Man sues Scientologist after naked ‘Prince Harry’

A man, who is the centre of a defamation action against a member of the Church of Scientology, told the Circuit Civil Court he allowed a picture to be taken with his genitals covered only with a Guy Fawkes mask, “to support Prince Harry”.
Man sues Scientologist after naked ‘Prince Harry’

Mayo man Pete Griffiths, who is suing Zabrina Collins for €50,000 for defamation, said he did not expect the picture to be shared around the world by Scientologists.

He said the picture was taken by his boyfriend to support Harry following a nude photo scandal by the third in line to the British throne in a Las Vegas Hotel in August 2012.

Harry’s nude photo scandal sparked an internet craze which involved some of his former soldier pals “supporting him” in pictures in which they hid their decency behind helmets.

Mr Griffiths told barrister Frank Beatty, counsel for Ms Collins, the picture of him was taken in his apartment. In it he is seen saluting with his right hand and holding the mask over his genitals with his left hand.

Judge James O’Donohoe heard the picture was one of several emailed by Ms Collins to the principal of St David’s CBS, Artane, Dublin, on May 3, 2013, after she had discovered a YouTube recording of a talk on “cults” by Mr Griffiths to a class of teenage boys at the school.

Seamus Ó Tuathail SC, counsel for Mr Griffiths, told Judge O’Donohoe that Ms Collins, a director of a chiropractic clinic, was being sued for up to €50,000 punitive damages for defamation in the letter published to the principal and allegedly the vice principal, school secretary, and other teachers.

He said that in turn Ms Collins and Michael O’Donnell, a marketing consultant of Cherrywood Lawn, Clondalkin, Dublin, members of the Church, were suing Mr Griffiths and John McGhee, an embalmer — both of 3 Cual Gara, Teeling St, Ballina — for assault, battery, trespass and nuisance.

In the defamation proceedings Ms Collins’s address is stated as The Boulevard, Mount Eustace, Tyrelstown, Dublin 15. In the alleged assault proceedings her address was given as Rathmore Village, Tyrelstown.

The judge ruled he would hear the alleged defamation case first.

The court heard a teacher from St David’s CBS asked Mr Griffiths to address pupils on the question of cults. Mr Griffiths agreed with Mr Beatty, in cross-examination, that his talk centred mainly on Scientology.

In her letter to the school principal Ms Collins alleged Mr Griffith’s lecture had centred on the Scientology religion, which counts Tom Cruise and John Travolta as members, in an extremely abusive, insulting and undignified way and accused him of “openly and viciously” slandering scientologists.

The court heard she accused Mr Griffiths of being “an avid hate campaigner” against Scientologists and “hate mongering” against the Church.

She also told the principal that Mr Griffiths was a leading figure in the “Anonymous group in Ireland whose trade mark was the Guy Fawkes mask” and which, she alleged, had been responsible for hacking websites including that of the gardaí.

Mr Griffiths denied Ms Collins’ allegations and claimed she implied he was involved in incitement to hatred and had, by innuendo throughout her letter, held him out to be a criminal, a paedophile, a bigot, and a hypocrite.

He claimed her statements lowered his reputation in the minds of right-thinking people while holding him up to hatred, ridicule, and contempt.

In evidence he denied he hated Scientologists or that his talk was intended to incite hatred against Church members.

He informed the children there were “dangers out there” and warned them not to get involved and that to do so might destroy their lives. As a former member he was warning people about the dangers associated with Scientology.

The trial continues today.

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