Stand-off with Scientologists - British journalist in confrontation after being stalked

Krystal Johnson

British journalist Louis Theroux says he was stalked and filmed covertly by members of the Scientologist church while filming a documentary about the controversial group.

Theroux said it has been a lifelong dream to film about the organisation and his film named, My Scientology Movie, is set to screen at New York’s Tribeca film festival next week.

The journalist claims he was stalked, tailed by private investigators and received “a blizzard of legal letters” from lawyers before releasing a small-teaser clip that exposed a tense twilight stand-off.

Louis Theroux is a TV personality known for the Weird Weekends series and will be speaking in Australia in September. Photo: Getty Images

The incident occurred outside a church compound where senior official Catherine Fraser was captured angrily telling Theroux 'the road is closed' - despite Theroux having a permit.

A Scientologist then shoves a camera in Theroux's face.

"Whoa, you're assaulting me," Theroux says as he is pushed by Fraser.

"See that thing, it says 'road closed', look," Fraser says while Theroux asks her to look at his permit, declaring they are on a public road.

"Are you so stupid that you can not see the sign that says 'road closed'?" Fraser asks.

"Is there anything about this that you don't understand?"

Fraser goes on to question Theroux's intelligence, asking him if he knows what a road is before demanding him to stop filming.

Louis Theroux says he was stalked by members of the Scientologist church while filming a documentary about the group. Photo: Entertainment Weekly

Theroux ends up pleading with her to stay and talk while she climbs back into her car.

The British personality told Entertainment Weekly of the difficulty he had trying to get a scoop inside of the notoriously secretive group.

“I came to believe I was being tailed by private investigators," Theroux said.

"Someone in Clearwater, Florida (Scientology’s spiritual mecca), attempted to hack my emails, we were filmed covertly, I also had the police called on me more than once, not to mention a blizzard of legal letters from Scientology lawyers.”

The journalist said he remained open to the church's good points throughout filming and tried and see the group for what it is.

"A system of belief that is not so different from other religions, capable of enlarging the soul as well as crushing the spirit," he said.

Because Theroux was refused access to film inside the church’s headquarter, he used actors and former Scientologists to help him to reenact parts of the film - including the group's acts of violence and intimidation.

"More than 10 years ago, I approached the church to see if they might let me in to make a documentary," Theroux said.

"I thought I might be able to bring a sense of nuance and perspective to people’s understanding of a faith that has been much ridiculed.

"Just as I have done with other non-mainstream stories, I hoped to see it from the inside and make a human connection with its clerics and congregants. But I was repeatedly turned down."

Theroux is better known for the Weird Weekends series and his documentaries about pedophiles, prisons and racists.

He will arrive in Australia for the first time as part of a speaking tour.