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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Alloysious Massaquoi, 'G' Hastings and Kayus Bankole of Young Fathers are the surprise winners of this year's Mercury Music Prize
musicThe surprise winners of the Mercury Prize – and a very brief acceptance speech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
News
video
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: English Teacher - Saffron ...

Primary Supply Teacher - Northants

£90 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Primary School Supply Teache...

Maths Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Maths Teacher - Saffro...

Chemistry Teacher - Top School in Malaysia - January Start

£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain