The Toronto Sun
Thursday, November 4, 1976
Scientologists go to court in effort to halt Sun series
Federal post office investigators are checking Canadian and U.S. postal networks to trace a personal letter written by a Toronto Sun reporter which was intercepted and ended up in the hands of the Toronto Church of Scientology. The Church of Scientology, subject of a nine-part investigative series by Sun writer Mark Bonokoski is currently attempting to halt the continuation of the articles and is using the letter as a basis for their case. The letter, written by Bonokoski on Sept. 27 and addressed to Stephen Advokat, a Florida reporter, who is investigating the Church of Scientology in Clearwater, never arrived. [The l]etter, personal in nature, contained a number of journalistic quips regarding the series, which, at that time, was still a month away from print.
However, earlier this week a copy of the letter landed on the desk of Sun lawyer Ed Eberle, carrying the threat of further legal action by the Church of Scientology, should the series continue.
According to sources at Queen’s Park, the letter was also distributed by the church to a number of government officials, including Stuart Smith, provincial Liberal party leader.
Using the courts to the advantage of the Scientology cause has been advocated at length by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology. In 1971, for example, a Scientology reprint of the Hubbard statement read: “The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than win. The law can be used very easily to harass.”
The Church of Scientology, with a lengthy history of suing at merely a whisper of controversy, began its legal action against Bonokoski and the Sun on Oct. 12, 19 days before the first installment was published. A Supreme Court of Ontario writ issued by the church on that day accused Bonokoski of conspiring with an ex-Scientologist to injure the church. The suit came five days after Peter Ginever, public affairs officer for the church in Toronto, wrote Bonokoski, requesting his manuscripts be read by church officials for “factual inaccuracies” before publication. “We do not want to conclude on the day of printing,” wrote Ginever, “that this affair has been in the nature of a set up — or your purpose malicious.” After receiving a negative reply from Bonokoski, Ginever, contacted the reporter again, accusing him of unprofessional conduct, and threatened suit.
As a result of that letter from Ginever, copies of which went to Sun publisher Douglas Creighton and editor-in-chief Peter Worthington, Bonokoski retained Toronto lawyer Clay Ruby, and sued the Toronto Church of Scientology and Ginever for libel.
Worthington, at the same time, was receiving letters from the church’s legal secretary demanding his authorization to read the series before publication. The threat again, should Worthington not comply, was a lawsuit. Worthington did not answer any of the letters.
On Oct. 27, still four days before publication, of Bonokoski’s series, the Church of Scientology sued the Toronto Sun Publishing Ltd. for damages and sought an injunction to stop publishing information on the church allegedly received wrongly from an ex-Scientologist.
The series continues today on page 37.
File/Ref. No.: 17-cv-03842-A (371-407)