By BEN TAYLOR
[Picture caption: “Cruise control: Officers have received sought-after free invitations to film premieres and £500-a-head charity dinners”]
Dozens of police officers have accepted film premiere tickets, banquet invitations and the use of a jazz band from the controversial Church of Scientology, it has emerged.
The wealthy religious movement has spent thousands of pounds cultivating contacts in the City of London police.
Officers have received sought-after free invitations to film premieres and £500-a-head charity dinners where the guest of honour is Hollywood superstar and renowned Scientologist, Tom Cruise.
They have even been provided with the free use of a £5,000-a-night jazz band to play for officers and guests at a police station function.
As a result of the revelations, an internal review of the force’s hospitality policy has been launched.
The officers who have accepted freebies from the church – which has been accused of “brainwashing” their converts – range in rank from constable to chief superintendent. It is understood they include a member of the force’s Special Branch.
The details were obtained by a Freedom of Information request made by the Daily Mail – requesting details of all hospitality accepted by officers since July last year. Many more officers are said to have turned down the offers.
Sources inside the City of London Police have described the church as “grooming” selected officers in the hope of winning powerful influence inside the force. But nearly all the offers received official approval from senior officers at the City of London – which has just fought off government plans to merge it with the Metropolitan Police.
Other forces in Britain have banned their staff from having any contact with the church – which holds that humans are descended from an exiled race of aliens called Thetans.
The church openly targeted the force in the run-up to the opening of a £24 million centre in the City which was unveiled in a blaze of publicity last month.
During the ceremony, the force was criticised for sending one of its most senior officers to welcome the scientologists to their new home.
Chief Superintendent Kevin Hurley told the audience that the church, which has been the subjected of repeated investigations by the FBI since it was founded in the 1954 by science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, was a “force for good” and was “raising the spiritual wealth of society”.
His presence at the ceremony was later explained away by the force who said he was their lead officer on “faith issues” and indeed there is no suggestion that Mr Hurley has personally benefited from any hospitality.
But sources within the force say that the church began targeting officers in the aftermath of the July 7 bombings last year when it provided free refreshments to officers manning the police cordon at the scene of the Aldgate blast.
Since then, the Daily Mail can reveal, officers have accepted at least nine offers of formal hospitality. They include a trip for two constables and a sergeant to the premiere of Mission Impossible 3 in London’s Leicester Square earlier this year.
The film’s star, Tom Cruise, was present at the screening although it is unclear whether the City trio met the Hollywood actor.
Six months later, a further four officers attended a lavish charity dinner at the scientologists’ British base in East Grinstead, East Sussex. They included Chief Superintendent Ken Stewart, a Special Branch detective, a constable and a detective constable.
Again, Cruise was present and he and his fellow diners feasted on foie gras, Aberdeen Angus beef and a dessert of chocolate, passion fruit and papaya tart.
The price per head that evening started at £500 and went up to £1,500 for VIP guests, who were able to sit near Cruise.
Three days later, another four officers – including two sergeants – enjoyed a ‘Jive Aces’ concert, courtesy of the church.
The same band, who music industry sources say can charge up to £5,000 a night, had previously given their services free to a concert at Bishopsgate police station for a fund raising event.
In addition, the scientologists have made donations of £6,250 to the City of London Children’s Charity.
Last night Audrey Chaytor, of the Family Action Information Resource Centre, which works with families who have been indoctrinated into cults, said: ‘This is appalling. Police officers should not be accepting these kind of invitations.
‘The scientologists have one motive when they are doing this and that is to gain influence in the corridors of power.
“I cannot believe the police have been so naive.”
A City of London Police spokesman said: “We are conducting a review to ensure that all members of staff are aware of the force policy on accepting hospitality and to assess whether clarification or amendment of this policy is necessary.”1