Ex-Scientologist sues the cult for loss of girlfriend and business

A former member threatens to disclose the inner workings of the organisation to which he was 'persuaded to give substantial sums'

A businessman is suing the Church of Scientology for hundreds of thousands of pounds, claiming that he lost his girlfriend and business after she became indoctrinated by the controversial self-styled church.

David Craig, who at one time joined the Scientologists, claims that he was persuaded to pay out more than £170,000 to the "spiritual cult" after his partner, Irina Glaser, was recruited by Scientologists. When, however, Mr Craig threatened to fight for custody of their infant son, he claims that Scientologists told him he would be expelled if he did not use their own judicial system to determine the case. The Scientologists did not wish to use what they referred to as "wog courts" (a derogatory term for the mainstream legal system), according to court documents seen by The Independent on Sunday.

The 48-year-old, from Lyndhurst, Hampshire, eventually left the church in 2004, according to court papers. Now his impending High Court case threatens to expose the inner workings of the notoriously secretive organisation. Last week an Australian senator labelled Scientology a "criminal organisation", and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd hinted at his support for an inquiry into the organisation when he said: "I share some of those concerns."

In France, Scientology is currently embroiled in a landmark case where it has been accused of ruining lives and illegally prescribing drugs. The German government has recently moved to ban the organisation.

Founded by the science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard in 1954, Scientology now claims millions of supporters across the world, with the Hollywood stars Tom Cruise and John Travolta among famous devotees. Scientologists, who believe humans are descended from a race of aliens, claim that they can purify the human mind through a process called "auditing" or counselling.

Mr Craig claims that Ms Glaser joined the Scientologists after she attended a psychic fair in December 1999. Ms Glaser, who allegedly had "mental health issues", was attracted by the organisation's claim that it could cure all mental illnesses and that conventional psychiatry did not work. For several days afterwards the pair were allegedly "inundated" with calls from the Scientology mission in Poole, Dorset, in order to "encourage them to join the cult". In January 2000 the couple attended the mission and, after a "personal efficiency test", were told that auditing would rid Ms Glaser of her illness. She then "followed their advice and instruction", giving up her medication and undertaking a series of expensive courses. During 2001 she "immersed" herself in the organisation, eventually joining the staff at its East Grinstead headquarters in Sussex. She cut off almost anyone she was unable to persuade to join the church.

Mr Craig says he was "persuaded to give substantial sums of money to the cult" during 2001 and 2002 for Ms Glaser's treatment, his own auditing and the "work of the cult". But when he became "more concerned about the conduct of Irina Glaser" he told Scientologists at the Poole mission that he was prepared to go to court to fight for custody of their six-year-old son. Mr Craig was told by the Scientologists that he should use "the cult's own 'court'", the claim states.

After leaving the church in 2004, Mr Craig was told that he was expelled from the organisation because he had involved it in court hearings about his son. It is understood the boy now lives with his father. Mr Craig, who declined to comment, is claiming compensation for the loss of earnings and also the loss of his business. The church had told him not to challenge the loss of his business franchises in 2002, which he claims were worth £750,000. He is also claiming for legal fees.

The businessman claims that while he was "under the actual undue influence" of the church he also paid out £170,000 in fees and donations. Although £30,000 of this was repaid by the church, according to the court papers, he is now demanding the balance of £140,000.

Ms Glaser is believed to be a member of the church still. No date has yet been set for the full hearing. Mr Craig's solicitor, Clare Kirby, declined to comment.

A Church of Scientology spokeswoman said yesterday: "It is a nuisance, because it attempts to reopen something which was fully resolved in 2007. As far as we are concerned, it is in breach of the agreement Mr Craig made then. At a time when our church is enjoying unprecedented growth it is not unexpected that some disgruntled or self-serving individuals might seek to profit from our expansion, or for other reasons try to cause disruption."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?