Bhagwan pair try lie detector

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The Independent Online
THE RESULTS of lie detector experiments will be presented as evidence to an English judge for the first time in legal history this week in an attempt to stop two women being deported to the United States to face trial.

Sally Croft, 43, a City accountant, and Susan Hagan, 47, an aromatherapist, have passed controversial polygraph 'truth tests' in which they denied they had been involved in a conspiracy in 1985 to kill Charles Turner, a federal investigator who was investigating a commune set up by the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in Oregon.

Both women were senior members of the commune, which collapsed amid allegations that followers of the 'sex guru' - who preached a message of free love - had tried to poison local opponents. Ms Croft, who was the Bhagwan's financial adviser, and Ms Hagan, who was a member of the commune's inner circle of leaders, fled home to England.

Six years later, the Americans applied for their deportation on conspiracy charges, which carry a maximum sentence of 25 years imprisonment. The Americans concede that no attempt was made on Mr Turner's life. But the FBI allege that guns were brought to assassinate the attorney.

They claim that Ms Croft provided money for the guns and Ms Hagan watched Mr Turner's house. The women's lawyers point out that all the evidence against their clients comes from ex-members of the commune, who had made plea bargains with the US authorities on condition they provided evidence against Ms Croft and Ms Hagan.

At the High Court on Thursday, Ms Croft and Ms Hagan will submit the results of lie detector tests in an attempt to get the judges to order the Home Secretary to reconsider his decision.

Lie detectors are widely used in the United States, but have never been accepted by the British courts before because lawyers and civil liberties campaigners claim that they are far from infallible.

But Jeremy Barrett, of the London-based Polygraph Security Services, said he was 'absolutely convinced of the women's innocence' after measuring their pulse, breathing and sweat levels.