Scientology snubs coroner over suicide soldier 'audit file'
October 23, 2009
THE Church of Scientology refused to provide records demanded by a coroner investigating the death of a soldier who committed suicide two days after finishing one of the church's intensive courses.
The Australian reports that the American headquarters of the church instructed its Australian branch to send the soldier's "audit file" to the US - outside the coroner's jurisdiction - before warrants were issued.
Edward Alexander McBride was found electrocuted and hanged at an Energex substation at Everton Park, in Brisbane, on February 7, 2007.
The soldier, who was based at Brisbane's Enoggera Barracks, was on leave from the army at the time and had been doing Scientology courses almost full-time for about a month.
McBride had paid the church $25,000 for the courses and finished the last one two days before he died.
In interim inquest findings handed down last week, coroner John Lock said that was when "something unusual happened".
In the days leading up to McBride's death, church members tried to contact him repeatedly on his mobile phone, and sent text and voice messages mentioning an "audit" and "LRH" - a reference to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.
Mr Lock said requests by police and him for the Church of Scientology to see McBride's audit file were unsuccessful.
He said the Australian Scientology authorities appeared to have been obeying orders issued by the church's US headquarters.
"A clear inference can be made that this course of action was taken as a deliberate decision (by the US church) not to produce the auditing file," he said.
Australian Church of Scientology spokeswoman Vicki Dunstan said the audit file was returned to the "mother church" in the US before the Australian church had received a request from the coroner.
She said the file did not shed any light on McBride's state of mind or cause of death.
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