|Claims||Esoteric healing; esoteric breast massage, chakra-puncture, ovarian readings, esoteric ovary massage, esoteric connective tissue therapy.|
|Related fields||Esotericism, Occult, New Religious Movements, Pseudoscience, Theosophy.|
|Original proponents||Serge Benhayon|
|Subsequent proponents||In Australia: Natalie, Michael & Deborah Benhayon, Kate Greenaway, Caroline Raphael, Anne Malatt, Rachel Hall, Howard Chilton, Amelia Stephens, Christoph Schnelle, Nicola Lessing, Vanessa McHardy, Desiree Delaloye, Serryn O'Regan, Samuel Tae-Kyu Kim, Jasna Kim (Jugovic), Neil Ringe, Michael Serafin, Maxine Szramka, Ray Karam, Sarah Karam, Tanya Curtis, Sarah Broome (Davis), Rebecca Asquith (Baldwin) Karoline Pearson & Katie Walls. In the UK: Simone Benhayon, Sara Williams, Jane Keep, Eunice Minford, Simon Williams & Rowena Stewart.|
Universal Medicine (UniMed) (UM) is "a socially harmful cult" founded and led by Serge Benhayon, a former bankrupt tennis coach from New South Wales Australia who has no medical qualifications. It sells "Esoteric healing" products, music, publications, workshops and courses. None of the healing modalities is evidence based or has been proven effective by scientific research. Uruguayan-born Benhayon founded the group in 1999 after receiving what he described as an "energetic impress" whilst on the toilet. A New South Wales Supreme Court jury found it was substantially true to say that he leads a "socially harmful cult", "intentionally indecently touched" clients and "is a charlatan who makes fraudulent medical claims".
The organisation is principally located in Goonellabah and Wollongbar, near Lismore, New South Wales, Australia. Its European headquarters are known as "The Lighthouse" and is situated between Tytherington and Frome, Somerset, England.
The signature treatments practised and taught by Universal Medicine are "esoteric breast massage", "esoteric healing", "ovarian readings", "chakra-puncture", "esoteric connective tissue therapy" and "esoteric ovary massage". All treatments were devised by Serge Benhayon, who has claimed the business grosses at least AUD$2 million a year from courses and retreats.
The followers of its doctrine, "The Way of the Livingness", are known collectively as "The Student Body". "The Teachings" are classified into meditation, self-care, nutrition, exercise, music, reincarnation, psychological wellbeing and the esoteric, and are supported by audio, books, and online lectures. Serge Benhayon describes himself as a "seer", calls himself "the descended master", and followers call him the "new Messiah". They also believe he "was the one sent from (the mythical kingdom of) Shambhala to awaken us all".
While Benhayon has denied engaging in unethical practices, significant evidence to the contrary has been documented.
- 1 Beliefs and teachings
- 2 Treatments and practices
- 3 Esoteric breast massage
- 4 Regulatory and other issues
- 5 Legal Issues
- 6 Criticism removed from Google searches
- 7 Subsidiary and affiliated companies and organisations
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Beliefs and teachings
Serge Benhayon's message for the "New Era", January 1, 2012
Esoteric healing beliefs are based on the occult teachings of early 20th century theosophist Alice A. Bailey. Serge Benhayon has claimed to be the reincarnation of Leonardo da Vinci and Pythagoras as well as Alice A. Bailey, Imhotep and Saint Peter. He has written that Leonardo da Vinci is a "Claimed Son of God" and teaches that he is connected energetically to an ancient lineage of "living wisdom", and more "High Initiates" and Claimed Sons of God will reincarnate "over and over again until each and every single human is united as one, by their true light". Benhayon also claims that his daughter, Simone, a swimming teacher and director of Universal Medicine UK, is the reincarnation of Winston Churchill.
Serge Benhayon devised Universal Medicine's healing practices based on the belief that disease is caused by energetic disharmony resulting from ill choices made in this and previous lifetimes. Benhayon teaches that there are two types of energy: prana (प्राण, prāṇa; Sanskrit for life force) and fire. Most forms of established wisdom, knowledge and belief, as well as most music and certain foods are believed to contain prana, which he regards as evil. Prana is to be rejected or cleared to be replaced with "fiery energy" which emanates from the "Atmic womb of God". Universal Medicine healing modalities and products, including teas, herbal elixirs, creams and laminated healing symbol postcards, aim to clear prana.
Benhayon teaches that people who abuse their authority, such as dictators and corrupt politicians, are reincarnated as children with disabilities "as are Down syndrome, as are spastic,(sic) or any other disabled child" and claims disabilities such as Autism and Down syndrome are karma for past life sins. He has also controversially stated on many occasions that sexual abuse, including that towards children, is karma from past lives and the universe attempting to stop a person from continuing to make non-loving choices.
He also teaches that illness is caused by the possession of the body by evil spirits, and is reported to have told a terminally ill patient that an evil spirit had entered her liver and kidneys, also if these entities are of a sexual nature then they can invade a father's body and whilst he sleeps at night leave his body and rape his daughters.
On race he writes that skin color evolution was a conscious choice and that Asians chose yellow skin, "yellow signifies the intellect" and the "pursuit of a lighter complexion arose when Black (sic) became erroneously identified with the Darkness (sic)". He taught his followers that if their children misspent their inheritance, or if they set conditions on their donations to UM, their "kidney energy" could be harmed in the next life.
Universal Medicine and The Way of the Livingness has followers in Australia, the UK, North America and Europe. Critics have characterised it as a cult, which has left a "trail of broken families". An ex-partner of a Universal Medicine supporter complained that Benhayon "controlled every aspect of our lives". Benhayon, who is reportedly referred to as a "fifth degree initiate" and "The One", rejects these claims. According to the Chilling Effects website and other sources he has used legal threats to attempt to have cult allegations, including those within media reports, removed from Google search indexes.
Benhayon and other senior members claim to be victims of a media witch hunt and have a history of calling the police on journalists. The group's devotees and practitioners reportedly inundate media organisations who publish stories about UM with angry letters and written complaints and denounce those in the media who critique them as "irresponsible journalists". Senior UM members label non-believers as "detractors" and reportedly claim that those detractors are really afraid of them. Officially UM denies it is a cult, but when Australian Doctor questioned Amelia Stephens, a public advocate of UM and a Brisbane doctor, she replied "This depends on what your definition of a cult is".
Followers claim to be members of UM, which they assert is "like a religion" but Benhayon contradicted this saying he ran a business with clients and that there is "no group and no members". Benhayon's doctrine "The Way of the Livingness" is one which he currently operates under his Universal Medicine business and is a 'form of theosophy'. It was denied charitable status in the UK in 2011 as it did not meet the criteria of a genuine religion and is not registered as a religion in Australia. Helena Blavatsky, the founder of the 19th century theosophy that Benhayon's doctrine is based on insists that is not a religion.
Benhayon claims that Universal Medicine is not liked in the NSW Northern Rivers community because, as he says: "we have standards they cannot meet". Senior UM members and Benhayon family members were once active on the board's of Lismore, Byron Bay and Ballina Chambers of Commerce in NSW and resigned from the Lismore Chamber due to association with UM. Senior UM members have also run for Liberal and National Party preselection in NSW. In the UK Senior UM members resigned from the board of Frome Chamber of Commerce after their association with UM was reported by the BBC.
Critics say Universal Medicine places unreasonable pressure on followers to adhere to a severely restricted diet and to avoid most exercise for fear those things might "infect their spiritual alignment" and lead to poor health. After reviewing a diet chart from Universal Medicine, the Professor of Public Health at the University of Wollongong and former president of the Public Health Association of Australia Heather Yeatman said it was “a public health issue” when children were placed on such restrictive diets: “If a child is not having dairy or cereals they are likely to be low in energy intake and there could be the risk of stunting if children are not getting enough energy. It is critically important there is a balanced diet, especially at the weaning stage because it can impact overall growth and cognitive development. It’s a public health issue.” This came after the report of a baby of UM member parents was hospitalised due to diet-related illness.
Followers are reportedly told health problems result from wrongdoings in their past lives. Cult Counselling Australia director Raphael Aron said his organisation had a researcher working full time on Universal Medicine after counselling former clients who were concerned about its influence on their children. Aron said CCA had also counselled breakaway followers, who were still "battling" to withdraw emotionally from the group and that:
- UM seems to be "exercising a level of mind control to the point where people submit to whatever this fellow seems to be offering, to their detriment... What he’s doing is potentially very dangerous".
Benhayon denies he or the group interfere in "the students" personal lives but detractors say relationships become impossible when everything from music to sex must be "Serge-approved". Cult expert David Millikan was quoted as saying “[Mr Benhayon] knows what they should read, what they should wear, what they should eat, how they should exercise, what sort of sexual life they should have and so they end up in this closed world". The NSW Supreme Court found the statements that Benhayon "is sexually manipulative of his cult followers" and "engages in bizarre sexual manipulation to make money for his business" to be true imputations.
Treatments and practices
NSW Supreme Court jury findings, December 6, 2018
Universal Medicine markets practitioner training and accreditation through its Esoteric Practitioners Association Pty Ltd; however, the training and qualifications are not recognised and "esoteric practitioners" are not accredited. Members of the association are charged an annual fee. Clients have been reported to spend tens of thousands of Australian dollars on Universal Medicine products and services.
Benhayon's "esoteric connective tissue therapy" is said to improve the patient's energy flow by "allowing the pulse of the lymphatic system to symbiotically correspond with the body's own ensheathing web". Prof. John Dwyer describes the existence of a lymphatic pulse as "utter nonsense".
Universal Medicine also provides counselling services to parents, body-awareness education workshops to young women, cardiosacral pulse and craniosacral readings as well as "exorcism sessions" where children were reportedly present.
In November 2014 Universal Medicine's treatments were highlighted in a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry report by the Health Care Complaints Committee which states:
- "While there is little anecdotal evidence to suggest actual harm caused by these treatments, concerns were raised that patients may forgo seeking proper medical advice and care. Two patients who were undergoing therapies at Universal Medicine were independently diagnosed with cancer and bronchiectasis respectively, and required proper medical intervention in order to be properly treated".
Controversy surrounds referrals for esoteric treatments by some doctors, a situation that medical regulators say is difficult to address. During the inquiry Don Page MP said these type of referrals "would give most people considerable concern". Universal Medicine's registered allied health practitioners allegedly encourage followers to seek GP referral for Medicare treatment plans to pay for sessions. A former patient who received treatment from a UM physiotherapist under a Medicare plan reported the "Universal physio claimed her health was improving from 'craniosacral pulse' therapy", however, "her GP ordered tests that found she had cancer". The patient was reportedly told by Universal Medicine that "doctors will make you sicker than you already are". Another patient was told by a thoracic physician and student of UM that conventional HRT was harmful and "deep-seated grief is a major driving factor in lung disease". Professor Dwyer stated that it was "highly reprehensible" that medical professionals registered on a "promise to practise evidence-based medicine" were engaged in promoting "cultish behaviour".
Serge Benhayon has responded to criticism stating that UM does not "interfere with medicine... We do not hold ourselves above medicine. We are super pro medicine". UM conducts retreats such as "the science of Divination". Sydney paediatrician and "Baby Doc" author, Howard Chilton, has endorsed Benhayon as a "teacher of enormous integrity". Chilton has given talks at the company's women's health forums but claims his support for UM is a personal matter unrelated to evidence-based practice. Chilton's daughter Isabella is married to Benhayon's son Curtis. UM associated thoracic surgeon Sam Kim, who has praised Benhayon's esoteric breast massage, states UM is a reputable healing organisation, not a cult, and Benhayon supporter, Bangalow ophthalmologist Anne Malatt, says the "core tenet of Serge's teachings is energetic integrity" and "when put into practice on a daily basis, they work". Sydney rheumatologist and UM advocate Maxine Szramka claims to have observed UM student’s chronic pain being permanently cured adding UM's esoteric healing practices lead to miracles every day. Her endorsement has now been deleted from the UM website.
UM practices an unproven technique on women called "Deeper Femaleness" claiming it is "great for rape recovery". It involves the "hands-on esoteric healing" of a woman’s abdomen and pubic area and manipulation of the woman's pubic bone. UM publications show the therapy is performed by men.
The treatments have been characterised as "sleazy" with one ex-patient comparing her experience to being subjected to a "grooming exercise". UM has responded by taking the ex-patient to the Supreme Court of NSW alleging defamation. The jury found it was substantially true to say "Serge Benhayon makes bogus healing claims" and "is engaged in a healing fraud that harms people".
Benhayon confirmed the group held a "book burning" near Mullumbimby in 2009. Others reported it as "just like the ritual burning of books in Nazi Germany", where Benhayon's students were invited to throw their books onto the pyre. Most books burnt were on Chinese medicine, kinesiology, acupuncture, homeopathy and other alternative healing modalities, all of which Benhayon had decreed "prana" which he considers "evil".
Benhayon insists women should not play sport, stating: "You’ve become involved with sport, which women should never be, because the right ovary becomes more powerful than the left. They’re ready to have a child but the vaginal walls as thick as, and they’re not a woman energetically, even though they have breasts, vagina, uterus and so forth".
Serge Benhayon confirms revenue from Universal Medicine provides a living for the whole of the extended Benhayon family. In 2016, he had a taxable income of more than $188,000, and his wife, Miranda, $176,000. Approximately $50,000 of his income came from the Universal Family Trust, which also distributed $129,593 to his daughter Natalie, approximately $100,000 to his son Michael, $59,812 to his son Curtis and a further $34,890 to Curtis's wife Isabella. A further $400,000 went to another company. Benhayon's ex-wife Deborah Benhayon receives a salary as the chief financial officer for UM. Real estate to the value of $5.5 million has been linked to the group, including a $1.75 million property in Brisbane, and a hall valued at $2.3 million. All of his four children hold positions within the organisation. Serge Benhayon personally holds an extensive property portfolio in Northern NSW, and when in Australia lives on a private estate near Lismore, and when in England lives in a house at 'The Lighthouse' estate near Frome in Somerset.
Esoteric breast massage
Esoteric breast massage, stated by the group to be administered only by women, has been reportedly promoted to "cure or prevent breast cancer" by rekindling femaleness. This was described as "irresponsible, dangerous and misleading" by Matthew Lam, research director of Breakthrough Breast Cancer. NSW Cancer Council CEO Dr Andrew Penman said there was no medical evidence massage could prevent breast cancer. Esoteric breast massage claims have also been dismissed by Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA). A former esoteric breast massage patient reported Universal Medicine staff told her it would prevent breast cancer by "clearing… all of men’s negative energy" accumulated over her lifetime. She recalled it as "the most horrible thing I’ve ever had in my entire life". Esoteric breast massage also claims "to heal many issues such as painful periods, polycystic ovaries, endometriosis, bloating/water retention, and pre-menstrual and menopausal symptoms". Such claims have been described as "ludicrous" by University of NSW Emeritus Professor of Medicine, John Dwyer. According to changes recorded in the web archive, those claims were erased from the esoteric breast massage website coinciding with the onset of media scrutiny in July 2012, along with assertions such as:
- "The breasts are emanators of a quality of DIVINE TRUTH that begins at the heart. The heart in connection to the pubic bone chakra, which is aligned to the ovaries, brings the emanation of nurturing out for all to have".
Serge Benhayon instructs his students to "try and avoid as much as possible the nipple area" and when questioned on what aspect of health is addressed by esoteric breast massage in September 2012, he stated: "Disconnection to their bodies". UM also holds a "breast cancer care retreat" at the cost of $60 per head. A 2018 poll in the Medical Journal of Australia found that 94% of respondents agreed that doctors who promote "remedies" such as "esoteric breast massage" should be investigated.
Regulatory and other issues
Accusations of misconduct against Universal Medicine have drawn attention from the regulatory bodies, Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and the TGA. The NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing investigated claims of breach of Australian charitable fundraising laws by the charity the "College of Universal Medicine" and referred these to the police.
Prior to the TGA investigation and their withdrawal from sale UM’s herbal remedies were erroneously said to "promote fire in the lungs and therefore help to dispel any dampness in the lungs" and were "good for dealing with hardening of the connective tissue especially around the chest and arms and also hardening of the vascular system".
Benhayon's daughter Simone is one of the Trustees of The Sound Foundation in the UK, a second related charitable organisation that Universal Medicine called one of its "two main world headquarters". The Sound Foundation was the subject of a 2013 complaint to the Charity Commission for England and Wales which found extensive irregularities and resulted in the charity being given a mandatory compliance plan. It also attracted attention from a National Health Service Forum who distanced itself from the group.
Universal Medicine is reported to have received a portion of AUD$709,493 federal funds to provide six public lectures and "counselling services to parents" under a Commonwealth grant scheme applied for by the YWCA. The Australian Government refused to fully release documents explaining how the funds were used, saying "YWCA raised objections… including that the information does not accurately reflect YWCA’s activities" and could "have an adverse effect on the YWCA by affecting its relationships with other entities and its reputation".
In 2016, twenty Universal Medicine adherents joined the Australian doctors' reform lobby group, the HPARA, en-masse causing turmoil and a split in the organisation. HPARA chair Dr John Stokes said the UM adherents, who "initially ... all seemed quite impressive and normal," unexpectedly began turning up to meetings and attempted to take over the organisation's social media accounts and board of directors without declaring their UM connections. "Some of them behaved in ways that made me feel quite uncomfortable, where they would come into my personal space," he recalled. Dr Stokes said there were concerns of reprisals and potential legal threats from the UM group, and that he and others expressed concern at HPARA being associated with the cult, but is now confident that no member with links to UM remains in the HPARA.
An investigation by ABC News in April 2018 revealed that The University of Queensland was investigating conflicts of interest of three of its faculty who were "acolytes" advocating for Universal Medicine. Video allegedly shows four researchers, two of whom are doctors, publicly advocating UM practices. Two more of the nine are presenters for the College of Universal Medicine. Professor John Dywer stated that: "[They] have let the university down badly in their fervour for promoting the benefits of Universal Medicine's approach to treatments, which have no basis in science, couldn't possibly be effective, and really represent a pre-scientific approach to how the body works and interacts with God and the universe". After receiving a 12-page letter from a third-party whistleblower The Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) raised "serious concerns" as to the conflict of interest of the authors of the UM related articles it published. The editorial director stated that: "the omission of this conflict of interest, which appears to be highly significant in this case, is a clear violation of our policies" and suggested both articles published in the JMIR should be retracted. JMIR was also "very concerned" when it was revealed that the "original results paper contained large statistical errors inflating the effect sizes" and concluded "the proposed and executed research does not provide any evidence that any Universal Medicine modalities are effective in making people healthier". When the original peer-reviewers of the papers were made aware of the extensive conflicts of interest, they stated they would not have accepted the manuscripts had they been aware of this fact upon submission.
In November 2018 Universal Medicine was compelled to cancel all their event and hire bookings with Ballina Shire Council, including the Girl to Woman Festival, only days prior to the festival being debated in council chambers. UM took this action after 1,000 people had signed a petition to have the Girl to Woman event barred from Lennox Head Cultural Centre, and also to avoid becoming embroiled in a council policy motion that adopted child-protection measures for future events and hiring "where the Council believes that provision of the service would pose a potential for child abuse". Council's amended policies concerning hiring and the tightening of child-protection measures (not mentioning UM or the girl festival) were adopted, but not before UM had publicly criticised council's actions and long-term UM student and advocate Rebecca Asquith (Baldwin) appeared at the council meeting on behalf of the festival urging councillors to oppose the motion. Council representatives said that UM education events were used as recruitment gateways, urged people to stay away from joining the group and said UM was not wanted in the area.
Subsequent to this, NSW Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard, issued a directive for NSW Health to halt all dealings with Universal Medicine after UM-linked individuals and businesses were found to be involved in the annual Positive Adolescent Sexual Health (PASH) conference. The youth health initiative is backed by the NSW Department of Health and aimed at teens aged 15 years and up. Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Wayne Jones said that UM members would be removed from the project and NSW Health would: "immediately review engagement and risks of health service involvement with Universal Medicine and discontinue any further association". Lismore MP Thomas George (Nationals) and ALP candidates for Lismore and Ballina, Janelle Saffin and Asren Pugh, supported the directive by the Health Minister. A few days earlier Ms Saffin and ALP candidate for Page Patrick Deegan had called for an inquiry into UM to ensure that no government resources go toward any organisation regarded as a 'cult', and that government departments and agencies do not endorse, encourage or support the involvement of children and young people in any such organisation. Ms Saffin said: "An inquiry [into UM] would be opportunity to clear the air and to restore faith in our local institutions". "It has taken the courage of whistle-blowers and the determination of journalists to expose the predatory practices of Universal Medicine".
Also in November 2018 the NSW child protection agency, Family and Community Services (FACS), issued a staff directive that "no child be referred to Universal Medicine" after at least one UM aligned child protection worker was found to be incorporating UM teachings and events in the care plans of two children overseen by the department. Documents released showed an acting manager and child protection case worker endorsed the girl's involvement with UM activities including the Girl to Woman Festival and Kids in Connection. Care plans instructed that the girl "needs to be supported to maintain her connection with the teachings of Universal Medicine" and that she have "internet access to access readings and meditations from the universal medicine website". After the rogue care plans became public FACS responded that they had "referred the matter to the Office of the Children's Guardian" and "the information in the (Benhayon v Rockett) Supreme Court judgment is known to FACS and staff are taking appropriate action to ensure it has no impact on children known to FACS". UM practitioners were also reported to have attended Lismore FACS staff meetings to conduct relaxation workshops.
Since the Benhayon v Rockett court ruling in Australia, two Church of England schools have decided to stop using the swimming pool run by Benhayon's daughter Simone, which is located at UM's UK headquarters at 'The Lighthouse' in Somerset.
Following an investigation by the NSW Medical Council in 2017 a Universal Medicine advocate and affiliated doctor, Samuel Tae-Kyu Kim, was reprimanded for referring a patient for esoteric lung massage and chakra puncture: "knowing there was insufficient evidence for their efficacy as treatments for Patient A’s lung condition". The physician, whose clinic is located in the Universal Medicine Clinic in Goonellabah, claimed chakra puncture is an "internationally recognised therapy", however only practised by Universal Medicine. The Council heard evidence from a Senior Specialst and thoracic physician, who stated:
- Universal Medicine "affects an attitude which conventional medicine abandoned in the 19th century and this heightens the need to clearly distinguish for patients the difference between conventional medicine and Universal Medicine. Particularly as it is unclear, given it is a relatively new organisation, how Universal Medicine’s training programs are accredited".
The HCCC alleged Dr Samuel Kim had withheld conventional therapy and the investigation focused on his referrals to his now wife Jasna Jugovic (esoteric lung massage) and three "Universal Medicine practitioners" Neil Ringe (chakra puncture), Serge Benhayon (spiritual healing) and Michael Serafin (non-medically trained pharmacist). The investigating committee found Kim to lack contrition, and at times to be an unreliable witness and his evidence to be contradictory. Following the enquiry, the HCCC found 5 out of 6 allegations against Dr Kim proven, him "guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct" (which he admits to), and concluded by placing permanent restrictions upon his practice.
Dr Kim stood down from the Australian Medical Association Queensland council in May 2018 after ABC News investigated a second case of professional misconduct where he had shared the entire medical and medication records of a patient with Serge Benhayon without the patient's knowledge. The patient had criticised Universal Medicine in the media and Kim claims he obtained the patient’s verbal consent. The NSW Privacy Commissioner disagreed and found Dr Kim had breached Health Privacy Principles, violated the patients privacy and its report said it was "unclear ... why it was necessary for Dr Kim to provide such a summary of what appears to be Mr Martin's entire medical history to Mr Benhayon". Dr Shaun Rudd, the AMA Queensland chairman, said the council had "a robust conflict of interest policy and AMA Queensland has full confidence in Dr Kim's ability to serve as a councillor". Kim stated that he was a 'student' of Universal Medicine and an honorary advisor at Benhayon’s College of Universal Medicine, but had no financial interests in the organisation.
Estate of Judith MacIntyre
In December 2015 Benhayon appeared at the Supreme Court of NSW when his sizeable inheritance from the estate of devotee Judith McIntyre was challenged by her children. The breast cancer victim's estate was estimated to be worth $1.1 million, $600,000 of which was intended for Serge Benhayon. A further gift of $800,000 was given to Benhayon by McIntyre three days after executing her will. Justice James Stevenson declined to alter the distribution of the estate and issued a ruling stating that Ms McIntyre "appears to have carefully considered how she should dispose of her estate". Prior to her death, UM followers had established themselves as Ms McIntyre's nurse, financial planner, the witness to her will, the lawyer who drafted it and its executor. In a later unrelated trial, a NSW Supreme Court jury found it was substantially true to say that Benhayon "preys on", "swindles" and "exploits cancer patients by targeting them to leave him bequests in their wills" and that he exercised "undue influence" on Ms McIntyre to inherit the bulk of her million-dollar estate.
Emails released by Ms McIntyre’s daughter, Sarah, that were written by Benhayon to her mother during the last few months of her life, claimed that her children were "trying to destabilise you, trying to evoke your sympathy", which was "an attack on the funds that will help The Hierarchy's work on Earth". Benhayon also warned her against publicly revealing donations because evil spirits known as "the Dark Lodge" could "cause serious harm" to donors. Shortly before her death, Judith had been persuaded by UM staff to appear in a video blaming herself for her breast cancer, saying: "I had created the disease by all my self neglect, my choices". Daughter Sarah said: "I think my mother was scared for what might happen to her in the afterlife if she didn’t give him (Benhayon) the money".
In June 2018 Justice McCallum, of the Supreme Court of NSW, ordered Benhayon to produce photographs and videos of workshops or sessions that relate to the technique of “Deeper Femaleness” which display the “hands on” healing technique practised by Universal Medicine. He was also ordered to produce a list of donations received, tax returns and other financial statements. This pre-trial ruling came as part of the defamation case in which Benhayon attempted to sue blogger, Esther Rockett, for defamation.
Benhayon v Rockett Defamation Trial
Australian Associated Press, October 15, 2018
In 2015 Benhayon sued a blogger, Esther Rockett, for defamation in the Supreme Court of NSW over social media posts she had made which he said portray him as: delusional, dishonest, a sexual predator and the leader of a "socially harmful cult". Rockett described Benhayon as a “sleazebag guru” and accused him of performing a "sleazy ovarian reading" on her during a treatment session, inappropriately touching her, and engaging in inappropriate conduct towards women. Rockett argued the defences of truth and honest opinion in connection to her social media postings. In court Benhayon claimed these portrayals made him feel "raped", saying; "The attempt to demolish my reputation … you feel raped, you feel you have been stripped". Later he stated that he takes the subject of rape very seriously.
During the 7-week trial, which began in September 2018, Benhayon described himself as a "teacher and practitioner" and also a "business owner". He said his teachings, which are offered as courses, were derived "from the tradition known as the ageless wisdom". He claimed the ageless wisdom had a "very strong lineage that includes the divine messengers", including Hermes, Plato, Pythagorasm, Jesus and Muhammad. He told the court that he "had an understanding", which was stronger than a belief, that in one of his many past lives he was Leonardo da Vinci in addition to Pythagoras. Benhayon told Ms Rockett's barrister, Mr Molomby QC, that he could sense discarnate spirits in the courtroom who were nine feet tall, had no feet, and a "crevasse" where the nose was meant to be. He declined to count them and denied this was because he couldn't really feel their presence, saying "I could [count] if I wanted to but it's not something I practise and it's not something I'm allowed to do". Under cross-examination, Benhayon also stated that people who abused their authority, such as dictators and corrupt politicians, are reincarnated as disabled children. He agreed that during a Sacred Esoteric Healing course - level 1, that he had said that the Roman emperor Nero continues to reincarnate as an autistic child, while other authority abusers reincarnate as children with Down syndrome or other disabilities.
The four-person jury completed answers to 58 pages of questions, primarily in Ms Rockett's favour and against Mr Benhayon. They found it was substantially true to say he led a "socially harmful cult", made "bogus healing claims", "intentionally indecently touched" her and a number of other clients, and as Ms Rockett claimed, that there were "reasonable grounds to believe" Mr Benhayon intentionally sexually preyed upon her and other clients during treatment sessions. It was also found substantially true to say Mr Benhayon "had an "indecent interest in young girls as young as ten whom he causes to stay at his house unaccompanied", "is guilty of inappropriate behaviour with children", and "is dishonest".
Other substantial truth findings by the jury were that he "vilifies people with disabilities", "exploits cancer patients by targeting them to leave him bequests in their wills", "dishonestly promotes fraudulent ideas of karma for self-gain", "denigrates life and glorifies death" and "is a hypocrite because his Esoteric Healing has death as its goal". The Northern Star also reported further substantial truth findings that "Serge Benhayon engages in inappropriate conduct towards women", "instructed students at Universal Medicine training workshops to touch the genitals of victims of sexual assault", "has engaged in bullying to stop Esther Rockett exposing that he is guilty of inappropriate behaviour with children" and "is not a fit person to hold a Working with Children Certificate".
The jury found allegations that Benhayon was "delusional", had "a propensity to touch girls inappropriately", "groped the genitals of various women under the guise of treating them" or "instilled fear and guilt in children to get them to do his bidding" were not substantially true or upheld, instead they were covered by Rockett's qualified privilege. Serge Benhayon has denied all allegations of wrongdoing.
During final hearings, Justice Lonergan criticised Benhayon's Northern Rivers-based lawyers Universal Law, calling solicitor Paula Fletcher's 31-page legal letter sent to the defendant on the day of Rockett's father’s funeral "disgraceful" and "demeaning", adding that the letter contained "personal insults" that were "at best, unprofessional and most discourteous" and "at worst, bullying and harassment". The judge also commented on other legal demands and machinations from Universal Medicine’s legal team regarding a further defamation trial in Queensland on behalf of Caroline Raphael and Ray Karam, calling them: "completely preposterous" and "harassment and unreasonable".
The judge declared that Benhayon's failure to accept an earlier settlement offer by the defendant was unreasonable, and was quoted as saying that the "unreasonableness of the plaintiff’s refusal to accept the offer is illustrated by the apparent appetite for public humiliation of the defendant", and ordered him to pay Rockett's legal costs on an indemnity basis - a higher rate than usually applies. The legal costs are estimated to exceed $1 million. Benhayon's Sydney barristers were not criticised for their handling of the case and concluded by informing the court that Benhayon "accepts the analysis of the jury's verdict".
Other privacy and confidentiality issues
An ex-patient and HCCC complainant, who was vilified on Universal Medicine websites said the organisation accuses "everyone else of cyberbullying while embarking on a systematic, online pack hunt". Numerous students of the organisation unknown to the complainant have openly disputed her medical conditions online. Benhayon has defended the group’s right to do so.
The former Queensland mental health commissioner was scathing of Universal Medicine after the UM "Facts Team" breached privacy and published an ex-UM client's full name, image and schizophrenia diagnosis online after he criticised them. Prior to the outing in 2018 the man had been anonymous. The former commissioner Lesley van Schoubroeck said:
- it is "entirely inappropriate for any organisation, particularly one purporting to be a health organisation, to publicly reveal identifying information of anyone's diagnosis, be it mental health or physical health" and "people with schizophrenia suffer stigma and discrimination in the workplace and in the community".
When interviewed by the ABC the ex-client expressed concern about his future job prospects owing to the privacy breach.
Criticism removed from Google searches
Universal Medicine uses the services of private investigations firm Phoenix Global for online reputation management. Benhayon says he has nothing to hide and claims the print media has printed "scurrilous lies". He and his associates have submitted numerous requests to Google Australia to remove internet links to news articles, websites or blogs that might question or criticize UM. Google Australia reportedly acted on complaints about more than 15 independent websites, as well as reports from seven news organisations. According to a report in The Daily Telegraph, a total of 36 blogs have been removed. Links to television news reports, ABC radio reports and newspaper articles critical of Universal Medicine have also been removed from the internet.
Subsidiary and affiliated companies and organisations
Universal Medicine comprises a number of companies and organisations based in Australia and the UK.
- All Rise Say No to Cyber Abuse PRI/LBG/NSC (UK)
- Ballina Men's Circle
- College of Universal Medicine (registered charity)
- EPA EU/UK (Esoteric Practitioners Association)
- Esoteric Practitioners Association Pty Ltd
- Esoteric Women's Health Pty Ltd
- Evolve College (formerly Australian College of Massage)
- Fabic Pty Ltd
- Featherlight Productions
- Fiery Investments Pty Ltd, Fiery Impulses Pty Ltd
- Gentle Rhythms
- Glorious Music
- Kids in Connection
- Living Medicine
- Real Media Real Change Pty Ltd
- Simple Living Global
- Sound Foundation Charitable Trust (UK registered charity)
- Sound Foundation Community Care (UK registered charity)
- Spherical Living Ltd (UK)
- Teachers are Gold
- The Co-Creative
- The Girl to Woman Festival
- The Girl to Woman Project
- True Movement
- UM Cold Storage & Warehousing
- UniMed Brisbane Pty Ltd
- UniMed Living
- UniMed Perth
- UniMed Publishing
- Universal Healing Symbols
- Universal Law
- Universal Medicine Pty Ltd
- Universal Medicine/The Universal Family (Discretionary) Trust
- Universal Medicine UK Ltd
- Women in Livingness Magazine
- Leser, David (August 25, 2012). "The Da Vinci Mode". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on May 15, 2015. Lay summary (PDF) – as printed.
- Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (January 2, 2019). "College Of Universal Medicine - People".
- Aston, Heath (July 22, 2012). "'Cult' cures on Medicare". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on August 22, 2017.
- Whitbourn, Michaela (September 5, 2018). "'Discarnate spirits' in the courtroom as 'healer' is cross-examined". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on January 10, 2019.
- Whitbourn, Michaela (September 6, 2018). "Spiritual healer accuses barrister of trying to paint him as 'madman'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on January 10, 2019.
- Deutrom, Rhian (February 18, 2019). "Universal Medicine cult founder exposed as 'charlatan'". news.com.au.
- Kaye, Byron (July 23, 2012). "Inside Universal Medicine". Medical Observer. Australia. Archived from the original on July 27, 2012. (Subscription required (help)).
- Turner, Liana (December 10, 2018). "How UM leader twice rejected blogger's settlement offer". Northern Star. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- Robertson, Josh; Walsh, Liam (September 8, 2012). "New age 'medicine' of Serge Benhayon leaves trail of broken families". news.com.au. News Corp. Archived from the original on January 15, 2019.
- Hansen, Jane (March 15, 2015). "How Universal Medicine bullied me". The Daily Telegraph. Sydney. Retrieved March 15, 2015.
- Wright, Jocelyn; Smith, Paul (April 17, 2018). "Senior RACGP figure defends involvement with fringe alternative medicine group". Australian Doctor. australiandoctor.com.au. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- Luntz, Stephen (April 17, 2018). "Scientists Accused Of Promoting 'Cult' After Study Published". IFLScience. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
- Robertson, Josh (April 16, 2018). "'Cult' Universal medicine practices promoted by researchers, UQ launches investigation". ABC News. abc.net.au. Retrieved May 3, 2018. Lay summary – TV video.
- Wilcken, Hugo (April 30, 2018). "The researchers, the university and the bizarre medical cult". MJA InSight 16. AMPCo (Australian Medical Association). Retrieved May 3, 2018.
- JMIR Editorial Office (May 11, 2018). "Expression of Editorial Concern, Correction of Conflict of Interest and Affiliation, and Data Corrections". JMIR Public Health and Surveillance. 4 (2): e53. doi:10.2196/publichealth.9932. ISSN 2369-2960.
- Hoffman, Tessa (May 3, 2018). "Thoracic physician stands down in dispute over 'esoteric' group". The Limbic. thelimbic.com. Retrieved May 4, 2018. (Subscription required (help)).
- O'Rourke, Geir; Smith, Paul (October 24, 2018). "AHPRA lobby group distances itself from Universal Medicine". Australian Doctor. Sydney NSW. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- Dobney, Chris (May 30, 2017). "Universal Medicine affiliated doctor reprimanded". Echonetdaily. Byron Bay NSW. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
- NSW Medical Council (March 20, 2017). "PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS COMMITTEE INQUIRY. Samuel Tae-Kyu Kim". HCCC. Archived from the original on June 23, 2017.
- Robertson, Joshua (May 31, 2017). "Doctor rebuked over 'spiritual healing' group touting 'esoteric breast massage'". The Guardian. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
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- Morton, Rick (November 8, 2018). "Would-be MP doctor Maxine Szramka linked to cult leader". The Australian. Archived from the original on November 8, 2018. (Subscription required (help)).
- Lovejoy, Hans (August 31, 2016). "Council candidates support website attacking 'cyber bully'". Echonetdaily. Byron bay, NSW.
- Turner, Liana (February 22, 2019). "UM hits back at media". Northern Star. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- Doran, Matt; Rice, Stephen (February 17, 2019). "The Cult | International investigation into Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine". Sunday Night. Episode overview. Seven Network TV Australia.
- Payne, Kirstin (March 1, 2019). "Gold Coast cult: Universal Medicine leader message promoted by behavioural clinic Fabic through Tanya Curtis". Gold Coast Bulletin. News Corp. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- Morton, Rick (October 31, 2018). "Teacher in 'harmful cult' gets NDIS funds". The Australian. News Corp. Archived from the original on October 31, 2018. (Subscription required (help)).
- Morton, Rick (November 28, 2018). "'Cult' members told by minister to leave sexual health conference". The Australian. News Corp. Archived from the original on November 28, 2018. (Subscription required (help)).
- Turner, Liana (November 29, 2018). "UM affiliates step down as minister calls for review". Northern Star. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- Doorley, Neil (July 31, 2012). "Healing guru's 'cult resort'". Today Tonight - 7 Network. Archived from the original on June 3, 2013. Lay summary – TV video.
- Robertson, Josh (November 22, 2018). "NSW child protection agency advocated 'harmful cult' activities in girls' care plans". ABC News. abc.net.au. Lay summary – TV video.
- Turner, Liana (March 8, 2019). "$1.5m pledged, 100 jobs promised but robotics firm falters". Northern Star. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- Companies House UK (January 2, 2019). "Simone C Benhayon appointments".
- "Quacks in the system". Private Eye (1359). UK. February 7, 2014. p. 33. Lay summary – as printed.
- "Serge of interest". Private Eye (1360). UK. February 21, 2014. p. 31. Lay summary – as printed.
- Britten, Elise (March 12, 2019). "'Cult B+B' signs appear around Frome". SomersetLive News. England: Reach PLC.
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- Robertson, Josh (September 15, 2012). "'Esoteric healer' Serge Benhayon plans College of Universal Medicine in Goonellabah". The Courier Mail. Brisbane. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
- Hall, Louise; Elliott, Tim (December 28, 2015). "Universal Medicine's Serge Benhayon to inherit bulk of devotee's million-dollar estate". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on May 14, 2018.
- Whitbourn, Michaela (October 15, 2018). "Self-styled healer Serge Benhayon leads 'socially harmful cult': jury". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on October 15, 2018.
- AAP - Scheikowski, Margaret (October 15, 2018). "Defamation loss for NSW spiritual healer". Tenterfield Star. Australian Community Media.
- Sainty, Lane (October 15, 2018). "A Faith Healer Sued A Blogger Over Accusations He Leads A Cult. He Lost". Buzzfeed News.
- Pogrund, Gabriel (March 10, 2019). "The Somerset B&B that's home to Universal Medicine 'burpers'". The Sunday Times. UK. ISSN 0956-1382. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- "Dictionary definition: Esoteric". Collins Online Dictionary. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
- McKeith, Sam (September 26, 2018). "Lawyer tells jury not to believe 'conman from Goonellabah'". Northern Star. News Corp. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- Dobney, Chris (November 15, 2013). "Benhayon link to Lennox conference". Echonetdaily. Byron Bay NSW. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
- Hansen, Jane (June 22, 2014). "Universal Medicine's Serge Benhayon controlled every aspect of our lives". The Daily Telegraph. Sydney. Archived from the original on July 1, 2016.
- Aston, Heath (July 22, 2012). "Da Vinci reincarnated? 'I agree, it sounds absurd'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on June 27, 2018.
- MacKenzie, B. Frazier, J. (July 25, 2012). "The owner of a controversial north coast health centre says claims that it offers alternative cancer treatments are false". ABC North Coast. NSW Australia. Retrieved December 28, 2014.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
- Bailey, Alice A. (1953). Esoteric Healing Vol IV (A Treatise on the Seven Rays). Lucifer Press/Lucis Press.
- Sainty, Lane (September 5, 2018). "This Faith Healer Suing For Defamation Says He's The Reincarnation Of Leonardo Da Vinci". Buzzfeed News.
- "Mother 'lost' to burping bad spirits cult". BBC News. UK. March 10, 2019.
- . (July 30, 2012). "Concerns raised over 'prana' treatment". Medical Observer. Australia. Archived from the original on August 1, 2012. (Subscription required (help)).
- Turner, Liana (November 1, 2018). "Disabled jibe 'appalling': Former mayor slams UM 'healer'". Northern Star. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- Robertson, Josh (November 5, 2018). "'We've been vindicated': Relief as jury finds 'socially dangerous cult' preyed on cancer victim". ABC News. abc.net.au. Lay summary – TV video.
- "WARNING: Explicit content - Universal Medicine sex seminar". ABC News Australia. April 16, 2018.
- Turnbull, S. MacKenzie, B. (July 23, 2012). "Controversial health provider under investigation". ABC North Coast. NSW Australia. Retrieved December 20, 2014.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
- Encalada, Javier (July 26, 2012). "Healer denies cult claims". Lismore Echo. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
- Phoenix Global via Chilling Effects (January 14, 2013). "Infringement Notification via Websearch Complaint". Chilling Effects. Archived from the original on November 1, 2014.
- The Editor (December 31, 2014). "Web pages, including ours, deemed "critical" of Universal Medicine removed from Google Search results". Doubtful News. USA. Archived from the original on December 10, 2017.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
- "Serge Activity". Private Eye (1482). UK. November 2, 2018. p. 17. Lay summary – as printed.
- Robertson, Josh (March 15, 2019). "Qld university stands by health studies done by devotees of 'dangerous cult'". ABC News. abc.net.au.
- Fredenburgh, Cat (June 21, 2018). "Judge orders spiritual guru to produce pics of 'hands on' healing". Lawyerly. Lawyerly Media. Retrieved June 23, 2018. (Subscription required (help)).
- Wiggins, Kaye (September 12, 2011). "Way of the Livingness fails to obtain charitable status". Third Sector. UK. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
- Gov.UK (August 24, 2011). "The Way of the Livingness, The Religion of the Soul Trust: Charity Commission decision". Charity Commission of England & Wales. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
- 1955-, Lachman, Gary, (2012). Madame Blavatsky : the mother of modern spirituality. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin. ISBN 9781585428632. OCLC 776538868.
- "Universal Medicine leader loses defamation case". Byron Shire Echo (print edition) (33 #19). Byron Bay NSW. October 17, 2017. p. 3. Lay summary – as printed.
- Munro, Jacqueline (January 1, 2019). "The stories that made news in 2018". Northern Star. NSW. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- Britten, Elise (March 13, 2019). "Hotel owner resigns from chamber after TV show unearths 'cult' links". SomersetLive News. England: Reach PLC.
- Hansen, Jane (October 21, 2018). "Court rules Universal Medicine founder is running a 'harmful cult'". The Sunday Telegraph. News Corp. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – republished.
- . (July 16, 2012). "Investigation urged into 'cult' medical group". Medical Observer. Australia. Archived from the original on July 24, 2012. (Subscription required (help)).
- Robertson, Josh (November 10, 2018). "Universal Medicine follower's daughter releases private emails between mother and 'cult' leader". ABC News. abc.net.au. Lay summary – TV video.
- Turner, Liana (October 19, 2018). "REVEALED: What the jury said about 'socially harmful cult'". Northern Star. News Corp. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- Supreme Court of New South Wales (December 6, 2018). "Benhayon v Rockett (No 8)  NSWSC 169". www.caselaw.nsw.gov.au. NSW Caselaw. Lay summary – Summary of truth findings.
- McKeith, Sam (September 24, 2018). "Sister says relationship 'broken' after Universal Medicine". Northern Star. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- Hansen, Jane (August 31, 2014). "Doctor sent woman for two years of new age healing in a galaxy far, far away for a cough - costing her $35,000". The Daily Telegraph. Sydney. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
- Kaye, Byron (November 27, 2012). "Government blocks YWCA documents". Medical Observer. Australia. Archived from the original on December 10, 2012. (Subscription required (help)).
- Turner, Liana (March 4, 2019). "Court evidence may be enough for Universal Medicine action". Northern Star. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- HCCC (May 9, 2017). "Dr Samuel Tae-Kyu Kim – Unsatisfactory professional conduct". HCCC. Archived from the original on July 28, 2017.
- Dwyer, John (May 2013). "When "Healing Hands" Start Grasping". Australasian Science. 34 (4): 44. Retrieved December 22, 2014. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary (PDF) – as printed.
- Hearing Transcript 03/09/2014, Committee on the Health Care Complaints Commission (September 3, 2014). "Transcript 2 - Inquiry into the promotion of false and misleading health-related information and practices" (PDF). Parliament of NSW.
- Scholefield, Anthony (June 1, 2017). "Specialist reprimanded for 'esoteric' referrals". Australian Doctor. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- Smith, Paul (November 9, 2018). "Doctor linked with alleged cult 'entitled to her private life and private views'". Australian Doctor. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- McClymont, Kate (June 24, 2018). "Spiritual healer Serge Benhayon gave client 'ovarian reading'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on June 25, 2018.
- Hansen, Jane (June 22, 2014). "Universal Medicine client says her sessions felt 'sleazy' and she was being 'groomed'". The Daily Telegraph. Sydney. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
- Local News (May 6, 2016). "Universal Medicine defamation hearing today". Echonetdaily. Byron Bay NSW. Retrieved October 18, 2017.
- Aston, Heath (July 23, 2012). "New age group's herbal supplements under investigation". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on July 1, 2018.
- Stevens, Rodney (July 24, 2012). "Breast 'Therapy' Slammed". Northern Star. Archived from the original on July 25, 2012. Retrieved July 17, 2018. Lay summary – Original text.
- . (September 20, 2012). "Universal Medicine may have to answer to AHPRA". Medical Observer. Australia. Archived from the original on July 23, 2013. (Subscription required (help)).
- Hansen, Jane (June 22, 2014). "New-age esoteric breast and ovary massage healer under investigation over alleged charity law violations". The Daily Telegraph. Sydney. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
- Esoteric Women's Health Pty Ltd (April 20, 2012). "Home Page". Original Esoteric Breast Massage Website. Archived from the original on April 20, 2012.
- Newton, Kate (September 20, 2012). "'Cult' health group faces AHPRA inquiry". Australian Doctor. Sydney. Retrieved December 20, 2014. (Subscription required (help)).
- Newton, Kate (July 24, 2012). "Herbal products sold by 'cult' investigated". Australian Doctor. Sydney. Retrieved January 3, 2015. (Subscription required (help)).
- "Director from College of Universal Medicine defends charity status". ABC News Online. Australia. June 27, 2014. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
- . (July 23, 2012). "TGA's urgent Universal inquiry". Medical Observer. Australia. Archived from the original on August 1, 2013. (Subscription required (help)).
- Stothart, Chloe (November 25, 2013). "Charity Commission hands action plan to health charity". Third Sector. UK. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
- "Good news corner". Private Eye (1361). UK. March 7, 2014. p. 32. Lay summary – as printed.
- Turner, Liana (November 21, 2018). "'Lynch mob mentality' forced cancellation of UM-linked event". Northern Star. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- Shand, Aslan (November 30, 2018). "Universal Medicine cancels all event bookings". Echonetdaily. Byron bay.
- Turner, Liana (November 14, 2018). "UM-linked events could be banned by council". Northern Star. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- "Minutes of the Ordinary Meeting of Ballina Shire Council". ballina.nsw.gov.au. November 22, 2018.
- Turner, Liana (November 22, 2018). "Council adopts child protection measures for events". Northern Star. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- Sariovski, Mitchell (February 20, 2019). "Council bans cult". North Coast News. 5:13 minutes in. PRIME7 TV Northern NSW.
- Turner, Liana (November 28, 2018). "UM dealings halted by minister's directive". The Northern Star. (Subscription required (help)).
- Burke, Jasmine (November 26, 2018). "Inquiry into Universal Medicine backed by Labor candidates". Northern Star. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- Turner, Liana (November 22, 2018). "Complaints about UM made to FACS as early as 2013". Northern Star. News Corp. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- Adams, Cathy (May 31, 2017). "Doctor found guilty over referrals". Northern Star. Lismore NSW: News Corp. Retrieved June 1, 2017.
- Robertson, Josh (May 2, 2018). "'Doctor who gave patient medical history to Universal Medicine 'cult' stands down from AMA". ABC News. abc.net.au. Archived from the original on May 3, 2018. Lay summary – TV video.
- Dale, Amy (December 29, 2015). "Cancer victim's children lose appeal to overturn will which bequeathed majority of $1.1m estate to healer". The Daily Telegraph. News Corp.
- Whitbourn, Michaela (September 4, 2018). "Spiritual healer Serge Benhayon 'not a cult leader': court". The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Archived from the original on January 13, 2019.
- Cornwall, Deborah (September 5, 2018). "Healer felt 'raped' when blog post described him as 'sleazebag guru', court hears". The Australian. News Corp. Archived from the original on September 5, 2018. (Subscription required (help)).
- AAP - Scheikowski, Margaret (September 6, 2018). "Reincarnation evidence given by NSW healer". Newcastle Herald. Australian Community Media.
- Thompson, Angus; Whitbourn, Michaela (December 6, 2018). "'Cult leader' used defamation case to inflict pain on blogger: court". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on December 6, 2018.
- Smith, Paul; Wright, Jocelyn (October 16, 2018). "Jury declares Universal Medicine leader an exploitative charlatan". Australian Doctor. (Subscription required (help)).
- Sainty, Lane (December 7, 2018). "A "Cult Leader" Tried To Inflict "Pain" On A Blogger With Expensive Defamation Cases, Court Hears". Buzzfeed News.
- Turner, Liana (March 1, 2019). "Law firm's 'demeaning' behaviour could spark action". Northern Star. News Corp. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- Whitbourn, Michaela (February 28, 2019). "'Cult leader' ordered to pay blogger's legal costs". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on February 28, 2019.
- Turner, Liana (December 6, 2018). "UM leader should not be punished by costs: Barrister". Northern Star. (Subscription required (help)).
- AAP - McPhee, Sarah (February 28, 2019). "Solicitors for 'cult leader' may be probed". 9 News.
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- McKeith, Sam (September 14, 2018). "Universal Medicine 'harvested' client info, court told". Northern Star. North Coast NSW: News Corp. (Subscription required (help)). Lay summary – as printed.
- AAP - Scheikowski, Margaret (September 17, 2018). "Sued woman tells jury of healing 'scam'". The North West Star. Australian Community Media.