Tom Cruise has long proclaimed his faith in Scientology. Now, however, he is reportedly preparing a lawsuit against author Andrew Morton for his book, Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography, in which he details an assortment of cult-like episodes involving Cruise and states that Cruise is now the de facto second-in-command of the Church. If filed, it could prove a fascinating case since discovery would probably not appeal to the notoriously secretive Church of Scientology. Among other things, Morton would be entitled to call Scientology leader David Miscavige, who is discussed at length in the book.
The Morton book addresses paints a picture of a star courted and then controlled by the Church of Scientology.
Miscavige is said in the book to have gone to extraordinary lengths to charm Cruise, even ordering his staff to plant a field full of wild flowers at a Scientology base in California after Cruise had told him of his fantasy to run through a wildflower meadow with his then newlywed wife Nicole Kidman.
The relationship between the two men is so close that, according to Morton’s book, Miscavige even joined him on honeymoon in the Maldives after his wedding to Katie Holmes in 2006.
Cruise denies each of the claims vehemently, and Scientology lawyers are believed to be drawing up a lawsuit seeking £50million in compensation from Morton’s publishers, St Martin’s Press.
Cruise’s lawyer and close confidante Bert Fields gave a rare interview to The Mail on Sunday to pour scorn on Morton’s book, titled Tom Cruise: An Unauthorised Biography.
He criticised a passage in which Morton claims some “fanatical” Scientologists believed Suri Cruise was actually the result of a sperm donation by Scientology’s dead founder, L. Ron Hubbard.
Morton writes that Ms Holmes may feel she was in “the horror movie Rosemary’s Baby, in which an unsuspecting young woman is impregnated with the Devil’s child”.
It is pretty raw stuff, but the question is whether it is defamatory. Cruise is a public figure and falls under the New York Times v. Sullivan standard in any case filed in the United States. Morton claims to have affidavits on such assertions as the wild flower incident. Moreover, statements about Rosemary’s baby are clearly opinion as are his characterizations of the Church as a cult. Indeed, Germany and other nations have declared Scientology a cult. As noted here, Germany has moved to expel Scientology. Likewise, as noted here, Belgium has moved against Scientology as an alleged cult.
The real question is the tolerance of the Church for the discovery and disclosures inherent in litigation. For example, Morton says that Cruise is followed by a collection of Scientologists who control his environment and “slavishly tape-recorded his every utterance”. In discovery, any such recordings would be subject to review as would be the mysterious role of the so-called Sea Organisation or Sea Org. Sea org members are allegedly used to control and police the ranks of Scientologists and Morton would be entitled to inquire as to the members and composition of the Sea Org.
Cruise would likely try to bring the action in England where it is easier to prevail on defamation and puts considerable burdens on the defendant to prove the truth of their statements. Nevertheless, even in England, the legal process could expose more than the Church or the Sea Org would want.
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