Thursday, November 20, 2008 After weeks of speculation in the media, details emerged confirming the reason behind the removal of the book, The Complex: An Insider Exposes the Covert World of the Church of Scientology, from the Amazon UK catalogue. The online retailer explained: "Unfortunately, we have had to withdraw The Complex by John Duignan in the UK because we received a specific allegation that a passage in the book is defamatory regarding an individual named in the book. In circumstances such as these, UK law gives us no choice but to remove the title from our catalogue."
Earlier, customers who ordered a copy of The Complex were informed by Amazon UK that the book was no longer available. It's available on Amazon's US website, although being listed as "out of stock". Amazon US said: "we're awaiting arrival of the inventory into our fulfillment networks. As soon as we get the books in our fulfillment centers, we'll start shipping them out to customers."
Amazon has been in good terms with the Church of Scientology. Just days before the Complex was pulled, Tom Cruise, Scientology's top celebrity, made a guest appearance at the retailer's all-hands meeting, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the movie store.
The allegations has been "emphatically denied" by Merlin, the Irish-based publisher of The Complex. Aoife Barrett, editorial director, said the claim was "vexatious". Merlin's Chenile Keogh responded earlier: "We are standing by the book and the author. The book is on sale in Ireland and there is no problem with us publishing in Ireland...". The title is still available at bookshops in Ireland. Merlin said it "would like to sell international rights to The Complex particularly in the US and the UK and are in negotiations with publishers in both countries".
After the title was pulled from Amazon UK, The Complex was still available from UK booksellers WH Smith and Waterstones. Sources said the bookstores, including Borders, has received a legal letter warning them not to sell the book as it damages the reputation of a Scientologist.
The legal move is hardly surprising to the industry as the Church of Scientology is well known for being litigious. Another famous Scientology exposé, Andrew Morton's unauthorized biography of Tom Cruise, had similar fate. The biography was published in the US, but not in the UK, Australia, or New Zealand, because of stricter libel laws.
The US listing describes The Complex as:
- "Duignan describes how two years ago he staged a dramatic escape from the elite paramilitary group at the core of the Church, the Sea Organisation, and how he narrowly evaded pursuit by Scientologists from the Office of Special Affairs. He looks back on the 22 years he served in the Church's secret army and describes the hours of sleep deprivation, brain-washing and intense auditing or religious counselling he endured, as he was moulded into a soldier of Scientology.
- He talks about the money-making-machine at the heart of the Church, the Scientology goal to Clear the Planet and Get Ethics In, the training programmes, the Rehabilitation Project Force and the punishments meted out to anyone who transgresses, including children. We follow his journey through the Church and the painful investigation that leads to his eventual realisation that there is something very wrong at Scientology's core."
The Sun quoted excerpts from the book: “Members who try to leave Scientology are subjected to the Rehabilitation Project Force. This uses military tactics and are feared... A friend, Alice, was put through rehabilitation. At 19 she was subjected to daily interrogations for six months. One afternoon Alice swallowed a tin of paint thinner and jumped from a 15ft roof... The whole thing was hushed up. Alice is now crippled.”
- "'Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography' released, $100 million lawsuit in planning stages". Wikinews, date
- Victoria Gallagher "Merlin denies Scientology charge". Bookseller.com, 2008-11-19
- "The Insider: Tom Cruise joins the party at Amazon". Seattlepi.com, 2008-11-16
- "Church of Scientology Prevents Sale of Critic's Book in the UK". Alaska Report, 2008-11-16
- "La scientologie expulsée des ventes d'Amazon pour raisons légales". Actualitté, 2008-11-12
- Cade Metz "Amazon UK pulls Scientology exposé for 'legal reasons' • The Register". The Register, 2008-11-11
- "Top Scientologist escapee gives insight into shady “celebrity religion”". Thaindian News, 2008-11-04
- "Pro Cruisovo náboženství bych i zabíjel!". Blesk.cz, 2008-11-03
- David Lowe "Top Scientologist: I'd have killed for Tom Cruise cult". The Sun, 2008-11-03
- John Duignan, Nicola Tallant "The Complex: An Insider Exposes the Covert World of the Church of Scientology". Merlin Publishing, 2008-10-07