Not Upheld: Complaint by Carter-Ruck Solicitors on behalf of Church of Scientology

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Not Upheld: Complaint by Carter-Ruck Solicitors on behalf of The Church of Scientology International

First, HT Marty: War on “Scientologists at War”
http://markrathbun.wordpress.com/2014/02/18/war-on-scientologists-at-war/

David Miscavige and his Scientology Inc picked yet another losing war against freedom of the press and of speech. This one was an official complaint and proceeding launched against UK Channel Four and Roast Beef Productions for their documentary Scientologists at War. Of course, only the finest and most expensive lawyers that could be bought in London took up the Scientology cudgel. The results were published in the official publication of England’s official agency (Ofcom) tasked with upholding standards of fairness in media. The Scientology case can be found at page 43 of OfComm’s latest journal. It is an informative read.

Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, Issue number 248, 17 February 2014, pg. 43
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/enforcement/broadcast-bulletins/obb248/obb248.pdf

Not Upheld Complaint by Carter-Ruck Solicitors on behalf of The Church of Scientology International Scientologists at War, Channel 4, 17 June 2013

Summary

Ofcom has not upheld this complaint made by Carter-Ruck Solicitors (“Carter-Ruck”) on behalf of The Church of Scientology International (the “Church”) of unjust or unfair treatment in the programme as broadcast.
The programme examined the views of contributors who were critical of some practices claimed to be sanctioned by the Church. A number of those contributors interviewed for the programme were former members of the Church, including Mr Marty Rathbun, who the programme said would expose some of “the inner secrets of Scientology”.

Ofcom found that the broadcaster:

Took reasonable care to satisfy itself that the programme did not present, disregard or omit material facts, in particular with regards to Mr Rathbun’s background, in a way that resulted in unfairness to the Church.

Reflected the position of the Church in a fair manner.

Introduction and programme summary

On 17 June 2013, Channel 4 broadcast Scientologists at War, a documentary which examined the views of contributors who were critical of some practices claimed to be sanctioned by the Church. A number of those contributors interviewed were former members of the organisation. The documentary was 55 minutes long.
The programme explained that the Church was established in the 1950s by Mr L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer, who developed the self help philosophy “dianetics” as an alternative to psychotherapy. One of the principal contributors interviewed in the programme was Mr Marty Rathbun who, the introduction to the programme said, would expose “the inner secrets of Scientology, as the tactics he once devised are used against him”.

The documentary said that in 1977 Mr Rathbun had become interested in the Church and had signed “a billion year contract” with the organisation to make Scientology his life’s work and went on to spend 27 years within the Church’s “elite Sea Organisation”. Mr Rathbun worked in Mr Hubbard’s “personal service” and worked closely with Mr David Miscavige, who took control of the Church after Mr Hubbard’s death in 1984.

The programme said that Mr Rathbun was promoted to “one of the most powerful positions in Scientology...keeping Scientology free from subversion”. He was put in charge of “punishing” anyone who questioned either Mr Hubbard or Mr Miscavige. Mr Rathbun said in the programme that, while in the Church, he did this by putting any dissenters in a “prison camp essentially, a behaviour modification camp” and that he
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was also a key architect of the Church’s “Office of Special Affairs”, which is “the legal and public affairs arm of the Church, who take an active interest in defectors”.

The programme explained that Mr Rathbun fell out with Mr Miscavige over his friendship with, and influence over, the actor and Scientologist Mr Tom Cruise. As a result, Mr Rathbun fell “out of favour and in February 2004 found himself in a behaviour modification facility he knows as ‘the hole’”. The programme stated that: “The Church denies the existence of any such place, but confirms at the end of 2003 he [Mr Rathbun] was assigned for correction and reposting”.

Mr Rathbun said that at this facility people were interrogated, punched, kicked and had “water balls” thrown at them until they confessed to “nefarious intentions against David Miscavige”. The programme said that the biggest fear of those at the facility was being expelled from the Church, which had become their “family”. Mr Rathbun said that on one occasion, Mr Miscavige had instigated a game of “musical chairs” at the facility in which the loser would be sent off the base and barred from the Church. Mr Rathbun said that the participants in the game fought strenuously to avoid losing, throwing people against walls and that Mr Miscavige encouraged this behaviour. Mr Rathbun said that he concluded that Mr Miscavige was “stark staring mad” as a result of this event. The programme illustrated Mr Rathbun’s description of the musical chairs incident with a dramatic reconstruction. The programme stated:

“The Church described the game [musical chairs] as an educational exercise and say that Marty’s version of events is exaggerated and that there was no violence then, or in confessionals”.

Mr Rathbun explained that “I’m not the type to be in prison and I am not going to be in prison” and that immediately after this incident of “musical chairs” he slipped away from the group as they walked through the grounds and found his motorbike. He explained that members had to have permission to leave through the security gate and so therefore he waited for a delivery truck to pass through before following it out riding his motorbike. The programme explained that, not long after this, Mr Rathbun was “persuaded” to return and was put to work in a Scientology carpentry mill and stripped of his status and standing. However, soon after Mr Rathbun left the Church for good and went into hiding in Texas.

The programme said that after a period of time Mr Rathbun began practising Scientology “independently” and blogging his views on the Church. The broadcast commented that his blog became a rallying point for disaffected Scientologists all over the world, and Mr Rathbun was shown in the programme discussing his views with other “independent” Scientologists.

At the end of the programme, it was explained that Mr Rathbun had “rejected the label of Scientology”, but that the Independent Scientology movement continued. The documentary also included a statement from the Church which said:

“The Church of Scientology states that Marty Rathbun has never been a part of its ecclesiastical management and although he has been publicly attacking the Church for four years, his claims have had no discernible effect whatsoever”.

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Summary of the complaint and the broadcaster’s response

a) Carter-Ruck complained on behalf of the Church that it was unjustly or unfairly treated in the programme as broadcast because the material facts were presented, disregarded or omitted in a way that was unfair to the Church. In particular, it said that the programme contained no warning to viewers about Mr Rathbun’s alleged unreliability and credibility when it came to his views on the Church, despite information about this being provided to the programme makers in advance of the programme’s broadcast. Carter-Ruck also said that the programme should have informed viewers of Mr Rathbun’s background so that they could take this into account when considering the veracity of his claims and the Church’s denial of those claims. Carter-Ruck said that the programme failed to inform viewers that Mr Rathbun:

had previously admitted lying to the media;

had previously admitted destroying Church documents in relation to a court case;

had been accused of making false claims, in an affidavit by a US court judge;

had made previously inconsistent statements concerning matters raised in the programme, specifically the events surrounding his decision to leave the Church; and

had been arrested in New Orleans for public intoxication and disturbing the peace; and in a separate incident, arrested in San Patricio County, Texas for assault causing bodily injury to a Scientologist.


In response, Channel 4 said the documentary was fair and that no material facts either included in or omitted from the programme caused unfairness to the Church. Channel 4 stated that it sought the Church’s response to significant allegations in the programme in an appropriate and timely manner and reflected its position fairly in the programme. It said too that the Church had had every opportunity to provide a spokesperson for interview, however, declined to do so.

Channel 4 pointed out the importance of broadcasters and programme makers being able to make editorial choices regarding what to include in a programme and what not to include and about how that material should be presented. It said that the “right of reply” process was the proper means by which an individual or organisation should be given the opportunity to respond to significant allegations, and that it was then incumbent upon the programme maker and broadcaster to consider any response (and other relevant material) received and decide what material facts needed to be reflected in the programme in the interests of fairness and accuracy. It said that not every assertion put forward by the subject of a broadcast must be included in a programme and only material facts must be reflected where not to do so would be unfair, when judged in the context of the programme as a whole.

Channel 4 said that it considered that all proper steps were taken to assess the credibility of Mr Rathbun and that due regard was paid to the material provided by Carter-Ruck on behalf of the Church in preparing the programme.

Channel 4 added that the programme makers had fully complied with the requirements under Ofcom’s Broadcasting Code in relation to providing the Church with an opportunity to respond to the allegations to be made in the programme. It provided Ofcom with copies of the substantial correspondence

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between the programme makers and Carter-Ruck and the Church. Channel 4 argued that the Church’s position was reflected fairly in the programme. It said that the Church had had every opportunity to provide a spokesperson for interview, however, declined to do so.

Channel 4 set out how Mr Rathbun was portrayed in the programme. It said that, since leaving the Church, Mr Rathbun had claimed consistently that his former role was as an “enforcer” which, he claimed, involved him in tactics and “dirty tricks” that involved elements of dishonesty and violence. It said that the programme makers had taken great care to show the audience the kind of man Mr Rathbun once was. It pointed out that the programme’s pre-titles showed Mr Rathbun being arrested, handcuffed and put into a police car after he was also shown telling the “Squirrel Busters”1 to “shut the fuck up”. The programme’s voiceover stated that Mr Rathbun: “…lifts the lid on the inner secrets of Scientology, as the tactics he once helped devise are used against him”. Channel 4 said viewers were told in the opening sequence of the programme about Mr Rathbun’s former role:

“As this Church publication reveals, his role was tasked with ‘keeping Scientology free from subversion’. He ruthlessly defended Miscavige’s regime and protected its innermost secrets”.

Channel 4 provided examples of scenes in the programme which it said repeatedly made it clear to viewers the type of aggressive behaviour Mr Rathbun admitted that he had previously engaged in. The programme detailed Mr Rathbun’s acknowledgement of his past transgressions. For example, Mr Rathbun was asked: “In some ways are they [the “Squirrel Busters”] using your own tactics back on you?” He answered: “Yeah, it’s my own tactics back on me, in terms of surveillance. In a way it’s my karma, you know. I’ve done it to others, and so in a way it’s – you reap what you sow”. Channel 4 said that the programme makers also put forward criticisms made of Mr Rathbun for him to answer. For example, the programme’s voiceover stated: “With Marty seemingly under attack from the Church, for many of his readers there was an obvious question”. The presenter then asked Mr Rathbun: “How do you feel now that you had those tricks used against you?” Mr Rathbun answered: “Well you see, I don’t…the question doesn’t. I don’t get the question. It’s not like I went out and then it happened to me and then I went ‘Oh! Jeez, that’s not alright’. I mean, I knew it wasn’t alright. That’s why I left”. Channel 4 also pointed out that the programme makers had, for example, asked Mr Rathbun’s wife, “Mosey”, for her opinion of what Mr Rathbun “…would have been like in the Church”:

“He would be someone, you know, if something was happening, you’d say to him ‘get it done’ and he’d get it done. And you know, if that included slamming someone against a fricking case, a bookcase, yeah that’s what happened”.

Channel 4 remarked that extracts such as the above demonstrated that viewers were reminded throughout the programme of Mr Rathbun’s background, so enabling them to come to their own view about Mr Rathbun’s character. Channel 4 said that viewers therefore had the opportunity to give due weight to Mr

1 Mr Rathbun explained in the programme that “Squirrel Busters” were “...trusted, high level Scientology members, organised by the Office of Special Affairs, the propaganda and dirty tricks arm of the Church of Scientology. Sent down to get in my face and to make my life a living hell”.


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Rathbun’s past when considering the veracity of claims he had made since leaving the Church.

Channel 4 pointed out that the programme also showed footage of an incident when Mr Rathbun was arrested by the police and of the arresting officer telling Mr Rathbun what the arrest warrant was for. The programme showed an extract of a video called “Marty Rathbun: Violent Psychopath, Cult Militia Leader”, credited to “Squirrel Buster Productions”, in which the voiceover stated:

“…even when he [Mr Rathbun]’s being arrested, handcuffed and booked for assault with bodily harm, there’s king pin Rathbun sticking to that well worn story that, no, he wouldn’t even hurt a fly”.

Given the above, Channel 4 said that it did not agree with Carter-Ruck’s assertion that the programme contained “…no warnings whatsoever to viewers of the programme about Mr Rathbun’s background”.

Channel 4 also commented in turn on each of the examples listed by Carter-Ruck of information about Mr Rathbun which it considered should have been included in the programme. Channel 4’s response to each is summarised below:

Mr Rathbun had previously admitted lying to the media.

In support of this complaint, Carter-Ruck provided an extract from an interview with Mr Rathbun on the USA’s ABC’s Nightline, a late night news programme broadcast on 22 October 2009. Part of this exchange was as follows:

Interviewer: “Why did you speak to newspaper reporters and lie so blatantly?

Mr Rathbun: Because at the time I perceived that this guy [Mr Miscavige] was of the importance that we had to do it. [laughs] If I told the truth to a newspaper reporter about something like that, I would have been expelled from Scientology”.


Channel 4 said that this excerpt helped to explain Mr Rathbun’s motivation for lying to the press while he was a member of the Church. It pointed out that Mr Rathbun had raised two issues here: the importance of Mr Miscavige to the Church’s members and Mr Rathbun’s fear of being expelled from the Church, both of which were central issues explored in the programme. Channel 4 said that the fact that Mr Rathbun admitted in this interview to having lied was not a “material fact” and not a matter that the interests of fairness required to be included in the programme. Channel 4 said that, in any event, the programme repeatedly referred to Mr Rathbun (when he was a Church member) using dubious tactics to counter media criticism and dissenters, including, in his own words “quelling opposition or silencing critics” and how he would “shudder [journalists] into silence”. Channel 4 said that there was therefore no unfairness in this regard.

Mr Rathbun had previously admitted destroying Church documents in relation to a court case.

In response, Channel 4 said that this related to the case of Ms Lisa McPherson, a mentally ill member of the Church who died under its care in

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December 1995. In 2009, the press had reported that Mr Rathbun, who had for years insisted that the Church had done nothing wrong with regards to the death of Ms McPherson, had come forward and said that he and others in the Church had destroyed incriminating evidence. Channel 4 referred to an article in The Guardian2 newspaper which stated that Mr Rathbun had “recently told the St Petersburg Times the Church botched the woman’s case from the start” and reported that:

“Rathbun said he initially wanted to go to the state attorney’s office after the 36-year-old’s death, but instead followed the Church’s culture to never admit fault. He and others removed papers from McPherson’s files, including a caretaker’s opinion that the situation was out of control and the patient needed a doctor. ‘I said, ‘Lose ‘em,’ and walked out of the room,’ Rathbun told the newspaper”.

The programme did not mention the McPherson case. However, Channel 4 said that the above was an example of how Mr Rathbun claimed he “ruthlessly defended Miscavige’s regime and protected its innermost secrets”, as illustrated in the programme. In this case Mr Rathbun admitted of his own accord to destroying evidence, having previously maintained for many years that the Church had done nothing wrong. Channel 4 said that this was entirely consistent with the picture of Mr Rathbun presented in the programme – “as someone who now regretted past tactics he had employed by his own admission on behalf, he claims, of the Church of Scientology”. Channel 4 stated that the admission by Mr Rathbun that he had previously destroyed potentially incriminating evidence in the McPherson case was not a “material fact” that the programme should have included. It said that there was no unfairness in not referring to this specific admission in the documentary.

Mr Rathbun had been accused of making false claims, in an affidavit by a US court judge.

Channel 4 said that, in relation to the above case, Carter-Ruck had drawn its attention to an affidavit dated 4 December 2012 of The Honorable Judge Robert E Beach, who was a senior circuit judge in Pinellas County, Florida, at the time of the case. Carter-Ruck stated:

“This [affidavit] concerns false testimony of Mr Rathbun about the Lisa McPherson case which involved our client. We observe that if Mr Rathbun is prepared to make up false claims in a court of law as set out by Judge Beach, plainly he will be prepared to do likewise for the purposes of your planned programme”.

In the affidavit itself, Judge Beach said that:

“Mr Rathbun has testified that the Church of Scientology hired a local attorney named Lee Fugate to influence the Judges of Pinellas County in the Lisa McPherson case. Mr Rathbun testified that Mr Fugate influenced the judges to have me appointed as a Master to supervise the taking of deposition and later to take over the McPherson case upon Judge Susan Schaeffer’s self recusal from the case. Mr Rathbun further testified that Mr Fugate told him we were ‘old buds – going way back.’ Further, Mr 2 http://www.theguardian.com/world/feedarticle/8571173.

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Rathbun testified Mr Fugate ‘was in very tight communication with Beach’. Mr Rathbun went on to say Mr Fugate said I was meeting Mr Fugate ‘at a bar down, um, um, down in St Petersburg and uh, and uh, you know, extensive contacts.’”

Judge Beach refuted this, stating:

“...I have never socialised with him [Mr Fugate], had meals with him, travelled with him, never met him in bars (I do not drink) and we are not ‘old buds’”.
Channel 4 stated that the analysis of this information, at the time of making the programme and now, led it to conclude that it was not relevant to the programme. It explained that Mr Rathbun provided a deposition in legal proceedings arising out of the McPherson case, brought by another Florida attorney, Mr Kennan Dandar. It said that Mr Dandar had made claims regarding the alleged bias of Judge Beach towards and in collusion with the Church. Channel 4 said that it was its understanding that these allegations made by Mr Dandar about Judge Beach were ultimately rejected and the claim dismissed by a higher court.
Channel 4 added that, importantly, the testimony of Mr Rathbun in his deposition in the McPherson case was evidently based on what he claimed he was told by Mr Fugate about Mr Fugate’s alleged relationship with Judge Beach. In his affidavit Judge Beach denied having a relationship with Mr Fugate or of any impropriety, as above. Channel 4 pointed to the fact that there was no mention in Judge Beach’s affidavit that Mr Rathbun was “prepared to make up false claims”, knew his testimony was false or that he colluded with Mr Fugate to give false testimony.

Channel 4 said that “whatever the rights and wrongs, it [the allegation that Mr Rathbun made up false claims] is entirely irrelevant to the programme”.

Channel 4 said that including discussion about a very complicated piece of litigation did not fit in with the purpose of the programme and that “any such discussion would not have served either the interests of fairness to the CSI [the Church] or the interests of viewers”. It said that a reference to the affidavit was not a “material fact” and to omit a reference to it did not cause unfairness to the Church.

Channel 4 commented that the programme did not present Mr Rathbun as someone who always told the truth and did the right thing, but repeatedly pointed out that, by his own admission, Mr Rathbun had done what he needed to in order to defend the Church’s interests and that this involved the use of questionable techniques. Channel 4 said that this allowed the audience to draw its own conclusions about Mr Rathbun’s credibility and the veracity of his claims.

Mr Rathbun had made previously inconsistent statements concerning matters raised in the programme, specifically the events surrounding his decision to leave the Church.

In its response, Channel 4 sought to clarify the situation with regards to the allegedly inconsistent versions Mr Rathbun gave of his departure from the Church.

It said that the two different versions of events which Carter-Ruck

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had identified related in fact to two different incidents. The first (as detailed in the “Introduction and programme summary” section above) occurred in February 2004 was set out in the documentary. The second (as detailed in the St Petersburg Times’ interview, in which Mr Rathbun stated that he packed a bag and “just decided to keep walking”) happened later in December 2004. Channel 4 said that the fact that the “musical chairs” incident and “the hole” were not referred to in the St Petersburg Times’ interview therefore did not make the accounts inconsistent. In any case, again, Channel 4 said that these were not “material facts” and there was no unfairness in not referring to them.

Mr Rathbun had been arrested in New Orleans for public intoxication and disturbing the peace; and in a separate incident arrested in San Patricio County, Texas for assault causing bodily injury to a Scientologist.

In response, Channel 4 said that, with regards to the arrest in New Orleans, the incident had occurred during Mr Rathbun’s honeymoon and that he had been arrested for “disturbing the peace” and “public drunkenness”. Channel 4 said that it was considered that this incident was not relevant to Mr Rathbun’s credibility or to the programme.

In relation to Mr Rathbun’s arrest in San Patricio County, Channel 4 said that mention of this incident was included in the programme. It said that on 8 September 2011, Mr Rathbun had been arrested for allegedly scratching a Scientologist. It said that the charges against him were subsequently dropped. Therefore, Channel 4 said it did not see the relevance of this, particularly as the arrest itself was reflected in the programme.

b) Carter-Ruck complained that the response of the Church (included in the broadcast) to the claims made in the programme was “wholly inadequate to inform and warn viewers of the unreliability of Mr Rathbun” and that its views were not presented in a fair manner.

In response, Channel 4 said that the programme included the Church’s position, as stated in the formal response sent to the programme makers by Carter-Ruck on 29 May 2013, at various points during the programme where the interests of fairness warranted it. For instance, Channel 4 said that the programme contained:

an interview with Ms Karen de la Carrier, a former member of the Church who explained what had happened to her when she had made the decision to leave the Church:

“The vengeance was incredible. Within one week of me stepping out, the FBI were called anonymously to say I was trafficking underage children for sex. 35 years in the Church and one week out of the Church, I’ve become a child trafficker. Just like that, bam”.

Channel 4 pointed out that a statement from the Church was included in the programme in response to Ms de la Carrier’s claims which said:

“The Church has denied having anything to do with the FBI’s investigation of Karen, or any suggestion of OSA [the Office of Special Affairs] forcibly disconnecting families”.

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a response from the Church in relation to Mr Rathbun’s claims about the existence of the “behavioural modification facility” – “the hole”, that:

“The Church denies the existence of any such place, but confirms at the end of 2003, he [Mr Rathbun] was assigned for correction and re-posting”.

a response from the Church in relation to Mr Rathbun’s description of “musical chairs” at “the hole”, that:

“The Church described the game as an educational exercise and say that Marty’s version of events is exaggerated, and there was no violence then or in confessionals”.

Channel 4 said that, in addition, the programme included a lengthy statement at the end of the programme to reflect the Church’s position and that this was included as a voiceover accompanied by on-screen text which stated:

“The Church of Scientology states that Marty Rathbun has never been a part of its ecclesiastical management and although he has been publicly attacking the Church for four years, his claims have had no discernible effect whatsoever.

It says there is no evidence of a global independent movement and the Israeli mission in Haifa only ever numbered a few people and that some have since rejoined the Church.

The Church of Scientology states that there is nothing inappropriate about using sustained legal pressure to obtain legal redress and that the idea harassment was used to achieve tax-exempt status is ‘obvious nonsense’.

It also denies sending the Squirrel Busters. While acknowledging that some were Scientologists, Squirrel Buster Productions is a wholly separate organisation.

The Church of Scientology denies putting Marty under surveillance but admits conducting a legal investigation into him ‘in furtherance of potential litigation’”.

Channel 4 said that the programme had reflected the position of the Church in a fair and proper way including its response to all significant allegations made in the programme.

Representations on Ofcom’s Preliminary View

Ofcom prepared a Preliminary View on this complaint of unjust or unfair treatment made by Carter-Ruck on behalf of the Church (that the complaint should not be upheld). Both parties were given the opportunity to comment on the Preliminary View.

In commenting, Carter-Ruck submitted detailed representations to Ofcom. We considered all this material carefully, but noted that many of its further representations were either not directly relevant to the complaint as entertained, or repeated arguments already made and addressed in the Preliminary View. Therefore, Ofcom has set out below only the main points made by Carter-Ruck in its submissions made on behalf of the Church on the Preliminary View that were directly relevant to the complaint responded to by the broadcaster and considered by Ofcom.

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Carter-Ruck’s representations

In summary, Carter-Ruck said that it did not agree that the Church had not been treated unjustly and unfairly in the programme as broadcast. It said that:

The specific examples listed by Carter-Ruck of information about Mr Rathbun’s previous dishonest behaviour should have been included in the programme, and that the examples cited in the Preliminary View of Mr Rathbun’s violent behaviour did not address the complaint made. Carter-Ruck stated:

“It is contended that Ofcom failed properly to take account of the deficiencies in the responses from CSI [the Church] that Channel 4 broadcast and, in doing so, also failed to give proper weight to the importance of the matters that are not dispute[d] by Channel 4 with regard to Mr Rathbun’s history and conduct of dishonesty”.

In its view the Church’s response to the claims made, as included in the programme, was inadequate and therefore the programme failed to inform viewers “...that they needed to be very cautious indeed about accepting Mr Rathbun’s claims against the Church and/or any member of it...”.

Channel 4’s representations

Channel 4 did not submit any representations on the Preliminary View. However, in response to receiving a copy of Carter-Ruck’s representations on Ofcom’s Preliminary View, Channel 4 commented that in its view Carter-Ruck’s letter only served to restate the Church’s original complaints and refute Channel 4’s arguments (as made in its representations). The broadcaster said that Carter-Ruck did not set out any inaccuracies or flaws of substance or procedure in the Preliminary View. In particular, Channel 4 said that:

“Carter-Ruck, in effect, challenges and disputes the right of a broadcaster’s freedom to make editorial choices and seeks to substitute not only [the Church’s] version of the facts, but [the Church’s] version of the programme. In doing so, it repeats [the Church’s] claims about Marty Rathbun”.

Decision

Ofcom’s statutory duties include the application, in the case of all television and radio services, of standards which provide adequate protection to members of the public and all other persons from unjust or unfair treatment and unwarranted infringement of privacy in, or in connection with the obtaining of material included in, programmes in such services.

In carrying out its duties, Ofcom has regard to the need to secure that the application of these standards is in the manner that best guarantees an appropriate level of freedom of expression. Ofcom is also obliged to have regard, in all cases, to the principles under which regulatory activities should be transparent, accountable, proportionate and consistent and targeted only at cases in which action is needed.

In reaching this decision, Ofcom carefully considered all the relevant material provided by both parties. This included a recording of the programme as broadcast and transcript, both parties’ written submissions and supporting documentation. We also took account of the representations made by Carter-Ruck in response to Ofcom’s Preliminary View on this complaint (which was not to uphold). We concluded

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that Carter-Ruck had not raised any issues to persuade Ofcom to alter its decision not to uphold the complaint.

When considering complaints of unfair treatment, Ofcom assesses whether the broadcaster’s actions ensured that the programme as broadcast avoided unjust or unfair treatment of individuals and organisations, as set out in Rule 7.1 of the Code. Ofcom had regard to this rule when reaching its Preliminary View.

a) Ofcom first considered the complaint that material facts were presented, disregarded or omitted in a way that was unfair to the Church because the programme contained no warning to viewers about Mr Rathbun’s alleged unreliability and credibility when it came to his views on the Church, despite information about this being provided to the programme makers in advance of the broadcast.

When assessing this complaint, Ofcom took particular account of Practice 7.9 of the Code which states that, before broadcasting a factual programme, broadcasters should take reasonable care to satisfy themselves that material facts have not be presented, disregarded or omitted in a way that is unfair to an individual or organisation.

The Code recognises the importance of freedom of expression and the need to allow broadcasters the freedom to broadcast matters of genuine public interest. However, in presenting material facts, broadcasters must ensure that it is done in a manner that does not cause unfairness to individuals or organisations. In this particular case, we considered that it was in the public interest for the programme to report the criticisms of some of the practices alleged to be sanctioned by the Church and to include contributions from former members of the Church, such as Mr Rathbun. This, however, needed to be done in a way consistent with the requirements of the Code.

Ofcom also acknowledges that selecting and editing material for inclusion in a programme is an editorial decision for the programme makers and the broadcaster, and that such editing and selection should be done in a fair manner. In our view, it was made sufficiently clear to viewers at the outset of the programme that Mr Rathbun had admitted, at least in his past, to having used aggressive intimidation tactics, which involved behaviour of a dishonest and violent nature. For instance, Ofcom noted in the opening minutes of the programme that viewers were told about Mr Rathbun’s former role at the Church as an “enforcer”:

“As this Church publication reveals, Marty was tasked with keeping Scientology free from subversion. He ruthlessly defended Miscavige’s regime, and protected its innermost secrets”.

Later in the programme, “Mosey”, Mr Rathbun’s wife (when asked by the presenter what Mr Rathbun would have been like carrying out his duties as an “enforcer” in the Church) explained:

“He would be someone, you know, if something was happening, you’d say to him ‘get it done’ and he’d get it done. And you know, if that included slamming someone against a fricking case, a bookcase, yeah that’s what happened”.

In addition, Ofcom noted the opening scenes showing Mr Rathbun being arrested, handcuffed and put into a police car, after he was also shown telling the

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“Squirrel Busters” to “…shut the fuck up”. Also, the type of aggressive behaviour, Mr Rathbun admitted it was his role to engage in, was repeatedly made clear in the broadcast. For example, the programme explained:

“In Church pictures, Miscavige is positioned at the very heart of operations, with the spirit of L. Ron Hubbard in the background. Marty was in charge of punishing anyone who questioned either of them”.

Mr Rathbun further explained:

“Well you put them [those who questioned L. Ron Hubbard or Mr Miscavige] on the RPF [Rehabilitation Project Force], which is a prison camp essentially; it’s a behaviour modification camp. I didn’t think twice about quelling opposition or silencing critics, or punishing somebody who had an errant thought about David Miscavige or L. Ron Hubbard”.

We noted that the programme detailed Mr Rathbun’s acknowledgements of his past behaviour and that the programme put criticisms to him in an interview for a response. For example, when Mr Rathbun and his wife were shown in the programme explaining that they were under surveillance and being intimidated by the Church, the programme’s reporter asked Mr Rathbun:

“In some ways are they using your own tactics back on you?”

to which Mr Rathbun responded:

“Yeah, it’s my own tactics back on me in terms of the surveillance. In a way it’s my karma, you know. I’ve done it to others, and so in a way it’s – you reap what you sow”.

The programme also included footage of Mr Rathbun being arrested for assault. Frustrated with the “Squirrel Busters” being outside his home, the programme explained that Mr Rathbun acted aggressively when one of the “Squirrel Busters” allegedly would not stop staring inappropriately at his wife. Mr Rathbun’s wife

“Mosey” explained:

“So Marty goes and knocks his glasses off and says, ‘Did you hear her? She [Mosey] told you to stop’. So apparently when he did that, he got scratched”.
At this point in the programme, Ofcom noted that footage of a film credited to “Squirrel Busters Productions”, and entitled “Marty Rathbun: Violent Psychopath, Cult Militia Leader”, was shown. Footage of Mr Rathbun being arrested was shown again later in the programme accompanied by the following commentary from the “Marty Rathbun: Violent Psychopath” film:

“Even when he’s being arrested, handcuffed and booked for assault with bodily harm, there’s king pin Rathbun sticking to that well worn story that, no, he wouldn’t even hurt a fly”.

Footage from the same film shown in the programme also showed Mr Rathbun breaking one of the film makers’ camera microphones, accompanied by this commentary:

Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, Issue 248 17 February 2014

55

“Rathbun likes to think of himself as a good man. A kind man, a tolerant man, who grants the freedom of speech to all. Unless of course it’s the free speech of a documentary crew covering him”.

Ofcom had particular regard, when reaching its view on this head of complaint, to the various pieces of information about Mr Rathbun’s background that Carter- Ruck identified in setting out the complaint on behalf of the Church (as set out above in the “Summary of the complaint and the broadcaster’s response” section). Having watched the programme and having considered the above examples and the manner in which they were presented in the programme, both separately and in the context of the programme as a whole, we took the view that these examples demonstrated that viewers were adequately informed and reminded throughout the programme of Mr Rathbun’s background, and his admissions of questionable conduct in the past. The inclusion of this material in the programme would have, in our view, played an important role in enabling viewers to reach their own opinion about Mr Rathbun’s character. Viewers therefore had the opportunity to give due weight to Mr Rathbun’s past when considering the credibility, or otherwise, of his claims made in the programme about the Church. On this basis, we considered that it was not incumbent on the broadcaster to have made specific reference in the programme to the various pieces of information about Mr Rathbun set out by Carter-Ruck in its complaint on behalf of the Church.

Given this conclusion, we therefore did not consider that the omission of any or all of the examples Carter-Ruck had highlighted in the complaint, as incidents it considered demonstrated Mr Rathbun’s dishonest and violent background, resulted in unfairness to the Church.
Ofcom’s decision is therefore that Channel 4 took reasonable care to satisfy itself that material facts were not presented, disregarded or omitted in a way that was unfair to the Church.

b) Ofcom then considered the complaint that the response of the Church (included in the broadcast) to the claims made in the programme was “wholly inadequate to inform and warn viewers of the unreliability of Mr Rathbun” and that its views were not presented in a fair manner.

In assessing this head of complaint, we had particular regard to Practice 7.13 of the Code which states: “Where it is appropriate to represent the views of a person or organisation that is not participating in the programme, this must be done in a fair manner”.

Ofcom’s view is that the programme included, where appropriate and where the interests of fairness warranted it, the Church’s position, as stated in the formal response provided to the programme makers from Carter-Ruck on 29 May 2013, in response to the allegations to be made in the programme. For example, in relation to Mr Rathbun’s claims about the existence of the “behavioural modification facility”, “the hole”, the following response from the Church was included in the programme:

“The Church denies the existence of any such place, but confirms at the end of 2003, he [Mr Rathbun] was assigned for correction and re-posting”.
The programme also included a substantial statement from the Church, which was read out as well as appearing as on-screen text, at the end of the

Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin, Issue 248 17 February 2014

56

programme (as already set out in Channel 4’s response above). This reflected the Church’s position overall and rebutted the allegations made in the programme against the Church, including comments made by Mr Rathbun. Given the above factors, we considered that viewers would have been left in no doubt as to the Church’s position on the matters raised in the programme, and in particular that it disputed claims made by Mr Rathbun. Ofcom was therefore of the view that Channel 4 had reflected the position of the Church in a fair manner.

Ofcom’s decision is therefore that there was no unjust or unfair treatment in this respect.


Accordingly, Ofcom has not upheld this complaint of unjust or unfair treatment made by Carter-Ruck on behalf of the Church.


 

AnonyMary

Formerly Fooled - Finally Free
Re: Not Upheld: Complaint by Carter-Ruck Solicitors on behalf of Church of Scientolo

Well, they blew that one, lol!!

Here's the show they are referring to
[video=youtube_share;sgFfl1xFeAo]http://youtu.be/sgFfl1xFeAo[/video]

btw, I had no clue where or what this was about when seeing the word Ofcom. I thought I would post a reference for others on what it is and does and where it is located.

Ofcom
The Office of Communications (Welsh: Y Swyddfa Gyfathrebiadau), commonly known as Ofcom, is the government-approved regulatory and competition authority for the broadcasting, telecommunications and postal industries of the United Kingdom.

Ofcom has wide-ranging powers across the television, radio, telecoms and postal sectors. It has a statutory duty to represent the interests of citizens and consumers by promoting competition and protecting the public from harmful or offensive material.[3][4] Some of the main areas Ofcom presides over are licensing, research, codes and policies, complaints, competition and protecting the radio spectrum from abuse.

The regulator was initially established by the Office of Communications Act 2002 and received its full authority from the Communications Act 2003.[
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ofcom

http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/enforcement/broadcast-bulletins/
 
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Anonycat

Crusader
Re: Not Upheld: Complaint by Carter-Ruck Solicitors on behalf of Church of Scientolo

I think that it's obvious to the world that scientologists do bad things. That's what made the scientology complaint so funny. He lied, he was violent, he ordered evidence destroyed ... oh right, that was his executive post in the cult. If he had continued doing that, he could still be a scientology executive "in good standing". Scientology, you're done.
 

Gib

Crusader
Re: Not Upheld: Complaint by Carter-Ruck Solicitors on behalf of Church of Scientolo

Well, they blew that one, lol!!

Here's the show they are referring to
[video=youtube_share;sgFfl1xFeAo]http://youtu.be/sgFfl1xFeAo[/video]

btw, I had no clue where or what this was about when seeing the word Ofcom. I thought I would post a reference for others on what it is and does and where it is located.

Ofcom

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ofcom

http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/enforcement/broadcast-bulletins/

The DM & wall of lawyers (aka COS :hysterical:) can't think with the fact that people can cross check things these days as opposed to when Hubbard wrote his policies. and there was no internet which now has court case's pdf'd for easy access.
 
Re: Not Upheld: Complaint by Carter-Ruck Solicitors on behalf of Church of Scientolo

.
Lawyers to the lawyers RPF. :shithitfan:

A lot of money down the drain.

David Miscavige to the whiskey shop.

Lou to the tantrum witnessing and agreeing room.

:angry: :banghead: :hissyfit: :storm:

Stats down

I don't like these beings creating all this anger in our universe.
 

Terril park

Sponsor
Re: Not Upheld: Complaint by Carter-Ruck Solicitors on behalf of Church of Scientolo

The DM & wall of lawyers (aka COS :hysterical:) can't think with the fact that people can cross check things these days as opposed to when Hubbard wrote his policies. and there was no internet which now has court case's pdf'd for easy access.

"It also denies sending the Squirrel Busters. While acknowledging that some were Scientologists, Squirrel Buster Productions is a wholly separate organisation."

Compare to recent court case statements that CSI funded squirrel busters.
 

CommunicatorIC

@IndieScieNews on Twitter
Re: Not Upheld: Complaint by Carter-Ruck Solicitors on behalf of Church of Scientolo

https://whyweprotest.net/community/...cientology-international.116936/#post-2421951


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carter-Ruck#The_Libel_Reform_Campaign

http://www.anonymong.org/tag/carter-fuck/

http://www.private-eye.co.uk/sections.php?section_link=in_the_back&article=142

http://bastardoldholborn.blogspot.co.uk/2009/12/carter-ruck-and-trafigura.html

http://bastardoldholborn.blogspot.co.uk/2009/10/carter-ruck-v-twitter.html




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