Caplin 'recruited' for therapy cult investigated by police

The Exegesis cult, the controversial 1980s organisation that counted Cherie Blair's friend Carole Caplin among its adherents, was once condemned as "dangerous and profoundly wrong" by a Government minister, while some members have attacked its confrontational therapy methods as "brainwashing'' and "humiliating".

At one point claiming to have 5,000 members, Exegesis grew out of the exotic alternative therapy organisations that flowered on the West Coast of America in the 1960s and were aimed at helping people with their "personal development". These included organisations such as the Rev Jim Jones's People's Temple, whose followers committed mass suicide in 1978 in Guyana in South America, and the supporters of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who set up a community in the north-west of the United States.

Exegesis' leader was a Rolls-Royce driving Briton, Robert D'Aubigny (real name Fuller), the son of a meat salesman from Essex. He had originally been a follower of a California-based therapy system called Est, which itself had come out of the fracture of two organisations – Mindynamics and Leadership Dynamics – in the late 1960s.

According to the London-based Cult Information Centre (CIC), which monitors such organisations, Exegesis was a "therapy'' cult – concerned with the personal and individual development of its followers, as opposed to "religious'' cults, which focused on geopoliticial or spiritual issues.

In the early 1980s, Exegesis recruited people by saying that its therapy methods could solve personal problems. "If you had a problem with your work or, for instance, your partner, they would tell you that Exegesis would help by making you get in touch with your true self, that you would become more assertive and communicate more effectively. But they were telling people what they wanted to hear," said Ian Howarth of the CIC.

Recruits would pay about £200 to attend two or three-day courses with Exegesis trainers where, according to various accounts given at the time, they would be screamed and shouted at, abused, forced to reveal their sexual fantasies and ordered not to leave the room.

It was at some of these meetings that Ms Caplin, a former topless cover girl and rock group member, was said to have been seen "guarding doors" at therapy sessions.

Ms Caplan was also said to have worked as a recruiter and trainer for the organisation. Once they had been brought in, new members would be encouraged to recruit more members and then persuaded to attend more specialised – and expensive – courses "to keep them topped up," said Mr Howarth.

Mr D'Aubigny, whose whereabouts are unknown, also ran a company called Programmes, which raised funds for his organisation by employing Exegesis recruits as telesales workers.

In 1984, concerns about the Exegesis programme were raised in the Commons by several MPs who cited cases of people who had become disturbed after attending some of the courses.

David Mellor, then a Home Office minister, condemned the organisation as "puerile, dangerous and profoundly wrong". Scotland Yard conducted an investigation but no charges were ever brought and Exegesis collapsed shortly afterwards.

Suggested Topics
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
film
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Goalkeeping howler allows Man City to scrap a draw – but Premier League title is Liverpool's to lose
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
News
Ethical matters: pupils during a philosophy lesson
educationTaunton School's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Consultant – Building Management

up to £45,000 + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Green ...

Senior Industrial Energy Consultant

Up to £45,000 + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Green ...

Mechanical Building Services Energy Engineer

up to £45K basic + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Gr...

Building Services Energy Engineer

up to £45K basic + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Gr...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal