7 June 1935|
|Died||4 May 2004
The Mind Benders
Cyril Ronald Vosper (7 June 1935 – 4 May 2004) was a Scientologist and later a critic of Scientology. He wrote The Mind Benders, which was the first book on Scientology to be written by an ex-member and the first critical book on Scientology to be published (narrowly beating Inside Scientology by Robert Kaufman).
Vosper was born in 1935, in Hounslow, Middlesex (part of Greater London) and lived his early life in Britain. He joined the Hubbard Association of Scientologists International (the overseas arm of the Church of Scientology) in 1954 at the age of 19. He soon became a Scientology auditor. In 1956, he was personally cited by L. Ron Hubbard for his "test work and the wonderful results [he has] obtained on pcs [preclears] processed under various directives." Vosper joined Hubbard's staff at Saint Hill Manor in the 1960s, working as the Dissemination Secretary, World Wide and Dissemination Secretary, Evening and Weekend Foundation. He was expelled in September 1968 for alleged disciplinary offences.
In 1971, Vosper published The Mind Benders, a highly critical account of Scientology. The book contained a significant amount of inside information about Scientology including quotations from a number of Hubbard's works. The Church of Scientology sued for breach of copyright and breach of confidence but its case was rejected by the courts. At one stage in the litigation, a High Court judge was reported as saying of applications by the Church that Vosper and a newspaper editor be committed to prison for contempt of court, that these actions were deliberately taken "to try to stifle any criticism or inquiry into their [the Church of Scientology's] affairs". The Church was permitted to appeal the case but the Court of Appeal rejected the Church's appeal, finding "fair dealing in The Mind Benders in criticising scientology and that it was in the public interest to investigate and disclose."
Following the outcome of the case, Vosper asserted that he had been subjected to "dirty tricks" carried out by the Church. According to him, a copy of his manuscript disappeared from his lodgings and, while on holiday in Spain, he was questioned by the police when they opened a parcel addressed to the place in which he was staying, containing obscene caricatures of the Spanish dictator General Franco.
Vosper subsequently became a deprogrammer, working to extract individuals from groups he considered to be cults. In November 1987, while a committee member of the British anti-cult group, FAIR, he was convicted in Munich on charges of false imprisonment and causing bodily harm to German Scientologist Barbara Schwarz in the course of a deprogramming attempt. He received a five month suspended sentence.
In 1988, after moving to Melbourne, Australia, he was an exit counsellor with the Australian anti-cult group CultAware. He also did frequent press, radio and television interviews as an expert on Scientology from the 1980s through to his death, and demonstrated against the Church of Scientology in the late 1990s. Working as national co-ordinator for Prostate Assist, he became a committed spokesman on men's health issues, in particular, prostate cancer.
- Vosper, Cyril. The Mind Benders. Neville Spearman, 1971
- Hubbard, "Summary of Intensives since June". 21 August 1956
- Daily Telegraph, 4 March 1972.
- Hubbard v Vosper,  2 QB 84.
- Wallis, Roy. The Road to Total Freedom, p. 219. Heineman, London, 1976.
- Eileen Barker Watching for Violence, A Comparative Analysis of the Roles of Five Types of Cult-Watching Groups CESNUR. An unpublished draft paper presented at a 2001 CESNUR Conference in London.
- Elisabeth Arweck, Researching New Religious Movements: Responses and Redefinitions, 2005, page 114 ISBN 0-415-27755-8
- "Anti-Cult Groups Riven by Schism and Bitter Feuds", The Independent on Sunday, October 10, 1994
- The Guardian (London), December 30, 1987. Title: "UK News In Brief: Britons convicted of kidnapping." Full text: "Two Britons were yesterday convicted by a Munich court on charges of false imprisonment and causing bodily harm. Cyril Vosper, aged 52, and John Mathewson, aged 25, were stated to have held 32 year old Barbara Schwarz against her will for 12 hours in an attempt to persuade her to abandon her religion. Vosper received a five month suspended sentence and Mathewson a three month suspended sentence."
- Cyril Vosper, The Mind-benders: Scientology, Mayflower (April 19, 1973), trade paperback, 176 pages, ISBN 0-583-12249-3; hardcover, Neville Spearman Ltd (September 9, 1971), 190 pages, ISBN 0-85435-061-6
- Warrior Against Sect And Prostate Cancer (obituary, The Age, 12 May 2004)
- The Mind Benders (complete book)
- Cyril Vosper interview, 3-RRR Liars' Club, 10am-11am Sun 03 Sep 1995 (transcript)
- Researching New Religious Movements: Responses and Redefinitions by Elisabeth Arweck, p. 114 (required Google login)
- Hubbard v. Vosper (1972) 2 QB 84 - seminal copyright case