Scientology documentary Going Clear gets go-ahead to air on Sky in UK

Controversial film was delayed by months after its US premiere on HBO following concerns over potential libel actions

Sky is to air controversial Scientology film Going Clear in September, months after shelving it over concerns that the church might have grounds for libel action.

The Alex Gibney-directed film, which alleges abusive practices at the religion’s US headquarters, debuted on HBO in the US in April attracting more than 5.5 million viewers. It has since attracted seven Emmy nominations.

Sky Atlantic had originally intended to air the TV documentary in close step with the American release, but was forced to delay broadcast due to concerns over libel laws in Northern Ireland, which is not subject to the Defamation Act 2013.

“Both Sky, and the producers of the film, have sought legal advice at every stage of the process and are confident that the film complies with legal requirements in the territories in which we are screening the film,” said a spokesman for Sky.

Sky is to air the film, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, on 21 September on Sky Atlantic at 9pm.

It will be available to Sky’s 12 million pay-TV customers in the UK, including Northern Ireland, as well as the Republic of Ireland.

The film is based on the book by Lawrence Wright, which UK publishers abandoned attempting to publish two years ago due to the same potential libel issues.

From its Los Angeles HQ, the church has denounced the film as a “one-sided, bigoted propaganda built on falsehoods” and informed by former members – whom it calls “misfits”.

In April, the church said in a statement: “The Church of Scientology will be entitled to seek the protection of both UK and Irish libel laws in the event that any false or defamatory content in this film is broadcast within these jurisdictions.”

Celia Taylor, Sky’s head of non-scripted commissioning, said: “Going Clear is a brilliantly compelling film that unflinchingly probes the secretive world of Scientology through powerful testimony and a beautifully crafted narrative. I am extremely proud of it.”


Mark Sweney

The GuardianTramp

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