Stephen Mayne asked in Crikey last Friday whether a Scientologist like
James Packer can be involved in the casino business. A professional
anecdote can provide you with the answer.
In the late 1960s I worked for The Sunday Times in London becoming the resident Scientology specialist. When the late Lafayette Ron Hubbard
took his travelling road show to Greece, which was then ruled by the
fascist colonels, I was sent to track him down. Hubbard and his
“students” were on board a converted cattle ship in the Harbour at
Corfu. This seagoing Scientology training ship was known as the “Sea
The local waterfront police had been well-oiled with Hubbard’s US
dollars and they refused me entry to the vessel to interview him, his
minders, his crew or his “students.” However, on the Saturday night I
hung around the harbour until a limousine appeared and took Hubbard for
a ride. It went straight to the island’s extravagant casino.
I parked and rushed into the building only to find Hubbard had
disappeared into the high rollers’ room from which I was barred. I hung
around until he emerged to go to the pissoire. I followed and got a
brief but essentially uninformative interview as he took relief. I
grabbed a phone and filed a story about Hubbard’s Greek exploits which
appeared the next day. Hubbard stayed late into the night gambling at
the tables, drinking and chomping on cigars. Meanwhile, his “students”
from Australia, Rhodesia, South Africa and California were locked up
like cattle and prevented from going ashore.