Church case told of phone calls to clients

Irish Times, Feb. 1, 2003

A company director and brother-in-law of a woman who is suing the Church of Scientology for damages told the High Court yesterday he was informed that between 25 and 40 phone calls were made by a person with an American accent to his clients and to private individuals.

Mr Paul O’Kelly, Edenderry, Co Offaly, was continuing his evidence in the action by his sister-in-law, Ms Mary Johnston (40), against the Church of Scientology in Dublin and three of its members for alleged conspiracy, misrepresentation and breach of her constitutional rights.

Before Mr O’Kelly resumed his evidence, another witness, Mr Michael Cleary, a director of Rotofab, a plastic moulding company, said Mr O’Kelly’s company, O’Kelly Sutton, marketing consultants, did some work for Rotofab when the latter began business. Later, Mr O’Kelly became a shareholder and member of Rotofab.

In 2002 , he received a phone call from a Tom Bishop, who had an American accent and who said he was doing a due diligence report on O’Kelly Sutton for an American company. He had told Mr Bishop that they were very happy with the work O’Kelly Sutton had done for Rotofab.

The caller asked what Mr Cleary knew about Mr O’Kelly’s other interests. Some weeks later he received a faxed document from Tom Bishop which outlined a series of situations in relation to O’Kelly Sutton but mainly in relation to Mr O’Kelly. The document was headed TR World Corporate Services, Zurich. He knew nothing about this company. He thought the phone call he had received had been from America.

Mr Sen Ryan SC, for Ms Johnston, said the document claimed to be conducting a due diligence and background for the benefit of a large corporation and named O’Kelly Sutton, Paul O’Kelly and Patrick Sutton.

Mr Cleary said the document claimed Mr O’Kelly had been dropped from a FS panel due to his connection with Rotofab as there had been a conflict of interest. Rotofab had had a little involvement with FS but before Mr O’Kelly became a shareholder.

When he read the document, he was surprised and a little worried about some of the stuff in it, Mr Cleary said. His business partner was quite upset. Having spoken to Mr O’Kelly, Mr Cleary said he had told his business partner there was nothing to worry about.

Cross-examined by Mr John Trainor SC, for the church, Mr Cleary agreed that when Mr O’Kelly was acting as a consultant to Rotofab, he was on a FS panel and they had hoped Rotofab could get grant aided.

He agreed that O’Kelly Sutton was a large firm of marketing consultants with a number of prestigious clients.

Mr O’Kelly, in his evidence, said Mr Cleary had contacted him about the faxed document and had been distressed and concerned. He had been delighted to be told about the phone call received by Mr Cleary as it was only one of between 30 and 40 calls received by the O’Kelly Sutton company’s clients.

About 25 to 30 clients and private individuals had told him they had received inquiries – all with American accents – and all the calls gave different “purposes”.

Cross-examined by Mr Trainor, Mr O’Kelly said the first he heard about Ms Johnston’s involvement in scientology was when she told him “it was great”.

Mr O’Kelly said he formed the view that scientology was “hogwash”. He had visited the church’s Dublin mission. Asked what he was doing there, Mr O’Kelly said, because of his concern, he had gone in and did the personality test to which he gave random answers.

The hearing, before Mr Justice Peart, continues on Tuesday.

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