3 Mar 2011

Paul Haggis did not think New Yorker interview would focus on Scientology but he stands by its accuracy

USA Today - February 23, 2011

Paul Haggis on 'New Yorker' Scientology story: 'I stand by it'

By Andrea Mandell, USA TODA

LOS ANGELES — It's been one week since the New Yorker profile of director Paul Haggis' defection from Scientology hit the Internet. On Tuesday night the famous director, co-hosting an Oscar week Vanity Fair party with pal Pierce Brosnan for Artists for Peace and Justice, called the debut of the material "scary."

"I had a lot of friends that I knew who were upset," said Haggis, surrounded by celebrities at the Eveleigh in West Hollywood, including Moby, Jeremy Piven, Seth Green, Idris Elba and The Social Network's Armie Hammer. "It was hard. Because those are really good friends."

The 24,577-word piece discusses Scientology at length, Haggis' 35 years inside the religion and his distaste for its stance on homosexuality (in the article he reveals that two of his daughters are gay).

"Two of my daughters called me after the article (came out), because they said a couple of things (in the article) were hard to hear," said Haggis. The article questions basic tenets of Scientology, describes the religion's leadership and dives into Haggis' personal history as an emotionally distant father.

"I told them: 'Yeah, it was really hard to read those things, but it was the truth. And never be afraid to speak the truth.' So I tried to teach my kids that — so I should learn that myself."

Haggis revealed that the searing interview was never meant to happen.

"I didn't mean to do it," he said. "It was an accident. (Writer) Larry Wright calls me, and I'm editing my movie, and they said they want to do a profile of me in TheNew Yorker. And I go 'Oh, me? A profile? The New Yorker? Oh, OK.' I don't even think it's about Scientology. So he interviews me for a day and at the end of the day he says, 'So, Scientology.' And I go, 'Oh that's what this is about.' "

Haggis agreed to a short question-and-answer session. "So I talk to him for a half an hour, I say a few things that worked for me, a few things that didn't work for me or upset me. And he said, 'I'll see you tomorrow.' I said, 'Tomorrow?' " Haggis' voice feigns surprise. "How long are you going to take on this? And he said, 'I don't know, seven, eight, 10 months.' And he did."

Despite the shockwaves the article sent, Haggis believes he was portrayed accurately. "I stand by it. He's a wonderful guy. He did a good job. A wise man said never be afraid to hurt someone for a just cause. I knew it was going to hurt a lot of friends, but," he holds his hands up, "you gotta do what you gotta do."

Today, through Artists for Peace and Justice, Haggis is focused on building free high schools for Haitian children who live in slums. Recently, they opened seventh grade for 400 children.

"It's going well," he says. "I'm going back in a couple of weeks. You don't want to be a disaster tourist. You want to actually go and do something. I love it there. I love the kids. I love my friends there. I lost some during the quake, which was hard, but it's a great country. The people are so beautiful."

His next project will be a matter of the heart. "I've got a spec strip I've been writing for over a year (called) Third Person," he says. "It's three very damaged relationships, damaged love stories that I'm trying to put together now. But every time I finish the script I think it's not good enough, and I start rewriting it."

This article was found at:


Paul Haggis predicts he will be target of disinformation to scandalize him after his recent attack on Scientology

Survivors confirm claim in Paul Haggis article that FBI is investigating human trafficking in Scientology cult

The article on Paul Haggis that inspired the reporter to collaborate on new book exposing abuses in Scientology


  1. Paul Haggis gets no satisfaction from Scientology defections

    The Canadian Press November 7, 2011

    TORONTO — Paul Haggis says he's been told that his high-profile rebuke of Scientology has prompted other followers to leave the controversial church. But the Oscar-winning filmmaker insists he didn't set out to encourage others to leave the faith, which boasts several influential Hollywood devotees including Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

    "It's a personal decision for me and if other people want to make a personal decision that's up to them too. I'm not on some crusade," said the 58-year-old filmmaker, who condemned the church in a lengthy magazine article earlier this year. "I think we all have to live by our own codes and I was trying to live by mine and others can live by theirs."

    The acclaimed director was in Toronto on Monday to lead a master class for film and television students at the Canadian Film Centre, which announced that Haggis had been named the new chairman of its film programs. The role means that Haggis will deliver at least one master class a year at the training centre, which has helped launch the careers of Canuck talent including Clement Virgo, Sarah Polley, Vincenzo Natali and Don McKellar.

    Haggis said it was an honour to accept the job and contribute to the legacy of filmmaker Norman Jewison, who founded the CFC. "And you can never say no to Norman," Haggis adds. "He's an incredible filmmaker and a hero of mine so whatever he asks me to do I just say, 'Yes."'

    Despite his willingness to tackle difficult topics, Haggis said he's not interested in writing a movie about religion or his troubles with Scientology, which he left in 2009.

    "I don't think it's that interesting," he said, nevertheless admitting that the larger issues he wrestled with in his dealings with the church could emerge in future scripts.

    "We always pull from things that you deal with, you just don't know how they're going to come out."

    Haggis detailed his complaints with the church in a New Yorker article posted online in February. The 25,000-word piece outlined how Haggis had ascended "all the way to the top" of the religion, founded by L. Ron Hubbard in 1952.

    Haggis said he became disillusioned when his daughter Katy was allegedly ostracized after coming out as a lesbian, when his wife was allegedly ordered to cut contact with her parents after they left the church, and when he came across news reports alleging church executives were physically violent with members.

    Soon after the article came out, Haggis said several people turned their backs on him and he lost at least one friend over his comments.

    On Monday, Haggis said it was difficult to know whether his sharp remarks also had any effect on his career.

    "It's impossible to tell, isn't it?" said Haggis, who lives in New York.

    "Everything is a struggle in this business so getting your film financed, getting the next project going is always a struggle. No one's going to ride up and say, 'Listen I didn't like what you wrote, or I didn't like what you said and therefore I'm not going to do blankity blank.' But I'm not worried. There's a lot of people who have spoken out about different things in this world and they do just fine."

    Comedy filmmaker David Frankel, whose films include "Marley & Me" and "The Devil Wears Prada," hosts the CFC's next master class on Tuesday at TIFF Bell Lightbox.

    read the full article at:


  2. Transworld cancels Lawrence Wright's Scientology title

    Lawrence Wright's UK publishers have dropped his new book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief after taking legal advice

    By Felicity Capon The Telegraph UK January 8, 2013

    British publishers Transworld have cancelled their publication of a new book on Scientology, after taking legal advice. Lawrence Wright's highly anticipated book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief, is based on his 2011 New Yorker article ‘The Apostate’, for which he interviewed the screenwriter and director Paul Haggis about his decision to resign from the organisation.

    Wright is no stranger to investigating secretive organisations. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for his book The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.

    Going Clear examines the Church’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, the church’s finances and its relationships with celebrities such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta. It will be published by US publishers Knopf for American audiences on January 17th with a reported print run of 150,000 copies.

    The decision not to publish in this country has prompted questions, particularly as Transworld had previously agreed to it. It seems likely that the threat of libel action in the UK may have contributed to the decision.

    Graham Atkins, a partner at Atkins Thomson Solicitors in London who specialise in defamation cases, commented on the decision: “It is more difficult for individual claimants to successfully sue for defamation in the US and therefore it may be that the UK publishers are concerned about prominent Scientologists threatening or commencing libel proceedings in the UK.”
    Transworld’s publicity director, Patsy Irwin stated: “Our legal advice was that some of the content was not robust enough for the UK market and an appropriately edited version would not fit with our schedule. The decision not to publish was taken internally.”

    In an interview with the New York Times, Wright revealed that he had already received numerous letters from lawyers representing the Church of Scientology and celebrities belonging to it who are unhappy with the content of the book.

    In a statement, the international spokesperson for the Church of Scientology, Karin Pouw, said that “The author and publisher refused to provide the Church with a copy of the book and showed little interest in receiving input from the Church during both the writing and the so-called 'fact-checking'.

    “Having seen how inaccurate his New Yorker article was, the Church asked numerous times for a reasonable opportunity to assist in helping making his book factual. More than 15 requests were ignored, many not answered at all. From the limited excerpts we have seen, the book contains numerous falsehoods and we think it wise that they chose not to publish it in the UK.”

    British libel laws have been long been subject to fierce criticism from writers and free speech advocates around the world. They are considered by some to be overly punitive, particularly as the burden of proof falls on the defendant.

    Mike Harris, Head of Advocacy at Index on Censorship said: "Our libel laws remain some of the most archaic in the Western world with cases in the High Court in London costing 100 times the European average. With high costs and an uncertain public interest defence, the publisher may simply have decided to back away rather than risk losing a libel case."

    He added: "The government is currently piloting legislation through Parliament to reform the law, but unfortunately it isn't strong enough. Even under these reforms, the chill on public interest publication will remain."


  3. Paul Haggis Pens Open Letter Praising Leah Remini's 'Brave' Break With Scientology

    by Paul Haggis, The Hollywood Reporter July 31, 2013

    The screenwriter, who left the church in 2009, writes that he was surprised how quickly "Leah was attacked by her celebrity 'friends' who were disparaging her character."

    This story first appeared in the Aug. 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

    In 2009, Paul Haggis, the screenwriter-director who won an Oscar for 2005’s Crash and wrote Million Dollar Baby, publicly broke with the Church of Scientology. He had been a member for 35 years. While high-ranking officers in Scientology have defected from the controversial organization, Haggis at the time was by far the most famous to disavow it. He publicly criticized Scientology for requiring members to “disconnect” from those who have left the church -- a practice it denies exists -- and for publishing personal information about defectors on websites with domains beginning “who is,” as in “Who Is Paul Haggis?” In early July, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed the news that actress Leah Remini, a second-generation Scientologist, had left the church after she allegedly was punished for questioning the conduct of its leader, David Miscavige, and for being critical of other Scientologists. On July 27, the former King of Queens star, who has not publicly discussed her departure, told People, “We stand united, my family and I, and I think that says a lot about who we are and what we’re about. I believe that people should be able to question things. I believe that people should value family and friendships and hold those things sacrosanct. … No one is going to tell me how I need to think, no one is going to tell me who I can and cannot talk to.” Already “WhoIsLeahRemini.com” appears to have been claimed. Asked for comment, a Scientologist spokesperson said, “Regarding ‘Who Is …,’ the church has never hidden the fact it supplied information for the websites. … [But] let’s be clear: We have had nothing to do with any website about her and have no idea who registered the site. … The church respects the privacy of its parishioners and has no further comment.” As for Haggis, who felt compelled to publicly support Remini, the spokesperson says he is a “status-obsessed screenwriter” whose “ ‘open letter’ is nothing more than a transparent promotional gimmick.”

    I didn’t say anything at the time for a number of reasons. I am in Europe and have been working here for the last year and a half, and, disregarding a few friendly e-mails and a couple of tweets, Leah and I haven’t spoken in quite a while. What I knew about Leah is that she was one of two Scientologists who had refused to “disconnect” from me and certainly the only high-profile one when I decided to quit the organization in August 2009. I also thought any comment would be premature and self-serving.

    continued below

  4. Leah and I were always friendly but never close friends. Despite this, she called me as soon as she heard about my letter of resignation. Unlike the rest of my former friends, she expressed real sadness that I was leaving and concern for me and my family. A few months later, we ran into each other at a school fair. I kept my distance for fear of putting her in an awkward position, but Leah had no such fear. She walked up, asked me why I was being weird and told me she would always be my friend and would never “disconnect” from me. Then she dragged me over and introduced me to her family. Soon after that, I moved to New York, and our paths just didn’t cross, but I was deeply touched by her gesture and genuine concern.

    So all I could have said at the time was that, whether it was true Leah had resigned, she had always been a class act and a lovely human being -- but that wasn’t news. Millions of people know that; her character shines through everything she does.

    In the last few days, I read some things that really disturbed me. First was the way Leah was being attacked by her celebrity “friends,” who were disparaging her character. [Editor’s note: After actress Kirstie Alley tweeted “the sweetest poison is often served with a smile,” it was widely interpreted as referring to Remini. Alley vigorously has denied that and says she does not criticize anyone’s religious beliefs.] Having witnessed Scientology’s smear tactics, I can imagine how this was being orchestrated, but I was still shocked to see how quickly those friends -- some of whom had known Leah for 20 or 30 years -- jumped on the “malign Leah” campaign, and with such apparent glee. I assumed Scientology’s next step would be to try and plant disparaging stories about her with less-informed journalists and bloggers. And if others who have made noisy exits from the church are to be believed, Scientology would also use their Office of Special Affairs employees to attack Leah indirectly, posting negative comments about her shows and career and abilities under myriad false names, pretending to be disappointed fans or whatever. None of that is new.

    What was new to me was the report that Leah had run afoul of the church by challenging Scientology’s leader, David Miscavige, who is held to be infallible. When I was leaving and was visited by waves of angry friends and a phalange of top Scientology executives, trying to convince me to tear up my letter and resign quietly, I made a similar mistake by insisting they look into the charges of abuse detailed by the Tampa Bay Times. I was working on a film about Martin Luther King Jr. at that moment and made the polite suggestion that even great leaders like Dr. King were human and fallible. Two of the senior church leaders leapt to their feet and shouted at me, “How dare you compare a great man like David Miscavige to Martin Luther King!” I ended the meeting at that point, thanking them for coming.

    continued below

  5. According to what I read on Tony Ortega’s blog, at the 2006 wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Leah asked questions about her longtime friend Shelly, David Miscavige’s wife, who had suddenly disappeared. [Editor’s note: An attorney for Shelly Miscavige told Us Weekly in 2012: “She is not missing. Any reports that she is missing are false. Mrs. Miscavige has been working nonstop in the church, as she always has.”] Unlike her pious friends, Leah refused to accept the easy excuses that were offered. She kept asking questions.

    The next thing I learned made me feel terrible. Leah got in trouble because of me, because when I was “declared” a “Suppressive Person” and shunned, she came to my defense -- without me ever knowing it. She had shouting matches with Tommy Davis, then the church spokesman, who had come to try and keep her quiet. The fact that she fought within the system so resolutely for so long, never making her feelings public, is a testament to how much she believed in the basic goodness of her friends and the institution. Finally, according to what I read, she was turned in by a celebrity friend who had noticed one of our few innocuous tweets.

    I can’t express how much I admire Leah. Her parents, family and close friends were almost all Scientologists; the stakes for her were so much higher than for me. Her decision to leave was so much braver.

    Having been consumed with my movie, I only learned much of what I have written here in the last few days. I also have to confess to not paying that much attention to news about Scientology. In this case, I should have. I finally called Leah during the last week of July. Her answering service didn’t recognize my number, so it took a while to get through. It was good to hear her voice and great to hear her laugh -- though it was easy to tell she had been terribly hurt and shaken by the events of the last weeks. That said, Leah is an incredibly strong woman and will get through this with the help of her family and her true friends. She is kind and generous and loyal; she has always cared more about others than herself. She barely knew me, and yet she fought for me and my family, a battle she had to know in her gut she was never going to win. That takes an enormous amount of integrity and compassion. I will leave it to you to decide if the same can be said of Scientology’s executives and Leah’s many former friends -- especially those Scientologists who are watching her be smeared now and are choosing to stay silent.

    I will forever be grateful to her.


  6. The Church Of Scientology Issued A Scathing Response To Paul Haggis' Open Letter

    by ALY WEISMAN, Business Insider JULY 31, 2013

    The Church of Scientology would like you to know that they are less than thrilled about director/screenwriter Paul Haggis' open letter to actress Leah Remini in The Hollywood Reporter.

    In the letter, Haggis commends Remini after she recently broke from the church. Remini previously explained: "No one is going to tell me how I need to think, no one is going to tell me who I can, and cannot, talk to."

    In response, Haggis wrote that he will be "forever grateful" to Remini for her "brave" decision, among some other things including a phone call he had with the actress after her departure.

    The Church of Scientology got wind of Haggis' letter and they were not amused.

    I, along with other members of the media, I'm sure, received the below response in my inbox.

    The church's defense says Haggis is "a status-obsessed screenwriter" whose "self-serving 'open letter' is a transparent plug for an upcoming film still lacking U.S. distribution."

    [First read Haggis's open letter to Leah Remini above]

    Now read the church's response in its entirety:


    July 31, 2013

    Mr. Haggis is a status-obsessed screenwriter who in the words of The Hollywood Reporter has been in “the wilderness” professionally for three years. Mr. Haggis once again is exploiting his tenuous connection with Scientology to grab headlines. His statement that the organization anonymously comments negatively about those who leave the Church is delusional and borders on paranoia.

    Desperately craving attention, his self-serving “open letter” is a transparent plug for an upcoming film still lacking U.S. distribution. If Mr. Haggis was as successful and prolific at manufacturing drama for audiences as he is at manufacturing it for gossip sites, then his career might have never gotten lost in the “wilderness.”

    Despite his spin, the truth is that Mr. Haggis was an inactive Scientologist for more than 30 years until he orchestrated a disingenuous “departure” in 2009 aimed solely at getting media attention. As a result, Paul Haggis has no first-hand knowledge about the Church of Scientology but instead relies on a small collection of unemployed bloggers living on the fringe of the Internet who are obsessed with spinning myths about the Church.

    Mr. Haggis has chosen to align himself with a small posse of lunatics with arrest records, who have acknowledged in depositions to being secretly on the payroll of tabloids and who have admitted on national television to outright lying. As for Paul Haggis’ real story, see http://www.freedommag.org/special-reports/new-yorker/video- profile-the-many-personas-of-paul-haggis.html. [Link doesn't work]

    As to the true story of Scientology, under the 25-year leadership of Mr. Miscavige, following in the footsteps of our Founder, L. Ron Hubbard, the Church is enjoying tremendous expansion as shown in our 37 new Churches opening in six continents and the many new parishioners joining their congregations. Our Churches are open seven days a week and many have public display areas to answer all questions or one can visit our website, www.Scientology.org.


  7. Scientology spy pretending to be a Time reporter tries to interview Paul Haggis

    Why aren't we surprised?

    by ANNA SILMAN, SALON APRIL 17, 2015

    Paul Haggis, the filmmaker and prominent ex-Scientologist whose story formed the backbone of Alex Gibney’s Scientology expose “Going Clear,” has alleged that a spy from the church pretended to be a Time reporter in order to get an interview with him.

    According to Haggis, on April 7th he received an email from someone named Mark Webber, who claimed to be a Time magazine reporter seeking to interview Haggis for a piece about the “golden age of film.”

    When Haggis’ staff began to research Webber, it became apparent that there was no Time journalist with such a name, and Time magazine said they did not assign the piece nor do they have an employee named Mark Webber on staff. After further diggigng, it became apparent that the email was sent from a building owned by the Church of Scientology.

    In an email to TonyOrtega.com, who first reported the story, Haggis speculated about the aims of the email, wondering the church was attempting a “bait and switch” where they might try to convert the phone interview into an in person interview. He described other incidents where he had been lured into Scientology offices under false pretenses, adding that the Church is “infamous for taking and using quotes out of context,” including doctoring an image of Haggis in an orange jumpusit that he took for an Amnesty International campaign.
    As Haggis explains:

    “They constantly use a photo of me in an orange prison jump suit, and refer to me as the ‘hypocrite of Hollywood.’ They fail to mention that this is extracted from a photograph taken by Amnesty International, in which actors Mark Ruffalo, Martin Sheen, and I were asked to don the suits in order to protest endless incarceration without due process of law at Guantanamo. Mark and Martin mysteriously disappeared from the photo — I’m sure an unintended oversight by Mr. Miscavige — and the impression given is that, at one time or another, I was a long-time guest of the federal prison system.”

    “So is that what this was?” Haggis wonders. “An attempt to press me for some ‘quote’ that they could twist to fit the needs of their prestigious magazine? Or just general fishing. I don’t honestly know what they thought they could gain. But try they did.”

    Anna Silman is Salon's deputy entertainment editor.


  8. TV exposure of Scientology halted by UK libel law split

    Lawyers warn that differences in defamation law in Northern Ireland mean controversial US documentary ‘Going Clear’ might not be broadcast

    by Edward Helmore in New York, The Guardian April 18, 2015

    Plans to broadcast HBO’s Church of Scientology exposé, Going Clear, have been shelved by Sky Atlantic in a virtual repeat of events two years ago, when UK publishers abandoned publication of the book on which the hard-hitting new TV documentary is based.

    Sky originally indicated that the Alex Gibney-directed film, which alleges abusive practices at the religion’s US headquarters, would be transmitted in the UK earlier this month in step with its American release.

    However, the Observer has learned that because Northern Ireland is not subject to the 2013 Defamation Act, the broadcaster could be exposed to libel claims from David Miscavige, the leader of the church, or others. This appears to have caused the company to postpone transmission, if not to cancel it entirely.

    For technical reasons, Sky is unable to differentiate its signal between regions, rendering the same programme potentially exposed to pre-reform libel laws in Northern Ireland, but shielded in Britain where, among free-speech safeguards and reforms designed to limit frivolous claims or “libel tourism”, people or organisations must now show “serious harm” to reputation. Sky called the decision a delay rather than a cancellation, but did not deny it was taken for legal reasons. “At present, Sky’s transmission date for Going Clear has not been confirmed,” a spokesman said.

    From its Los Angeles HQ, the church has denounced the film as a “one-sided, bigoted propaganda built on falsehoods” and informed by former members –whom it calls “misfits”. It is understood to have instructed solicitors in the UK to warn Sky it faces legal action if Going Clear is broadcast.

    The church said in a statement: “The Church of Scientology will be entitled to seek the protection of both UK and Irish libel laws in the event that any false or defamatory content in this film is broadcast within these jurisdictions.”

    Paul Tweed, a Belfast libel lawyer who represents Miscavige, was involved in previous correspondence with UK publisher Transworld, which ultimately dropped Going Clear, the Lawrence Wright book on which the documentary is based. Tweed argues against any change to existing libel laws. He considers Northern Ireland’s unreformed law the fairest in the world. He warns of “consequences of dissemination in jurisdictions where reputations can be protected”.

    He added: “If Sky makes a decision to broadcast they will be making a commercial decision for commercial reasons. Any client of mine, whether a journalist or a high-profile personality, is entitled to protect their reputation against false allegations.

    “In terms of Sky’s decision … they have to make absolutely certain that what they are broadcasting is not defamatory or untrue. If they have right on their side, they have nothing to fear.”

    UK libel lawyers with no connection to the church, current or former members, say uneven implementation of the reforms across jurisdictions is causing chaos for broadcasters.

    “It’s a headache because it’s quite difficult technologically to broadcast in just one jurisdiction,” says Gavin Millar QC of Matrix Law chambers in London. “Broadcasters can get sucked into litigation in Northern Ireland that they wouldn’t get sucked into in Britain.”

    A programme broadcast in Northern Ireland on a controversial religion could attract a substantial number of viewers, raising exposure. “It just depends how important you think it is to broadcast in that jurisdiction, and how many people you think are going to see it.”

    continued below

  9. In the US Going Clear has been seen by more than 5.5 million people and is likely to become second only to a film about Beyoncé as HBO’s most-watched documentary of the past decade.

    Before its US premiere, Scientology took out a full-page ad in the New York Times questioning if Going Clear would turn out to be a story the film-makers and broadcaster would be forced to retract. The documentary claims to be an account of the church’s origins in the imagination of science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard and its development into an international organisation with billions of dollars in global property holdings. But interviews with eight former Scientologists about their experiences inside the church allege darker practices. Some claim they have been physically harassed and publicly vilified for speaking out. The church denies the allegations.

    In a comment piece in the Los Angeles Times last week, Gibney claims: “In the past, critics of the church have called for its tax exemption to be revoked because it is not a ‘real religion’. I agree that tax-exemption isn’t merited, but not for that reason. The Church of Scientology has a distinct belief system which, despite its somewhat strange cosmology – mocked by the TV show South Park and many others – is not essentially more strange than, say, the idea of a virgin birth.

    “Scientologists are entitled to believe what they want to believe. And the IRS [Internal Revenue Service] website makes it clear anyone is entitled to start a religion without seeking IRS permission. To maintain the right to be tax-exempt, however, religions must fulfil certain requirements for charitable organisations. For example, they may not ‘serve the private interests of any individual’ and/or ‘the organisation’s purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy’.”

    Regarding “private interests”, Gibney suggests Scientology is ruled by only one man, David Miscavige. Further, he claims “powerful celebrities within the church, particularly film star Tom Cruise, receive private benefits through the exploitation of low-wage labour and other use of church assets”.

    While Cruise has not responded to allegations, fellow member John Travolta told the Tampa Bay Times the church “has been nothing but brilliant for me”. Travolta, who has no plans to see the documentary, called it “decidedly negative … I’ve been so happy with my [Scientology] experience in the last 40 years. I’ve been brought through storms that were insurmountable, and Scientology has been so beautiful for me, that I can’t even imagine attacking it.”

    Yet former members continue to claim they are tracked and subjected to low-level harassment. Last week, the anti-Scientology writer Tony Ortega reported claims on his website, The Underground Bunker, that former member and outspoken critic Paul Haggis had been approached by a member of the church posing as a Time magazine reporter. The church has previously denied similar allegations.

    Whether Sky will ever broadcast Going Clear is an open question. Under UK libel law, a publisher might only have to prove that “the statement complained was, or formed part of, a statement on a matter of public interest and they reasonably believed that publishing it was in the public interest”. But with the Northern Ireland assembly blocking the reforms from entering common law, it’s an argument lawyers for the broadcaster may not get the opportunity to make.