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It took CCHR ten years of persistent investigation and bulldog-like determination before the New South Wales government appointed a Royal Commission in 1988 to look into deep sleep therapy in Chelmsford and throughout the state. Finally, after the two-year inquiry was completed and the full litany of horrors was uncovered – which included the possibility of 183 patient deaths, either at Chelmsford or within a year of discharge – a thorough shake-up of mental health care in New South Wales was recommended, along with a mental health patient bill of rights.

And what of psychiatry’s stance after CCHR first uncovered what was happening at Chelmsford? It was ignored for as long as possible. However, this comment by a leading international figure provides an apt summation of psychiatric concerns. On January 6, 1981, Sir Martin Roth, Professor of Psychiatry at Cambridge University, wrote to another psychiatrist, who was calling for an inquiry, that the “Scientologists and other organizations will have obtained ammunition for years or decades to come. There is, therefore, a pressing need for maintaining strict confidentiality at this stage until one can set these barbarities in the context of contemporary practice in psychiatry in a carefully prepared statement that comes from colleges and other bodies concerned.”

Scientology’s relentless work to uncover the truth was not without compensation. Deep sleep therapy was banned. Chelmsford was closed. And, of even more significance, many of the surviving victims who received electroshock therapy took their cases to the Victim’s Compensation Tribunal. The Tribunal found that the deep sleep patients receiving electroshock had indeed suffered from “an act of violence,” and in 1991 a victim of the now-outlawed deep sleep treatment was awarded the maximum $50,000.

Two of the psychiatrists who worked at Chelmsford finally faced criminal charges in 1992. And CCHR continued its work, exposing psychiatric abuses at Townsville Hospital in the northern state of Queensland. In practices frighteningly similar to Bailey’s deep sleep treatments, sixty-five deaths were attributed to “unlawful and negligent treatment” after CCHR triggered a government investigation.

Finally, what of Bailey? In September 1985, having already confronted serious criminal charges in one legal case and due to appear in court the next day to answer in a civil damages suit, Harry Bailey avoided being brought to justice by ending his own life with an overdose of barbiturates. The wretched suicide note he left behind was tantamount to a confession of guilt. His enemies, he wrote, “have finally won.”


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