HC Deb 23 February 1977 vol 926 cc1586-98

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.— [Mr. Ashton.]

11.55 p.m.

Mr. Paul B. Rose (Manchester, Blackley)

In October 1975 I raised on the adjournment the activities of the so-called Unification Church and I trust that the evidence that I presented then will be considered in conjunction with what I say tonight, so as to avoid repetition. Sixteen months later, however, the Home Office is still considering the evidence, the DPP has not yet acted and the Charity Commissioner has been playing Pontius Pilate, while lives are wrecked and fraud prospers. Meanwhile, I have a file of such massive proportions that the leader of the Moon cult would tremble in his paranoid shoes were the contents made available by a full public inquiry.

Only the use of widespread intimidation, backed by the infinite resources of what is now estimated to be a $50 million empire, prevents the Press from doing more than scratch the slimy surface of what must be one of the most evil phenomena of our times. In a letter dated 27th January 1977 to Mr. Johnson, the vicar of Stratton St. Margaret, who has done sterling work in countering this bogus and blasphemous private army, the Charity Commissioner admitted: Unification Church appears to be a collective name covering many different organisations and it has not, so far as I am aware, applied for registration on the Central Register of Charities under that name. There are two charities registered which are concerned with the teachings of Sun Myung Moon:

  1. 1. The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity; the activities, incidentally, are stated to be 'throughout the world'.
  2. 2. The Sun Myung Moon Foundation."
Both refer to the "Divine Principle", which has as much in common with Christianity as had Ghengis Khan.

The Charity Commissioner takes no cognisance of the "Divine Principle", which, on his own admission, he has not read. He refuses to consider the interlocking matrix of organisations which take advantage of the charitable status of the parent charity, the Sun Myung Moon Foundation, and the other charity and which promote political propaganda. He takes no cognisance of the pattern of fraudulent collecting and the convictions for collecting without permits, which unfortunately merely deal with the small fry. He takes no cognisance of Moon's involvement in fraud, corruption, bribery of Congressmen and intelligence gathering, in spite of the current revelations in the USA. He is blissfully content to ignore the heart-rending letters of parents and families torn apart by their activities and the psychological techniques which they employ to brainwash disturbed youngsters into becoming itinerant candle vendors for the greater profit of Moon and the benefit of their British leader, Mr. Dennis Orme.

Indeed, the Charity Commissioner has far more discretion than he has ever admitted. His action on the Exclusive Brethren, for instance, contrasts starkly with his inaction on these fraudulent charities. I now have a list of 82 organisations which are front organisations for Mr. Moon, many of them operating in this country. They use the same premises and the same personnel as the charities. Two of them—Unified Family Enterprises and Cartographer Crafts Ltd.—are limited companies. Others, like the One World Crusade or the Foundation for World Peace and Unification, are equally indistinguishable, but they act as the political wings of what is supposed to be a charity, and certainly political ends cannot be charitable ends. No one has bothered to examine their sources of finance, or, indeed, those of the International Cultural Foundation, yet another of the very many front organisations.

Mr. Orme, the Director of the Unification Church, Trustee of the Sun Myung Moon Foundation, Director of Research for the Federation for World Peace and Unification and, indeed, acknowledged in a whole number of newspapers on different dates to be the leader of the cult in Britain, stated as follows in his own magazine on 30th June 1975: Jesus taught that we should hate our father and mother and love him first. It is this doctrine that has brought myriads of letters pouring in to me. I want to read from just one, received last week, because three-fifths of these youngsters are sent abroad, mainly to Korea and Japan, and countless parents would come forward but are blackmailed into silence for fear of losing contact permanently with their children. The letter that I wish to read says this: Since I last wrote to you about my son with the Unification Church in Japan, there have been developments that I want you to know about. On the afternoon of 31st January I had a 'phone call to say Tony was on his way home and would be arriving about 8 p.m. Well he was brought in, he didn't recognise anybody, didn't speak, just a vacant expression on his face. The two ladies made a quick exit saying they had a train to catch back to London (I later realised they had come by car). It wasn't till they had gone that I realised what Tony was really like. He wouldn't, or couldn't eat or drink, so we got him straight to bed. We even had to undress him and put him into bed. He was also incontinent. I called the doctor the next morning, he came and said he would have to go into hospital, but he got a psychiatrist to see him as well who also agreed he must go into hospital. … That day I got another 'phone call from Mr. John Ralph"— that is one of the Moonies— (he rang as soon as Tony arrived home as well) saying Tony was fine on the Sunday. But what he didn't say was that Tony had been in England a week. We found that out from his passport. That is the experience of one parent. It is exactly in line with the research of Professor John Clark, an American psychiatrist who had a public meeting in the House of Commons on 19th July last year and who said that his research had shown that one-third of the recruits were schizophrenic, one-quarter had personality problems and 42 per cent. were passing through the normal process of maturation… Unacceptable pressures were applied to potential recruits. Once brainwashed they were taught to raise funds. The motivation for the organisers in the case of the Unification Church is private gain, and a lot of money is involved. Mrs. Lees, who lives in Wiltshire, was reported in the Daily Mail on 25th September of last year as saying about her son, who is now in Japan, Converts are preached at 12 or 13 hours a day. They go into a stupor. They act like slaves to the movement. I shall not repeat the experiences of the Rank's daughter, which I outlined in the previous debate on this subject.

I have case history after case history and sworn testimony of ex-members. I have the diary of a girl, Rosalind Mitchell, whose father was conned into giving away an £800,000 estate in Stanton Fitzwarren. My hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) has raised the question of pressure to hand over money to the sect in relation to one of his constituents. In the Rank's case there was some attempt in relation to a £27,000 inheritance. There are letters of a similar nature on my file from all parts of the country. I have to treat many of them in confidence because the parents are too terrified to speak out loud.

A short analysis by Marvin Calper, a doctor of philosophy and clinical psychologist, describes the brainwashing process as follows: Suppression of the individual's rational judgment process is fostered by sleep deprivation and sensory bombardment. Mobilisation of guilt and anxiety in the indoctrinee intensifies this inhibitoin of judgmental processes and at the same time to heighten suggestibility a child-like ego state is fostered in the individual. He is constantly manipulated and modelled by skilfully applied methods of indirect suggestion. Rosalind Mitchell's deposition, which I have, confirms this. The special report on the Unification Church, its activities and practices of 18th February 1976 in the United States gives countless letters of testimony from parents and ex-member victims. A suicide, an attempted suicide, a woman who wound up in the intensive care unit of a psychiatric hospital in Boston and an inordinate number of trauma cases in another hospital near the Moonies' 205-acre estate at Barrytown are just a few examples.

All this is relevant to this country, whatever the Charity Commissioner says, because British citizens are sent to the United States on 40-day training courses, with a lure of a £10 fare but with no knowledge of what they are in for. Many of the converts are sent to the United States. Three of these students are now officers of a group which has been formed to counter that body, a group of which I am chairman, called Family Action Information and Rescue. It works together with parents and relatives, clergymen of all denominations and journalists who have been horrified by what they have seen. All are able to testify to what Carol Stedman, a former Moonie, described as "a nightmare called Moon."

Mr. Moon's tax-exempt status in the United States, according to last Sunday's issue of The Observer, brings him in £15 million income a year. In this country his followers are contributing to his baronial residence, his two yachts, two limousines and bodyguards through the benevolence of the Charity Commissioner, who has eyes but will not see.

These are just random examples. Another is a girl with a brain tumour at the Moonie headquarters at Lancaster Gate, which are guarded night and day, not so that people cannot get in but so that they cannot get out. She was told by the leader of the sect in Britain, Mr. Orme, that universities and colleges were Satanic. As Dr. Beckford, now doing research on the subject, wrote in Psychology Today: Marriages and engagements have been broken when one partner acknowledges Moon as lord and master. Promising careers have been shattered and families have been split. Richard Dunn, a former member, described in a letter to me how: For something I did wrong, getting up two hours late, say, I would be punished by being forced to kneel in a prayer position for three hours … All my freedom had been taken away from me by them. Meanwhile, on 5th August 1973 at the Washington Hilton, the Freedom Leadership Foundation, whose finances are totally mixed up with the charitable bodies and which acts as the political wing in the United States, was listening to Mrs. Orme and enjoying a six-course menu of iced fruits, breast of chicken, black cherries in port wine sauce and crushed strawberries. I know, because I have the menu.

Nearer home, in February 1973 The Family News, published at Rowlane Farm, Dunsden, another of the sect's properties, was urging its converts to 'Get on with selling … the funds we had were spent on the costs of travel and clothes for those who went to America. Sell fast. Go like the blazes!!! Be adventurous for God. He will protect you and yours. He will be right behind you. Remember, when you are out on the pavement doing your bit for Father"— Moon— that you are the children of True Parents. Think of the leader. Think of him wearing a crown as the King of Kings. If ever there was an incitement to break the law, couched in rather odd phrases, that was it. Indeed; the Moonie pledge includes swearing I will fight with my life for Moon.

But out on the pavement, following convictions at Newquay in 1975, on 20th January of this year another conviction for unauthorised sale occurred in Bristol. On the previous day a spokesman for Guildford Borough Council had said that the Holy Spirit Association had not been issued with a street traders' licence and could be fined under the Guildford Corporation Act. He said: The sect founded by 56-years-old Korean divorcee and multi-millionaire Sun Myung Moon has been investigated by Guildford police following several attempts to sell leaflets and goods without a licence. I have had reports of obtaining by deception or other offences from all over the country. The last one came last Sunday from a lady who works on the religious programme on Scottish radio in Edinburgh.

The paranoic Mr. Orme had the effrontery to complain to the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, alleging a conspiracy involving Chief Inspector Foulkes and me in a vendetta against the Unification Church. His allegation was investigated and Mr. Orme was informed that his allegations were without foundation, as I was informed in a letter of 6th August 1976.

Undoubtedly Orme commands the operation of these charities, companies and other multifarious bodies in Britain. The Sunday Mirror of 26th September 1976 described him as intimidating … The most terrifying man I have ever met". I mention this because any individual who dares to criticise the Unification Church is likely to receive a libel writ from three unknown youngsters, dupes who have been appointed trustees of Holy Spirit Association and whose own parents have written to me. If they are using the funds of a registered charity for such action they are acting ultra vires. Heaven nows where the money comes from, but perhaps Mr. Moon knows.

The Minister should consider this financial aspect since I have had it confirmed from independent sources that their accountant has been attempting to obtain loans of up to £600,000 on the collateral of property owned by these registered charities to export it illegally to the USA—to which end two meetings were held in Geneva. The sources are impeccable but confidential.

How would the money be used? The answer lies in current inquiries in the USA Internal Revenue Service into the illegal import of money and the Federal inquiry into corruption and intelligence by Moon' entourage. The Washington Post, the Guardian, the Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph have all carried reports of the involvement of Moon, his interpreter and closest aid, Pak Bo Hi, and Tongsui Pak, an investor in his Diplomat Bank, in a conspiracy to bribe Congressmen, obtain contracts, provide prostitutes and to influence US policy in Korea.

The Financial Times exposed the connection between the FLF and the Korean CIA on 12th July 1976. A Dr. Lee, who sought political asylum in the US in 1973, revealed the same. Alan Tate Wood, former leader of the FLF, which is the political wing of the so-called charity, also defected, and I have one of the three copies of his statement in this country. I shall read one passage that I regard as significant. It says: Moon's is the only 'Christian' group in Korea that has not suffered at the hands of President Park's brutal suppression of free speech and civil liberties. Moon, far from repudiating the Park government's beating and torture of Korean ministers, sponsored and organized a pro-government rally last summer in which 1,200,000 people participated according to a press release given by the Unification Church in Washington. This is the equivalent of John the Baptist holding a pro-government demonstration in Jerusalem in support of King Herod. What does Moon himself say? We know Mr. Orme entertained Korean diplomats at his rather spacious home when he lived at Barn Hill and that he used to drive a white Jaguar there, but what of Moon? He says of Christianity: The Christians are the ones who hate us most, they hate us because Satan is in them. This is what he says of Jews: The 6 million Jews that died in the holocaust were paying their just indemnity for killing Christ. He says of his goals: The whole world is in my hands and I will conquer and subjugate the world. Moon says: The present U.N. will be destroyed by our power. He has also said: The time will come without my seeking it, that my words will almost serve as law. If I ask a certain thing it will be done. Moon has said: Our strategy is to be united into one with ourselves, and with that as the bullet, we can smash the whole world. To his followers he has said: Even if you have to be beaten and driven out to the place of death, if you are ready to obey your True Parents— Moon and wife— in utter devotion then you are sure to go the heavenly course Another is: In order for you to be a dynamic lecturer, you must know the knack of holding and possessing the listeners' hearts. If there appears a crack in the man's personality, you wedge in a chisel, and split the person apart. God knows how many people have been split apart in this country while the Home Office and the Charity Commissioners have done nothing about these charities.

What emerges from the thousands of documents in my files, which are open to inspection, is that Moon is a megalomaniac and degenerate who used to indulge in what was called a blood cleansing ceremony of intercourse with his female initiates. He was expelled from Korea for corrupting public morals and he has built a vast commercial and political empire based on barbarian methods and intimidation of opponents. The one thing that he cannot do is to silence a British Member of Parliament, even with 100 libel writs, though he can bribe American Congressmen—we have certain advantages here.

He is a political pimp and gangster who has proclaimed himself to be the Messiah who will succeed where Christ failed, yet the Home Office have written in a letter that he is not an undesirable—and this at a time when it is about to deport the American journalist who first exposed Moon.

I have only 20 minutes in this debate. I have enough on my files to speak for 20 days on what I know about Moon and these charities. I only hope that the Home Office and the Charity Commissioners will do something to deal with what I have referred to as a rather nasty cancer in our midst.

12.18 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Dr. Shirley Summerskill)

I appreciate the concern with which my hon. Friend, the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) views the position and activities of the various bodies associated with Sun Myung Moon. My hon. Friend has been both assiduous and meticulous in accumulating information about these bodies. Much of this he has passed to the Home Office, where we have studied carefully all the material he has sent in. My colleagues and I have been left in no doubt about my hon. Friend's strength of feeling in the matter and the active concern he has devoted to the subject.

My hon. Friend has chosen to relate the debate tonight specifically to the charitable status of the Sun Myung Moon Foundation and its associated bodies. The first thing that I have to say to my hon. Friend on the question of charitable status is that it is a matter for which there is no ministerial responsibility whatever. Decisions on the registration of charities are solely for the Charity Commissioners to take, in accordance with their interpretation of the law and consistently with the duties imposed on them by statute. The commissioners' decisions are subject to appeal, not to any Minister, but to the High Court. Short of legislation—which it would not be in order for us to discuss this evening—there is no way in which my right hon. Friend could intervene in these matters.

Secondly, I must make it clear that registration as a charity does not imply a value judgment regarding the effectiveness or desirability of the organisation that is registered. It simply means that the objects of the organisation, as expressed in its deeds, are charitable according to the general criteria of English law, under which charitable purposes include inter alia the advancement of religion. On the question, therefore, of charitable status for organisations connected with Mr. Moon, all that I can do to assist my hon. Friend and the House is to state briefly the facts as I have ascertained them from the Charity Commissioners and to explain how the matter now stands.

There are two bodies registered as charities in England and Wales which are connected with Mr. Moon. One, the Sun Myung Moon Foundation, was registered as a charity in 1974. Its stated objects are, broadly, the advancement of monotheistic religion, education and other general charitable purposes. The other registered charity is the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, registered in 1968. Its object is to promote the Christian faith by the worship of God and the study, teaching and practical application of divine principle and in particular to support, expand and advance Christian Unity throughout the world". Since registration, these charities have, as they are required to do, submitted copies of their accounts to the commissioners and these are open to public inspection in the Central Register of Charities.

I understand from the Charity Commissioners that there has been a series of complaints to them about the activities of these charities, in particular about the life-style of their adherents and their methods of fund-raising. While these complaints stem from an understandable anxiety on the part of many people— parents of converts, parish councils near the Unification Church's centres, and members of the clergy, amongst others —the Charity Commissioners have not been presented with any evidence that these charities have acted in breach of their trusts. I know that, if any such evidence were forthcoming, the commissioners would investigate it very closely and take whatever action was found to be necessary.

Having explained the position on the charitable status of these organisations, I should like to make a number of general observations. My hon. Friend has expressed concern—and indeed I think he has been wise to emphasise this aspect of the matter—about the effect the activities of these bodies have on individual people, especially young people. He has drawn attention to what he believes are psychological dangers and harmful effects upon families. He has claimed that children, particularly vulnerable and impressionable teenagers, are split off from their families, that they are forced, through psychological pressure and other techniques, to devote their whole lives, and any financial resources they possess, to Mr. Moon's organisations. My hon. Friend has forwarded to us several case histories, some of which are harrowing to read—cases of hardship and distress, the agony of parents and the disillusionment of young people.

The first question which must be asked is whether the activities of these bodies are within the law. Has any crime been committed? This is not a matter for the Government to judge, but it is most important that anyone who has evidence which might suggest that a criminal offence has been committed should make it known to the police. My hon. Friend has been assiduous in forwarding information available to him, and my ministerial colleagues and I have made sure that any information passed to us which could conceivably bear on a possible criminal offence does go to the police. I must, however, say that the information that has been provided so far has not, in the judgment of those responsible, warranted prosecution for any major criminal offence. But there have been a few prosecutions on minor charges connected with street collections.

If these organisations keep within the law, it is a very serious matter indeed to suggest that the Government should take action against them none the less. My right hon. Friend and I may as individuals take the view that the doctrines advanced by Mr. Moon are lunatic. We may be particularly suspicious of the motives of people who, while claiming to benefit humanity, have substantially enriched themselves. But these are matters of opinion, and surely it is one of the principles of a free society that people may propagate ideas which the majority of us do not share and do not like.

If the Government as a Government took action against organisations which they regarded as wrong-headed or even worse, we should be living in a rather different kind of society. The cost of such freedom is that some people will spend their money foolishly, be led astray by charlatans and even misunderstand the motives and feelings of their families and true friends. But when we decided that people should be treated as adults from the age of 18, this meant that they had the right to make their own choice on the way they wished to lead their lives and to make their own mistakes.

There is, of course, a wider context—namely, the international one.

The Question having been proposed after Ten o'clock on Wednesday evening, and the debate having continued for half an hour, Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put pursuant to the Standing Order.

Adjourned at twenty-five minutes past Twelve o'clock.