gains and he wanted to die. That's what he said: "I want to die."'

It was important for Hubbard to be discovered in this dramatically debilitated condition at this time, for it would soon be announced to fellow Scientologists that he had completed 'a research accomplishment of immense magnitude' described, somewhat inscrutably, as the 'Wall of Fire'. This was the OT3 (Operating Thetan Section Three) material, in which were contained 'the secrets of a disaster which resulted in the decay of life as we know it in this sector of the galaxy'.[3] Hubbard, it was said, was the 'first person in millions of years' to map a precise route through the 'Wall of Fire'. Having done so, his OT power had been increased to such an extent that he was at grave risk of accidental injury to his body; indeed, he had broken his back, a knee and an arm during the course of his research.

Virginia Downsborough did not observe any broken limbs, but recognized that Ron needed nursing. 'I moved into an adjoining room in the hotel to take care of him. He refused to eat the hotel food, so I got a little hotplate and cooked meals for him in the room, simple things, things that he liked. My main concern was to try and get him off all the pills he was on and persuade him that there was still plenty for him to do. He was sleeping a lot and refused to get out of bed.

'I don't know what drugs he was taking - they certainly weren't making him high - but I knew I had to get him over it. I discussed it with him and gradually took them away. He didn't carry on about it. He had brought a great pile of unopened mail with him from Tangier, a lot of it from Mary Sue, and I got him to start reading her letters. After about three weeks he decided he would get out of bed and he started taking little walks and then he got interested in what was happening on the Enchanter and after that he was all right.'

Mary Sue flew in to Las Palmas as soon as Ron was back on his feet and Virginia Downsborough was instructed to find the Hubbards a house. She rented the Villa Estrella, a pretty white-painted hacienda with a red-tiled roof on a rocky promontory facing the sea, about forty-five minutes drive from Las Palmas. 'I cooked dinner for them at the house every evening,' she said. 'Ron used to like to sit up and talk half the night long after Mary Sue had gone to bed. He had this intense ability to communicate and it was fascinating to listen to him. I was intrigued by the concept he presented of himself as being a constant victim of women.

'He talked a lot about Sara Northrup and seemed to want to make sure that I knew he had never married her. I didn't know why it was so important to him; I'd never met Sara and I couldn't have cared less, but he wanted to persuade me that the marriage had never taken place. When he talked about his first wife, the picture he put out of himself was of this poor wounded fellow coming home from the war and being abandoned by his wife and family because he would be a drain on them. He said he had planned every move along the way with Mary Sue to avoid being victimized again.'[4]

When the Enchanter came off the ways in the harbour at Las Palmas, Hubbard took her out on extended cruises round the Canary Islands to search for gold he had buried in previous lives. 'He would draw little maps for us,' said Virginia Downsborough, 'and we would be sent off to dig for buried treasure. He told us he was hoping to replace the Enchanter's ballast with solid gold. I thought it was great fun - the best show on earth.'

All these activities were supposed to remain a closely guarded secret and Hubbard insisted on the use of elaborate codes in Sea Org communications. In a despatch to Saint Hill he urged his followers not to feel '007ish and silly' about security. 'When you have had the close calls I have had in intelligence through security failures,' he said, 'you begin to believe there is something in the subject. I was once in 1940 ordered out on a secret mission by the US to a hostile foreign land with whom we were not yet at war. It was vital to mask my purpose there. It would have been fatal had I been known to have been a naval officer. On a hunch I didn't leave at once and the following day the US sent a letter to me that had I left would have been forwarded to me in that land, addressing me with full rank and title, informing me to wear white cap covers after April 15 in Washington. Had I departed, that letter, following me, would have sentenced me to death before a firing squad!'[5]

While Hubbard was in Las Palmas he developed phobias about dust and smells which were the cause of frequent explosive temper tantrums. He was always complaining that his clothes smelled of soap or he was being choked by dust that no one else could detect. No matter how frequently the Enchanter's decks were scrubbed, she was never clean enough for the Commodore. Similarly, the routine drive between the harbour and the Villa Estrella became an ordeal for everyone in the car. 'Sometimes I thought we'd never get there,' said Virginia Downsborough. 'Every few miles he would insist on stopping because there was dust in the air conditioner. He would get into such a rage that on occasions I thought he was going to tear the car apart.'

In April 1967, the Avon River steamed into the harbour at Las Palmas after a voyage from Hull which the skipper, Captain John Jones, later described as the 'strangest trip of my life'. Apart from the chief engineer, Jones was the only professional seaman on board. 'My crew were sixteen men and four women Scientologists who wouldn't know a trawler from a tramcar,' he told a reporter from the Daily Mirror on his return to England.

Captain Jones should perhaps have foreseen the difficulties when he signed on for the voyage and was informed that he would be expected to run the ship according to the rules of The Org Book, a sailing manual written by the founder of the Church of Scientology and therefore considered by Scientologists to be infallible gospel. 'I was instructed not to use any electrical equipment, apart from lights, radio and direction finder. We had radar and other advanced equipment which I was not allowed to use. I was told it was all in The Org Book, which was to be obeyed without question.'

Following the advice in this esteemed manual, the Avon River bumped the dock in Hull as she was getting under way and had barely left the Humber estuary before the Scientologist navigator, using the navigational system advocated by Hubbard, confessed that he was lost. 'I stuck to my watch and sextant,' said Captain Jones, 'so at least I knew where we were.'

As the old trawler laboured into the wind-flecked waters of the English Channel, a disagreement arose between the senior Scientologist on board and the Captain about who was in command. By the time the Avon River put into Falmouth to re-fuel, both the Captain and the chief engineer were threatening to pack their bags and leave the ship. Frantic telephone calls to East Grinstead eventually led to the protesting Scientologist being ordered to return to Saint Hill and the smoothing of Captain Jones's ruffled feathers. The rest of the trip passed off without incident, although the two seamen remained utterly mystified by their crew and in particular by the hours they spent fiddling with their E-meters.[6]

At Las Palmas, the Avon River was hauled up on the slips recently vacated by the Enchanter and prepared for a major re-fit. A working party of bright-eyed sea project members had already arrived in the Canaries, among them Amos Jessup, a philosophy major from Connecticut. The son of a senior editor on Life magazine, Jessup had gone to Saint Hill in 1966, while he was studying in Oxford, to try and get his young brother out of Scientology and instead had become converted himself. 'I was soon convinced', he said, 'that instead of being some dangerous cult it was an important advance in philosophy.

'I was clear by the spring of '67 and when I heard that LRH was looking for personnel for a communications vessel I immediately volunteered and was sent to Las Palmas. We were all given a "shore story" so that no one would know that we were Scientologists; we were told to say that we were working for the Hubbard Explorational Company on archaeological research.

'On the day we arrived, the Avon River was being hauled up on the slips. She looked like what she was - an old, worn-out, oil-soaked, rust-flaked steam trawler. Our job was to give her a complete overhaul. We sand-blasted her from stem to stern, painted her, put bunks in what had been the rope locker, converted the liver oil boiling room into additional accommodation, put decks in the cargo holds to make space for offices. LRH designed a number of improvements - a larger rudder and a system of lifts to hoist small boats aboard.'[7]

Hubbard would show up every couple of days to check on the progress of the work, but it was never going ahead fast enough and more sea project members were constantly being flown in to Las Palmas to join the work-force. Hana Eltringham, a former nurse from South Africa, arrived in August. 'At first sight the ship looked terrible, all streaked with rust,' she said. 'You had to climb a long, shaky ladder to get up on to the deck and as I got over the side I could see everything was covered in sand from the sand-blasting and then were people sleeping on the sand, obviously exhausted.

'Nevertheless, it was a tremendous thrill to be there. It was a great honour to be invited to join the sea project; we were an elite, like the Marine Corps. All of us were true and tried Scientologists, highly motivated, and to me it was high adventure.'

After working as a deck hand for a couple of weeks, Hana was promoted to ethics officer. 'My job was to run round making sure the crew weren't goofing. I felt I was responsible for catching errors before he did because he would get very upset - he would literally scream and shout - if something was not being done right. I was mostly scared of him in those days.

'One afternoon I was standing on the deck with a clipboard waiting for him to come on board and I knew something was wrong because I saw his face start to contort when he was still 15 or 20 yards away, walking towards the slips. As he came up to the ship he started shouting, filling his lungs and bellowing "What are they doing? Why are they doing that?" and pointing to the side of the ship. He came up the ladder still screaming in a kind of frenzy. I didn't know what was the matter and he told me to look over the side of the ship. I stuck my head over to see what the hell he was screaming about. The painters who were putting white paint on the hull were using old rollers and the paint had a kind of furry coat on it from the rollers. He'd seen that from many yards away. It was extraordinary. I was awed.'[8]

Such incidents inevitably led to the offenders being assigned a 'lower condition', the penalties for which were by then routinely formalized. The least serious was 'emergency' followed by 'liability', in which hapless state the miscreant forfeited pay, was confined to 'org premises' and had to wear the infamous dirty grey rag on one arm. In a condition of 'treason', all uniforms and insignia were removed and the rag was replaced by a black mark on the left check. In 'doubt', the offender was fined, barred from the org and could not be communicated with. Lastly came the dreaded 'enemy' - 'May be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.'

Even though Hubbard had 'resigned' as president of the Church of Scientology, the flow of edicts continued uninterrupted and he reminded Scientologists of the penalties for lower conditions in a policy letter dictated at the Villa Estrella in Las Palmas. He also found time to record a taped lecture in which he warned of a world-wide conspiracy to destroy Scientology. The resourceful Mary Sue had apparently traced the conspiracy to the very highest levels, to a cabal of international bankers and newspaper barons sufficiently powerful to control many heads of state, among them the British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson.

While Hubbard was fulminating against international conspiracies and bellowing at his amateur work-force as they struggled to prepare the Avon Riverfor sea, good news arrived from a 'mission' in Britain (tasks undertaken on Hubbard's behalf were always aggrandized as 'missions'). For many months two senior Scientologists, Joe van Staden and Ron Pook, had been scouring European ports for a big ship, something like a cruise liner, which could be used as the Sea Org's flagship. In September, they reported by telex that they had found, laid up in Aberdeen, just the ship that Ron was looking for. She was the Royal Scotsman, a 3280-ton motor vessel built in 1936 and most recently in service as a cattle ferry on the Irish Channel crossing. Despite her age, she was in good condition and could probably be bought, von Staden and Pook thought, for not much more than £60,000. To Hubbard, the money was insignificant; Saint Hill alone was taking in around £40,000 a week in fees. He immediately instructed von Staden and Pook to start negotiating the purchase and to make arrangements for the Royal Scotsman to join the other ships in Las Palmas, although Avon River was still high and dry on the slips.

It was only natural that the Commodore, who was not the most patient of men, would want his fleet assembled at the earliest opportunity and he was constantly irritated by what he considered to be unnecessary delays in the Avon River's refit. By this time there were thirty-five Scientologists working on the ship from dawn to dusk, sawing, painting, chipping, scrubbing and polishing. The bridge had been completely reconstructed and fitted with new compasses and navigation equipment, all the cabins had been steam cleaned, the fish hold was converted into auditing space with rows of built-in desks, and there was a research office for the Commodore just forward of the bridge.

When at last she was ready for service, the re-launching was rather less than an outstanding success. As the trawler, sprucely whitepainted, slid down the ways, it was realized too late that no precautions had been taken to restrain her; she drifted helplessly in the bay until a boat could be found to push her towards a mooring buoy. To compound this embarrassing indignity, the Enchanter appeared over the horizon under tow, having broken down while out searching for the treasure buried by the Commodore in previous lives. Two days later, both ships set sail, somewhat uncertainly, for Gibraltar.

The Royal Scotsman, meanwhile, had left Aberdeen but had run foul of the Board of Trade, the British agency responsible for the safety of ships registered in the United Kingdom. On 7 November, a solicitor acting for the new owners of the Royal Scotsman, had telephoned the Board of Trade in London and asked if the ship could be re-registered as a pleasure yacht and cleared for a voyage to Gibraltar. He was told that such a re-classification would entail considerable modifications - under the Safety of Life at Sea Convention of 1960, the ship would need valid load-line, cargo ship construction, safety equipment and radio certificates.

The Sea Org decided to try another tack: a couple of days later, the Royal Scotsman put in to Southampton on the south coast and an attempt was made to clear her with the port authorities as a whaling ship. This sudden transformation not unnaturally aroused suspicions and the authorities responded by slapping a provisional detention order on the ship, preventing her from putting to sea until necessary safety provisions had been complied with.

This news, nervously conveyed to L. Ron Hubbard in Gibraltar, produced a predictable explosion. Hubbard railed at the stupidity of the people who were supposed to be helping him and fumed about the injustice of being prevented from doing what he wanted with his own instructed von Staden and Pook to start negotiating the purchase and to make arrangements for the Royal Scotsman to join the other ships in Las Palmas, although Avon River was still high and dry on the slips.

It was only natural that the Commodore, who was not the most patient of men, would want his fleet assembled at the earliest opportunity and he was constantly irritated by what he considered to be unnecessary delays in the Avon River's refit. By this time there were thirty-five Scientologists working on the ship from dawn to dusk, sawing, painting, chipping, scrubbing and polishing. The bridge had been completely reconstructed and fitted with new compasses and navigation equipment, all the cabins had been steam cleaned, the fish hold was converted into auditing space with rows of built-in desks, and there was a research office for the Commodore just forward of the bridge.

When at last she was ready for service, the re-launching was rather less than an outstanding success. As the trawler, sprucely whitepainted, slid down the ways, it was realized too late that no precautions had been taken to restrain her; she drifted helplessly in the bay until a boat could be found to push her towards a mooring buoy. To compound this embarrassing indignity, the Enchanter appeared over the horizon under tow, having broken down while out searching for the treasure buried by the Commodore in previous lives. Two days later, both ships set sail, somewhat uncertainly, for Gibraltar.

The Royal Scotsman, meanwhile, had left Aberdeen but had run foul of the Board of Trade, the British agency responsible for the safety of ships registered in the United Kingdom. On 7 November, a solicitor acting for the new owners of the Royal Scotsman, had telephoned the Board of Trade in London and asked if the ship could be re-registered as a pleasure yacht and cleared for a voyage to Gibraltar. He was told that such a re-classification would entail considerable modifications - under the Safety of Life at Sea Convention of 1960, the ship would need valid load-line, cargo ship construction, safety equipment and radio certificates.

The Sea Org decided to try another tack: a couple of days later, the Royal Scotsman put in to Southampton on the south coast and an attempt was made to clear her with the port authorities as a whaling ship. This sudden transformation not unnaturally aroused suspicions and the authorities responded by slapping a provisional detention order on the ship, preventing her from putting to sea until necessary safety provisions had been complied with.

This news, nervously conveyed to L. Ron Hubbard in Gibraltar, produced a predictable explosion. Hubbard railed at the stupidity of the people who were supposed to be helping him and fumed about the injustice of being prevented from doing what he wanted with his ownship. When he had calmed down, he decided that the only solution was to fly to England with a hand-picked crew, take command of the Royal Scotsmanand sail her away, protests from the Board of Trade notwithstanding.

Shortly afterwards, a curious party of sailors in blue serge suits, white polo neck sweaters and little tar hats arrived at Gatwick airport on a flight from Gibraltar. They were led by a large, red-faced man wearing a white peaked cap and carrying a letter of authority explaining that they were the delivery crew for a vessel under the seal of the Hubbard Explorational Company. In the customs hall, an officer of HM Customs and Excise glanced briefly at the letter brandished by the red-faced man and casually inquired: 'Is this the same Hubbard who has the place at East Grinstead?' 'Oh yes,' the red-faced man boomed, 'Mr Hubbard is an explorer himself.' Amos Jessup, who was standing directly behind Hubbard, marvelled at his composure.

The improbable sailors boarded a coach waiting outside the airport and were driven straight to Southampton Docks, to the berth occupied by the Royal Scotsman. 'Everyone climbed out and stared up at this huge ship,' Jessup recalled. 'I was startled and amazed by the size of it. It was three stories high and 357 feet long. I was assigned to be the bos'n. I didn't know all I should have known about bos'ning and I was rather shocked at the magnitude of what I'd been handed.

'After we got on board, LRH called everyone together and had us sit on the staircase between A deck and B deck. He stood at the bottom of the stairs and said, "This may look like a big and overwhelming thing, but don't let it scare you. I've handled ships bigger than this. She handles like a dream, drives like a Cadillac with big twin screws. There's nothing to it." We were already a can-do kind of group, but everyone felt a bit better after that.'

Over the next few days, there was constant activity at the Royal Scotsman's berth. Every few hours a truck would arrive from Saint Hill loaded with filing cabinets which were humped on board. Taxis disgorged eager Saint Hill volunteers, clutching their bags and the 'billion-year contract' which Hubbard had recently introduced as a condition of service in the Sea Org. Mary Sue and the children arrived and took over the upper-deck accommodation which had been reserved for the Hubbard family.

Diana Hubbard was then fifteen, Quentin thirteen, Suzette a year younger and little Arthur just nine years old. They would have the company of a few other children on the ship and a notice was pinned in the saloon explaining how they were to be treated: 'A tutor will be provided for the children, who will be assigned regular hours of work and play. Anyone who deprives a child of his or her work or play will be assigned to a condition of non-existence. (Penalties for non-existence - Must wear old clothes. May not bathe. Women must not wear make-up or have hair-do's. Men may not shave. No lunch hour . . .)'[9]

Not everyone joining the crew was a volunteer. John McMaster, whom Hubbard had earlier described as the first Pope of the Church of Scientology, had recently fallen into disfavour, probably because he was beginning to become too influential. Slight and golden-haired, McMaster had been touring the world as an evangelist for Scientology, attracting huge audiences, considerable popularity and the dangerous enmity of L. Ron Hubbard. On a brief return visit to Saint Hill, he was abruptly assigned a lower condition, deprived of all his awards and ordered to re-train from scratch.

He would recall his experiences years later with enormous bitterness, contemptuously referring to Hubbard as 'Fatty': 'All of a sudden I was ordered to appear at Saint Hill Manor at nine o'clock on a Sunday morning with all my clothes. There was a big open truck outside being loaded with files and filing cabinets and I was told to get in the back. I had no idea where I was going. By the time we got to Southampton Docks I was frozen, I could hardly move. This was November, don't forget. They got me on to the poop deck and this big fat body appeared. It was Fatty. "Oh, so you've deigned to come, have you?" be said. "Well I'm here, aren't I?" I said. "If you've come to join us, I'll come down and shake your hand," he said. He stepped down, grabbed my hand, realized I was frozen and started screaming and shouting to get me into a warm cabin. I sat in the cabin for about three hours until I had thawed out. I was told that I was going to be a galley hand. By this time I was well used to Hubbard's insanity and there was no way I was going to succumb to it. I wasn't bothered. If they wanted me to clean the heads and scrub the decks, that was fine by me.'[10]

To supplement his inexperienced crew, Hubbard hired a couple of professional seamen, including a chief engineer, but it did not prevent mishaps occurring even before the Royal Scotsman had put to sea. One of the recruits was on duty at the gangplank as Quartermaster and failed to notice until it was too late that the ship's rubbing strake had caught on the edge of the dock as the tide ebbed. A small crowd of stevedores watched with undisguised amusement as the crew of the Royal Scotsman tried to lever their enormous ship off the dock. It was hopeless: the rubbing strake creaked, splintered and finally broke away from the hull.

Hubbard took the opportunity to parade the entire crew on the dockside to point out what had happened and remind them that as thetans all of them must have had seafaring experience in one or another of their past lives. 'The truth of the matter is that you have all been around a long time,' he stressed. 'Stop pretending you don't know what it is all about, because you do know what it is all about.' Amos Jessup said everyone felt better afterwards.

While all this was going on, Hubbard had despatched Hana Eltringham on a top secret mission to re-register the Royal Scotsman in Sierra Leone in order to circumvent the attention of the Board of Trade. Hana first flew back to Las Palmas, where she collected a Spanish lawyer who had previously worked for the church, and then together they took a flight to Sierra Leone, a tiny, mosquito-ridden republic on the west coast of Africa. In Freetown, the capital, it took thirty-six hours to complete the paperwork, during which time Hana bought a large Sierra Leonese flag. On 28 November, less than three days after leaving Britain, she was on her way back to Gatwick carrying the ship's new documents. She took a cab from the airport direct to Southampton Docks.

'I arrived back on board at about four o'clock in the afternoon and took the papers straight to LRH, who was having tea in the main dining-room with the ship's officers. He was delighted to see me and very pleased to get the new registration, but as he was reading through the papers his eye caught something and he started to frown. I felt the familiar terror rising. "Did you notice this?" he said, pointing to the name of the ship on the papers. I looked and saw the "s" had been missed out and it was spelled "Royal Scotman". I began to stammer an apology, but he suddenly smiled, grabbed my hand and began pumping it. "Double congratulations," he said. "Now the ship has a new name as well."' He instantly ordered painters to black out the second 's' in the name on the bows, stern, lifeboats and lifebelts.

The following day, the Royal Scotman applied for clearance to sail to Brest in north-west France, for repairs. The port authorities in Southampton had no powers to detain a vessel registered in Sierra Leone and the ship sailed at dusk, raising the Sierra Leonese flag and banging into the fenders in the inner harbour on her way out into Southampton Water. It was to be a hair-raising maiden voyage for the Sea Org's flagship, as Hana Eltringham recounted:

'We sailed out of the channel that evening into an awful storm. The engine room was in a very bad condition; the main engines were not running very well and neither were the generators and because the paint was so dirty in the engine room you couldn't follow which were the water lines and which were the fuel lines. Half-way between Southampton and Brest, one of the generators conked out.

'I was on bridge watch as officer of the deck. We were between three to five miles off the north-west tip of France and I could see ahead, on the port side, the buoys marking the rocky coastline going south. But as we came around to try and get into the estuary towards Brest I noticed that the red-flashing buoys were swinging across the bows of the ship and I realized we were caught in a rip tide and were being pushed towards the rocks.

'The ship started to wallow very badly and each time she went over she took longer to recover. Although she had stabilizers, she went from a five degree roll to almost a twenty-five degree roll and on the last roll to port she staggered. We were all hanging on to the bridge and at that moment the old man [Hubbard] began screaming at Bill Robertson, the navigator, "Get us on a course out of here! Get us on a course out of here!" He was really bellowing. The ship started to stagger around, very slowly and painfully. It was scary. I was terrified and I think LRH was too, the way he was screaming and holding on to the bridge and glaring at us.

'Once we had got out of it and were about ten miles off the coast steering south, he took the entire bridge watch into the cabin just behind the bridge and told us that due to what had happened and the ship being at risk and not truly seaworthy he had decided not to go into Brest, even though it would be defying orders. We were going to continue south down to the Mediterranean. The way he was telling us was like he was convincing us it was the right thing to do. He went over and over it, to make sure we understood. Then he entered what had happened in the log book, a two- or three-page entry explaining the reasons for not going into Brest, and we all signed it.

'The following day there was another near catastrophe. We were planning to put into Gibraltar to meet up with the Avon River. It was about five or five-thirty in the afternoon and getting dark as we approached the Gibraltar Strait. We were in the northernmost lane entering the Med and we could see there was a storm brewing. The storm came up quickly and the sea was very wild and as we were battling to control the ship the oil lines from the bridge to the engine room lost pressure and the hydraulic steering on the bridge gave way.

'The ship started to drift across the southernmost outgoing lane towards the Moroccan coast. We put our "Not under command" lights on so other ships could see we were drifting and started to work frantically on the back of the poop deck to rig up the emergency steering. It was pouring with rain and very cold. In the middle of all this we were in radio communication with Gibraltar asking for help, for a tug to be sent out to bring us in. They refused. They said that because we had failed to comply with our sailing orders we would not be allowed into any English port. I can remember LRH pleading with them on the radio: "We have wives and children on board, we are at risk." But they would not come to our aid. I was appalled. It was my first major shock.

'We had managed to find all the component parts to hook up the emergency steering on the aft docking bridge and there we were, Ron, Pook and myself, hanging on to the manual steering wheel trying to steer the ship while someone stood holding an umbrella over us, another shone a torch on a little hand compass and someone else talked on a walkie-talkie to the bridge to the person watching the gyro compass. Mary Sue was running backwards and forwards with cups of steaming hot cocoa.

'I could still hear snatches of LRH talking to Gib on the ship-to-shore radio and I remember standing there, holding on to the steering wheel with aching arms and tears streaming down my face, thinking nobody wants us, where can we go? To be refused help by a British port brought home to me the enormity of our situation and my empathy for the old man increased a thousand fold. He was not wanted in England and he had been kicked out of various places around the world. All I could think about was that no one wanted this brilliant man and the treasures he had to offer.'

Denied entry into Gibraltar, the Royal Scotman continued into the Mediterranean under her emergency steering and set a course for the little principality of Monaco, where Hubbard hoped he would be more welcome. Food and water was running low and the cook was reduced to serving soup made with seawater by the time the ship hove to off Monte Carlo in early December. She was too big to enter the harbour, but the port authorities agreed to her being "re-fuelled and re-provisioned by lighters, and engineers were brought on board to repair the steering. From Monaco, the Royal Scotman sailed to Cagliari in Sardinia, where she docked for the first time since leaving Southampton.

If Hubbard had a reason for visiting Sardinia, he kept it to himself. While they were there, he received a cable which brought on another paroxysm of uncontrolled rage and sent everyone around him diving for cover. The Avon River had been caught in hurricane-force storms north of the Balearic Islands: much of the deck gear had been swept overboard and the terrified crew were very shaken up. As Hubbard read the cable his face began to twitch. He strode to the chart table, stabbed at it madly with his finger and bellowed, 'What were they doing up there?'

John O'Keefe, the unhappy Scientologist who had been given command of the Avon River, had muddled his instructions and was miles off course when he ran into the storm. He should have been far to the south of the Balearics, heading for a rendezvous with the Royal Scotman in Cagliari. Hubbard was still seething when the Avon River finally limped into the harbour at Cagliari. He refused to speak to O'Keefe and ordered a Committee of Evidence (a Com-Ev in Scientology-speak) to be convened, which inevitably found O'Keefe guilty of dereliction of duty. He was assigned a lower condition, stripped of his post and given a lowly job in the engine room. O'Keefe, who thought he had done well to save his ship, was devastated.

This humbling ritual cast something of a pall over the Christmas celebrations, after which the Commodore ordered both ships back across the Mediterranean to Valencia in Spain - a five hundred-mile voyage completed without incident, no doubt to the relief of both crews. Tied up alongside in Valencia harbour, O'Keefe sought out his friend Hana Eltringham. 'I was shocked by his condition,' she said. 'He had lost about twenty pounds and looked like a skeleton with hollow eyes and sunken cheeks. It was unbelievable. He told me he was thinking of leaving and I began to think about it too. It was the first time I really questioned what was going on. I mulled it over for about a week, but in the end I couldn't go. I came back to the view that I was a solid Sea Org member and that in order to achieve freedom I had to fight for it, that it wasn't necessarily an easy road and that I would have to overcome obstacles and encounter suppression. It was a critical moment, but I managed to suppress any desire to leave and get away from the insanity.'

No such doubts assailed Stanley Churcher, one of the three professional seamen on the Royal Scotman. Hired as the ship's carpenter in Southampton, he was thoroughly sick of his ship-mates by the time they reached Valencia. Placed in a 'condition of doubt' for 'defying an order, encouraging desertion, tolerating mutinous meetings and attempting to suborn the chief engineer', Mr Churcher employed a few choice words to tell the Scientologist officers what he thought of their 'mumbo-jumbo' and was promptly sacked.

Back in England, Churcher told his story to the People, one of Britain's saucier Sunday newspapers, who gleefully published it under the headline 'AHOY THERE - It's the craziest cruise on earth' along with pictures of the ship and L. Ron Hubbard, described as the 'boss' of the 'mind-bending cult' of Scientology. Mr Churcher was withering in his disdain. 'There were seven officers of this Scientology lot,' he said, 'who used to swank about in blue and gold-braid uniforms, but I reckon they knew next to nothing about seamanship. Four of them were women. Hubbard called himself the Commodore and had four different types of peaked cap. Hubbard's wife, who had an officer's uniform made for her, seemed to enjoy playing sailors.

'Every day they went below for lectures, but we seamen were never admitted. It was all so blooming mysterious I tried to find out more. I offered to give them seamanship lectures and they were so pleased at these they gave me a free beginner's course in Scientology. I was give a test on their E-meter, a sort of lie detector, and a woman officer asked me a lot of personal questions, including details of my sex life. The oldest student was a woman of seventy-five who told me she was convinced that Mr Hubbard would fix her up with a new body when she died.

'I couldn't make head nor tail of it.'[11]

1. Letter from assistant secretary, Explorers Club, 8 December 1966 
2. Interview with Kemp

3.Mission into Time, L. Ron Hubbard, 1973

4.. Interview with Virginia Downsborough, Santa Barbera, CA., August 1986 
5. Despatch from LRH, 22 April 1967

6. Cults of Unreason, Christopher Evans, 1973

7. Interview with Amos Jessup, San Diego, July 1986

8. Interview with Hana Eltringham, Los Angeles, March 1986

9. HCO Policy Letter, 26 Sept 1967 
10. Interview with McMaster

11. The People, 21 February 1968

Bare-Faced Messiah By  Russell Miller, Chapter 17 In Search of Past Lives

The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard is a posthumous biography of Scientology founder

L. Ron Hubbard by British journalist Russell Miller.

Originally published: 26 October1987 Author: Russell Miller, Genre: Biography,

Page count: 380,

Publisher: Michael Joseph, Subject: L. Ron Hubbard

A clarification here: in August 1968, the highest level of Operating Thetan was seven, not eight. A Class VIII auditor could take Scientologists to this exalted state. O.T. Level VIII was not written until the 1980s. -- Dave Bird

Bare-Faced Messiah By  Russell Miller, Chapter 17 In Search of Past Lives

Two members of the Sea Org hoist an unfortunate Scientologist overboard. This photo, taken by Hubbard himself, was published in The Auditor, issue 41, 1968. The editor thought it was a little joke on Hubbard's part; hence, the tongue-in-cheek caption. Of course, it was anything but a joke, and the unfortunate editor was himself sent to the RPF when Hubbard read the article. @pgplate(292)

The family Church of Scientology business Hubbard and his daughter Diana. At 17, she was a senior officer on the flagship.jpg

The family business: Hubbard and his daughter Diana. At 17, she was a senior officer on the flagship. (Copyright © Times Newspapers Ltd.)


(Scientology's account of the years 1968-69.)

*   *   *   *   *

Soon after the Royal Scotman docked in Valencia a group of students flew in from Saint Hill to take a 'clearing course' on board the ship. One of them was a pretty, dark-eyed New Yorker called Mary Maren:

'I had a friend in dance class in New York who was into Scientology and he told me about it. They sounded like an interesting group of people and I thought it would be useful to have this exact scientific technology at my disposal. I read Dianetics and it made a lot of sense to me.

'By 1967 I was doing the briefing course at Saint Hill and I saw some people who had come back from this mysterious sea project. One of the guys was terrified, really scared; I had no idea why he was in such a state. Two weeks later more came back. They had lost a lot of weight and looked overwhelmed, as if they had seen some kind of monster in the sea. Later I discovered that they had been cleaning cattle dung out of the ship's hold for two weeks, but I didn't know it at the time. I said to my husband, Artie, I'm never going to join the Sea Org.

'I forgot all that when we all got on a plane to do the clearing course. It was called the New Year Freedom Flight. I'd never been to Spain before and it all seemed very exciting. At that time the ship looked clean, kinda nice. The stateroom I was given was very small and cramped, but everything looked kinda spiffed up. The atmosphere was very congenial.

'LRH was on the ship and in a real jolly mood. He used to stay up late at night on the deck and talk to us into the wee hours about his whole track adventures, how he was a race-car driver in the Marcab civilization. The Marcab civilization existed millions of years ago on another planet; it was similar to planet earth in the 'fifties, only they had space travel. Marcabians turned out later not to be good guys so it wasn't a compliment that their civilization was similar to ours. LRH said he was a race driver called the Green Dragon who set a speed record before he was killed in an accident. He came back in another lifetime as the Red Devil and beat his own record, then came back and did it again as the Blue Streak. Finally he realized all he was doing was breaking his own records and it was no game any more.

'People would stand around listening to these stories for hours, very over-awed. At the time it seemed a privilege and honour to share these things, to hear him talking about things that went on millions of years ago like it was yesterday. It was usually entertaining, but I sometimes found it very stressful to take it all in, this powerful, booming outflow, and it was hard to get away. One night I was getting dizzy and dared to ask if I could leave early. I could hear my voice echoing in the cosmos as I said, "If you'll excuse me, I have to go to bed, sir." He said, "OK, sure."'[1]

Talking about his past lives to an adoring, captive audience was one of Hubbard's favourite recreational activities. His stories, no matter how outrageous, were always treated seriously, for everyone on the ship was a dedicated Scientologist committed to the concept of past lives and immortality. It was not in the least improbable to Mary Maren, or any of the others who listened to Hubbard talking on the deck of the Royal Scotman on those warm Spanish nights, that he had been a Marcabian racing driver.

One of the recurring features of Hubbard's past lives on this planet was a penchant for secreting his worldly goods underground and one of the frustrations of his present life was his inability to find them. He was deeply disappointed that his cruises round the Canary Islands in the Enchanter had not resulted in replacing the schooner's ballast with gold bars, but now he had more time, more ships and more personnel at his disposal and in February 1968, he asked for volunteers to accompany him on a special mission on the Avon River.

Amos Jessup was among the first to step forward. 'He didn't tell us ahead of time what we were going to do, but it didn't matter to me, I'd have followed him through the gates of Hell if I had to. I was glad to do anything for him because I felt that what he had done to help others was so great an accomplishment he deserved whatever help I could offer. People felt he was a miracle worker, someone who had demonstrated a far higher level of competence than anything we could aspire to. It was as exciting and stimulating as hell to be with him. You had to be on your toes, put out your maximum effort, but it was always very refreshing and therapeutic.'[2]

Hubbard accepted thirty-five volunteers for the mission and for the next few weeks conducted daily training sessions on the deck of the Avon River, often watched by envious students hanging over the rails of the Royal Scotman moored alongside in Valencia harbour. With a stop watch in one hand, the Commodore put the crew through innumerable drills to rescue men overboard, fight fires, handle lines, launch and retrieve small boats and repel boarders - he told them he was worried about piracy in the Mediterranean and wanted to be sure they would not panic if that circumstance arrived.

At the beginning of March the Avon River set sail, leaving the Royal Scotman seething with speculation about the nature of her mission. She headed east, back across the Mediterranean once again, and anchored in a sheltered bay off Cap Carbonara, on the south-east coast of Sardinia, where Hubbard mustered the crew on the well deck for a briefing. Standing on a hatch cover so that he could be seen, he told them he was on the threshold of achieving an ambition he had cherished for centuries in earlier lives. This was the first lifetime he had been able to build an organization with sufficient resources, money and manpower to tackle the project they were about to undertake. He had accumulated vast wealth in previous lives, he explained, and had buried it in strategic places. The purpose of their present mission was to locate this buried treasure and retrieve it, either with, or without, the co-operation of the authorities.

Several members of the crew were unable to suppress gasps of excitement at this prospect and he smiled broadly before continuing. To the best of his recollection, when he was the Commander of a fleet of war galleys two thousand years ago, there was a temple somewhere on the coast close to where they were anchored. It was called the Temple of Tenet and the high priestess was a charming lady who, he said with a wink, had 'warmed the hearts of sailors'. His intention was to put several parties ashore next morning to search for the ruins of the temple and the secret entrance where he had buried a cache of gold plates and goblets.

'It was an electrifying idea,' said Jessup. 'We all thought it was high adventure. Here was this guy who had cracked through the age-old mystery of the human condition, had dug into, and uncovered, every aspect of human shortcoming, now broaching into a new area, going to sea with a bunch of people in the Mediterranean and digging up buried treasure. It didn't matter to me if it was true or not, what mattered was being able to play a game that LRH had designed. If it was important to him, I would do the best I could.'

The ruins of the Temple of Tenet at first proved difficult to trace, until Hubbard realized that his recollection was based on ancient sailing instructions whereas he had selected the search area using a modern chart. Once this obstacle had been overcome the ruins were soon found, an event which caused a predictable stir on board the Avon River only marginally spoiled by the discovery that the site was clearly marked as an ancient monument - it might have been more sensible to locate the temple by looking at a guide book.

The fact that the temple was a known ruin also made it rather difficult for the Scientologists to begin sweeping the area with their metal detectors, let alone starting to dig, without arousing the suspicion of the locals. Although one group reported encountering what appeared to be the hidden entrance and a surreptitious probe with a metal detector was positive, Hubbard decided merely to note their findings and move on.

While the search parties wrote up detailed reports of everything they had found, the Avon River headed south towards the coast of north Africa, to Tunis, where the ancient civilization of Carthage flourished before the birth of Christ. Hubbard said he knew a Carthaginian priest who had hidden a treasure trove of jewels and gold in a temple which he thought he could find. Moored in the harbour of the Tunisian port of Bizerte, the Commodore briefed his eager search parties by making a clay model of what he could recall of the topography around the temple; they were told to scour the coastline for a 'matching' landscape. He was almost always waiting on the deck when the shore parties returned, impatient to know what they had discovered. Sure enough, they found the site of the temple just as he had described it, but erosion had destroyed the secret tunnel which led to where the treasure was hidden. Hubbard went out to the site, confirmed that they had found the right place and pointed out where the erosion had taken place.

Although they had not yet retrieved any treasure, there was not a man or woman on the mission who was not encouraged by what they had discovered thus far. From Bizerte, the Avon River moved along the coast to La Goulette, the outer harbour of Tunis, where an attempt was made to explore the ruins of an underwater city. Their scuba equipment proved unequal to the task and Hubbard mocked up another clay model of yet another temple site, which this time was found to be occupied by a government office building.

While at La Goulette, Joe van Staden, the captain of the Avon River, offended the Commodore in some way, was promptly dismissed and replaced by Hana Eltringham. 'I was working in the between decks area,' she recalled, 'when LRH called me over and said, "You're going to be the new Captain." I went completely numb; I was terrified. I can remember sitting at my desk with my head in my hands muttering, "Oh my God, oh my God." As I sat there I suddenly became aware of him standing in the doorway of his cabin beckoning to me. I got up and walked over to him. He had an E-meter in one hand and he thrust the cans at me and said, "Hold these." I stood there in the doorway while he was fiddling with the meter and then he said, "I want you to recall the last time you were Captain."

'Through the confusion and fear I was experiencing, my first thought was that this was ridiculous. Then I started to get vague impressions of a time in some past life when I was the Captain of a ship and there was a storm at sea. He said, "Very good, very good" and asked me to go back earlier and I got a very vivid flash of space ships and space travel. It was very real, not an imaginary thing at all. I told him what I had seen, that I was on some space ship being called urgently to my land base. We were going back as fast as we could when we were blown up in space by some enemy. That was followed by confusion and some spinning motion as if the space ship was disintegrating. He had me go through it again and the effects of the experience subsided a lot. "Good," he said, "very good." That was it.

'I went up on the deck and felt the fear and terror in my stomach just disappear. I suddenly felt very able, very competent to tackle anything that came along. Next morning I had to take the ship from one side of La Goulette harbour to the other for re-fuelling, then pick up a pilot to take us out. I thought he would come out and help. No way. I saw him open the curtains of his cabin for a moment, smile to himself a little bit, then close them. I thought, "The old sod isn't even going to give me a hand."'[3]

A few hours out of La Goulette, on an easterly course towards Sicily, steam began pouring from the hatches over the engine room. Cabbie Runcie, the ship's chief engineer, who was the only 'wog' (the Scientologist's name for a non-Scientologist) on board, appeared on the bridge wiping his hands with an oily rag to announce that a piston ring in the high-pressure cylinder had blown and that they would have to stop for repairs. Runcie was nearly seventy years old, a bald, toothless, taciturn, pipe-smoking Scot who preferred to keep his own counsel and Hubbard was both surprised and irritated by his temerity, particularly as he was a 'wog'. The Commodore ordered Hana to stay on course at the same speed, whereupon Runcie disappeared down the steps to the engine room muttering, 'This is madness, this is stupidity.' It was his only recorded comment on the entire voyage.

Steam was still pouring from the engine hatches when the Avon River dropped anchor off the little fishing port of Castellammare on the north coast of Sicily. Thoroughly unconcerned by the banging and swearing from the engine room, Hubbard gathered a small group on the deck and pointed out their next objective - an old watch tower just visible on a high promontory overlooking the harbour. He decreed that the search should take place under cover of darkness and at dusk that evening the search party set out in a rubber dinghy to reconnoitre the watch tower.

They returned several hours later in a state of high excitement, having registered strong readings on a metal detector in one corner of the watch tower. The following night another expedition was mounted, this time armed with shovels. The crew of the Avon River waited with nerves on edge, but there was no brass-bound chest in the bottom of the dinghy when it bumped against the side of the ship - the rocky foundations of the watch tower had proved too much for shovels. Hubbard, who appeared quite as disappointed as everyone else, said he did not think it was worth wasting any more time at the site. He promised to send the Enchanter back at a later date to find the owner of the land and negotiate its purchase in order to conduct a thorough excavation.

From Sicily, the Avon River sailed across the Straits of Messina to the 'toe' of Italy, anchoring off the barren, rocky coastline of Calabria, which had been Hubbard's territory when he was a tax collector at the time of the Roman empire. Not an entirely honest tax collector, however, for he said he had hidden gold in sacred stone shrines along the coast, figuring that they were less likely to be vandalized.

Two small boats were put ashore with search parties, but none of the shrines could he found. The Avon River steamed up and down the coast while look-outs swept the shore with binoculars, but still to no avail. Hubbard concluded that the coast had been eroded and the shrines washed into the sea, along with all his hidden gold.