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The People of “Secret Lives”: Merchants of CHAOS
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[Secret Lies]


Even Channel 4 refers to “Secret Lives” as a series of “revisionist” biographies. For their recent episode, they hired a proven historical revisionist.

e are suspicious of proposals which seem to do nothing more than ‘put the knife in,’” says Channel 4 TV.

     This admonition appears in Channel 4’s published directives for producers of the “Secret Lives” series—described as “revisionist biographies” of “twentieth century icons.”

     In their approach to the life of L. Ron Hubbard, the producers only got one thing right: their subject is undoubtedly a major figure of the twentieth century.

     If they had gone out of their way to advertise for a production team incapable of anything but “putting the knife in” they could not have done better than Simon Berthon and Jill Robinson. The selected duo had produced two prior programmes about L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology. The first employed a “researcher” who was escorted from a Church of Scientology by police after being caught on video stealing Church papers. The second cost Carlton TV £10,000 in a defamation settlement. [See “Merchants of Chaos.”]

Particularly Unsavoury

     Having sidestepped Channel 4’s guidelines, the team’s second step was to hire a “consultant” whose bias, dishonesty and prejudice outdistanced even their own: Nottingham resident Jon Atack.

     Atack has been involved in efforts to extort money from the Church of Scientology for more than a decade. In one planned scam, he told a friend he hoped to force the Church of Scientology to pay them “a couple of million pounds” to avoid a threat they had concocted.

     Atack also has the dubious distinction of having lost two High Court actions after telling falsehoods under oath. His behaviour was described by High Court Master Tennant as “particularly unsavoury”, and by M. Bethel QC (sitting as a Deputy Judge of the High Court) as “characteristic of a devious litigant.”

     He is subject to High Court-imposed permanent injunction against one of his books, and gave undertakings to the Court not to repeat defamatory statements in another. He petitioned for his own bankruptcy to avoid paying more than £ 150,000 in damages and court costs awarded to the Church of Scientology and individual Scientologists. And in October 1997, the Supreme Court of Italy stated his reliability was suspect.

     With such a hostile and biased record, and since he was also a “consultant” to the previous Berthon/Robinson “knife jobs,” it is no surprise that Atack would again be a willing co-conspirator. But the programme producers made it even more appealing for him. They paid him several thousand pounds.

     However, to make the payoff, Berthon and Robinson had a couple of legal and financial hurdles to overcome. Atack has obligations under bankruptcy to declare his income. He also has an obligation to provide for his two children, who live with his estranged wife. He currently contributes £ 8.20 per week to their welfare. Curiously, the payment by Berthon and Robinson for Atack's “services” was made through an Irish company owned by Atack's brother, Centurion Management Ltd.

     Atack’s involvement as a paid consultant for Channel 4’s “Secret Lives” fits only one of the criteria outlined in the producers’ guidelines: “revisionist.”

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