I have written to the editor (not that I expect them to take any notice, but we have to try). The text of my letter follows:
Dear GQ Australia,
I read with interest Brendan Shanahan's article on Hugh Jackman, which I was directed to on your website recently (I live in the UK). Mr Jackman is an example to everyone in his widely publicised humanitarian work, particularly as an ambassador for World Vision, an excellent charity which I also support financially.
However, I must take issue with your reporter's apparent dismissal of the very real criticisms that have been levied on the School of Practical Philosophy (SoPP), the "spiritual organisation" of which Hugh Jackman is an outspoken advocate. As your reporter rightly states, the School is an offshoot of a parent school, the School of Economic Science (SES) in the UK. It is quite possible that, when your reporter did a Google search for the SoPP, he came across what he considered to be minor gripes from ex-members. However, I believe that if he had actually done a Google search for the SES, he might well have been given more cause for alarm.
I would like to draw his and your attention to the following messageboard:
This messageboard was set up some years ago, after an anti-Scientology website started receiving a large volume of posts from people who had been to the independent girl's and boy's schools run by the SES (started as St Vedast, but later becoming St James) based in Kensington in London (but now spread around the city in various locations). These children's schools were originally set up in the 1970s by members of the SES to allow their children to be educated according to the practical philosophy ideals of the SES itself, but have gradually expanded to take on pupils from any background.
I would urge yourself, Mr. Shanahan, and the readers of this letter (should you choose to publish it in the magazine) to go to this forum and read, in particular, the thread entitled: "Experiences at St Vedast (now St James) and the SES". What you read should make your toes curl.
I myself was a pupil at the girl's school from 1979 to 1989 (ages 4 to 14), and my younger sister and brother were also pupils. We all experienced an immense amount of physical and emotional abuse. I was dragged by my hair down flights of stairs, shut in dark rooms and forced to confess to "crimes" I had not committed, and my very real physical disabilities (I have cerebral palsy) were ridiculed as being "all in my mind" - because of this I was forced to take part in sports which I had no hope of ever mastering, and taken for corrective walks with one of the teachers who forced me to walk with my naturally twisted left leg turned straight, which caused me a great deal of pain. These are just two or three of the many abuses I suffered in my ten years there, and are mild in comparison to what some other pupils suffered, as you will see if you read the thread I have directed you to.
As far as the SES itself is concerned, my parents chose to leave the cult (and we are more than happy to refer to it as such) in the late 80s, and promptly lost all their friends and support network. My mother, who was brought up in the SES by her parents (my widowed grandmother remains a member now) has struggled all her life to counteract the effects on her self-confidence and the way she learned to view the world, and we will all suffer emotionally for the rest of our lives. I really don't think we could ever be described as merely "disgruntled".
I have no doubt that Mr Jackman gets a great deal out of being a member of the SoPP, as my grandmother still does out of her membership of the SES, and as I say, I don't wish to disparage the good works he is so obviously doing in his life. However, I feel it is important for you and your readers to know that the SES and the SoPP are not as harmless as they seem, and that when they decide to turn against you, they can do incredible and lasting damage.
I would be very grateful if you would print this letter in your magazine (even if it needs to be edited for length), in the interests of making people aware that there are two sides to this outwardly respectable School.