How English Heritage snubbed the Scientologist founder L Ron Hubbard (UK)





The government agency, which runs the scheme, rejected the application by supporters of the founder of Scientology after its blue plaques panel decided that it was unconvinced about Mr Hubbard's "reputation".

The decision has frustrated the Hubbard Foundation, which had nominated him. In an unusual move, a foundation representative went to visit English Heritage officials, following the verdict, to find out more about why he had been rejected and how his case could be helped.

Under the rules of the scheme, no candidate can be reconsidered within 10 years of being rejected, but Mr Hubbard's backers say they do not consider the matter "closed" and are now proposing further talks in a bid to revive their cause.

The organisation, which is considered a cult by some, is based on the premise that the human race is descended from Thetans, an exiled race from another planet.

It was founded by Mr Hubbard, an American science fiction writer, in the 1950s, and now has millions of followers including the Hollywood actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta. From 1957 until 1959, Mr Hubbard based himself at Fitzroy House, in London's West End, and wrote many of his works there. It was a Scientology "church" until 1968, when it was sold. The organisation then bought it back around six years ago and the four-storey building, at 37 Fitzroy Street, is now open as a museum in Mr Hubbard's memory.

According to minutes of a meeting in June last year, obtained using Freedom of Information legislation, the blue plaques panel decided that "more time was needed to make an objective assessment of Hubbard's reputation". Panel members present at the meeting included Professor Andrew Motion, the former Poet Laureate.

The panel "also noted that [Hubbard] had no settled residence in London". However, other foreign personalities who only spent short periods of their life in the capital have been awarded plaques in their honour.

Blue plaques are considered a high accolade and have been erected outside the London homes of some of the world's greatest minds. Eligibility guidelines state that nominated figures must have been dead for 20 years or have passed the centenary of their birth, and must have made an "important positive contribution to human welfare or happiness". Mr Hubbard died in 1986...

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