Scientologists Woo Police With Gifts Worth Thousands

Source: Daily Mail
Date: November 22, 2006

Police officers have accepted gifts worth thousands of pounds from the Church of Scientology, it emerged yesterday.

The wealthy religious movement has spent the money cultivating contacts in the City of London force.

Officers received free invitations to film premieres and a Pounds 500 a head charity dinner where the guest of honour was Tom Cruise.

The force was also provided with free use of a Pounds 5,000 a night jazz band called Jive Aces to play at a police function.

An internal review of the force's hospitality policy was launched last night after the Daily Mail obtained details of the gifts by using Freedom of Information legislation.

Sources inside the City police have described the church as "grooming" selected officers in the hope of winning powerful influence inside the force.

Yet nearly all the gifts received the official approval of senior officers.

Other forces in Britain have banned staff from having contact with the Church of Scientology, who believe humans are descended from an exiled race of aliens called Thetans.

Devotees targeted the force in the run-up to the establishment of a Pounds 24million centre in the City, which opened last month. During the ceremony the force's lead officer on 'faith issues', Chief Superintendent Kevin Hurley, told the audience the church was a "force for good".

There is no suggestion Mr Hurley has personally benefited from any hospitality.

Sources within the force say that the church began targeting officers after the July 7 bombings last year. Since then officers have accepted at least nine offers of formal hospitality.

They include a trip to the premiere of Mission: Impossible III in Leicester Square in April, which was also attended by Scientologist Cruise, the film's star.

Four officers went to a Pounds 500-ahead charity dinner at the Scientologists' British base in East Grinstead, East Sussex, last month, where Cruise was again present.

The officers invited were Chief Superintendent Ken Stewart, a Special Branch detective, a constable and a detective constable.

The Scientologists have also donated Pounds 6,250 to the City of London Children's Charity.

Audrey Chaytor, of the Family Action Information Resource Centre, which works with families whose members have been indoctrinated into cults, said: "This is appalling. Police officers should not be accepting these kind of invitations. The Scientologists have one motive when they are doing this and that is to gain influence in the corridors of power." A City of London Police spokesman said: "We are conducting a review to ensure that all members of staff are aware of the force policy on accepting hospitality and to assess whether clarification or amendment of this policy is necessary."