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Title Scientology - Scientology capitulates - Reuters

Scientology capitulates Reuters Today in the High Court, Scientology *totally capitulated* in the libel case brought by ex-member Bonnie Woods, settling for the following conditions: * A profuse apology was read out in open court by Scientology s counsel, officially acknowledging that hurtful statements made about Bonnie were untrue. * Substantial damages , apparently in six figures, have been paid to Bonnie from Scientology s account. Bonnie s bankrupcy is now discharged, so she gets to keep all the money. * Scientology has accepted an injunction which prevents them from repeating the libels. If they mount another hate campaign against Bonnie, they face prison and large financial penalties. This represents a complete victory for Bonnie Woods in a case was has been going for six years. Informal estimates are that Scientology has spent 5 million fighting the case. Three counter-claims brought by Scientology were dismissed with prejudice last year. This result is thanks to Bonnie s pro bono representation by the major City law firm Allen and Overy. At 10.30 this morning, Bonnie, her husband Richard, her legal team, and many friends and well-wishers gathered in the High Court to hear the apology in an extremely brief session. The text of the session is being typed up and will be posted separately. As we came out of the court, Scientology spokesman Graeme Wilson distributed a press release which does not mention the apology and damages and clearly implies that Bonnie has apologised to Scientology (this will also be posted separately). Outside the court, Bonnie was met by a crowd of TV and press journalists and happily posed for the cameras with her husband and her cute baby granddaughter. There is already an article about the settlement in today s Daily Express. Ron Lawley stated that the case would not have come this far if it had not been for the internet. Several netizens have sent encouragement and financial help and Allen and Overy s involvement was a result of Dave Bird referring the case to the Libety panel. Bonnie and Richard now plan to take a long holiday, the first they have had in a long time. The legal fight with scientology is still ongoing, though, in that Narconon have an outstanding libel suit against them and just last week a scientologist filed suit against Bonnie for false imprisonment. (Anyone who has knows the Woods and has visited their house knows how absurd this allegation is.) Bonnie sends her love and thanks to all who have supported her. More details on this case, including media coverage, will be posted to: Celebrate, everyone! This is a total victory! UK Scientologists pay damages to former member 10:20 a.m. Jun 08, 1999 Eastern LONDON, June 8 (Reuters) The Church of Scientology on Tuesday agreed to pay a former member 55,000 pounds ($88,000) in libel damages and to apologise publicly for calling her a hate campaigner. The settlement with American-born Bonnie Woods, who was a member of the church in the 1970s, was announced at London s High Court. Woods left the Los Angeles-based church in 1982 and converted to Christianity in 1991 after moving to Britain. After leaving the church, she and her husband began to operate a helpline and offer advice about Scientology to families and friends of members. Michael Tugenhadt, a lawyer for Woods, said she Publicly criticised the Scientologists and had attended vigils outside its bookshop in Surrey. As a result of her activities, in June 1993 the Church produced a leaflet showing a photograph of Mrs Woods above the words Hate Campaigner Comes to Town , Tugenhadt said. Bonnie Woods does not hate any religion and would not take any step to force people away from their chosen religion or encourage others to do so. The Scientologists lawyer, Patrick Moloney, said the church regretted going so far. Scientology, which boasts a string of star-studded members like Hollywood couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, is no stranger to controversy. It is recognised as a religion in the United States but not in Britain or many of its European neighbours. Scientology was founded on the teachings of the late American science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. ($1-.6252 Pound) Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.