May 3, 2016

Publisher of upcoming Scientology tell-all threatened with lawsuit


RUTHLESS's US (left) and UK (right) covers.

RUTHLESS’s US (left) and UK (right) covers.

It was inevitable that Ruthless, Ron Miscavige‘s upcoming memoir about his decades in the Church of Scientology, would be subject to a lawsuit.

Not due to the content; so far, we don’t really know what that is. But due to the fact that David Miscavige, Ron’s son and the Church’s current head, has always preferred aggressive litigation as his method of intimidation against anyone who might speak publicly about the terrifying cult he leads.

So, it came as no surprise last week when former Village Voice editor-in-chief turned blogger Tony Ortega published a letter from the Church, which threatens one such lawsuit against the book’s UK publisher, Silvertail Books:

London publisher Silvertail Books has received a letter from Scientology leader David Miscavige’s attorneys threatening that it will be sued for defamation if it goes through with plans to publish Ron Miscavige’s book due out next week. The letter also indicates that Ron’s US publisher, St. Martin’s Press, has received similar warnings.

[…]Even at this late date, with only days to go before publication, Scientology’s attorneys are trying to scare the book’s publishers out of going through with having copies on sale May 3.“You are now on notice of the highly defamatory content of the subject book,” the letter states. “In the event that you proceed…our client will be left with no alternative but to seek the protection of UK/Irish defamation and other laws. Accordingly, even at this late stage, we would urge you to reconsider your decision to proceed…[with] what clearly will be a totally unjustified, premeditated attack on our client’s reputation and character.”

The letter claims that David Miscavige has had “no meaningful relationship” with his father since he was sixteen years old, and it indicates that Scientology has been trying to convince St. Martin’s Press of Ron Miscavige’s “sinister background.” (In other words, a classic Scientology “dead agent” campaign, as described by its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, which is designed to smear the reputation of someone criticizing Scientology, in this case David Miscavige’s own father.)

The letter points out that Irish and UK libel laws offer a greater degree of protection to individuals like Miscavige. Here are some of the things that the Church’s council, London firm Johnsons, claims are lies:

i. That our client was never officially appointed to be L. Ron Hubbard’s successor but rather seized power by outmanoeuvring his rivals;
ii. That Gold Base is surrounded by spiked fencing pointing inwards;
iii. That working and living conditions at Gold Base were appalling and staff were not permitted to leave;
iv. That our client created “The Hole” as a means of punishing Sea Org members and that people were subjected to deprivation and violence whilst detained in “The Hole”;
v. That our client lives in lavish conditions whilst Church staff live in poor conditions;
vi. That our client’s management style is erratic and abusive;
vii. That our client hired Private Detectives to carry out surveillance on Ron Miscavige.

However, Silvertail’s publisher told the Hollywood Reporter that he’s not backing down:

“My plans for the book haven’t changed at all since I received the letter. Full legal due diligence has been carried out on the manuscript, and I am both confident in its integrity and very proud that Silvertail is publishing it. Ron’s story is an important one, and he is a brave man to be telling it.”



Liam O’Brien is the Senior Sales & Marketing Manager at Melville House, and a former bookseller.