Labor member for Lismore Janelle Saffin says she's continuing to push for further action on Universal Medicine.
Labor member for Lismore Janelle Saffin says she's continuing to push for further action on Universal Medicine. Contributed

MP says she's pursuing action on 'socially harmful cult'

LISMORE MP Janelle Saffin has committed to keeping her word on addressing concerns about the ongoing operations of Universal Medicine on the Northern Rivers.

The founder of the Goonellabah-based "complementary medicine" business, Serge Benhayon, was last year found by a Supreme Court jury in a defamation trial to be "the leader of a socially harmful cult" and a "charlatan" with "misleading" practices.

Ms Saffin last year backed calls by The Northern Star for an inquiry into UM.

She later welcomed a directive from NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard that ordered NSW Health cease any associations with UM.

Ahead of the March state election, Ms Saffin said she was "deeply concerned" by the group's alleged influence on children, the elderly and other vulnerable people.

Just over three months since being elected, Ms Saffin has confirmed she's continuing to lobby on the issue.

"An organisation deemed to be a socially harmful cult is not one that I want in my community," Ms Saffin said, referring to the decision of the jury.

"I have raised it at the highest level.

"If there's no suitable outcome, if I'm not satisfied with the outcome, then I'll raise it directly on the floor of parliament."

Ms Saffin said she would still support an inquiry into UM if concerns about the group's activities could not be otherwise resolved.

For those concerned about UM's operations, Ms Saffin said contacting her office was vital.

"Keep coming to see me," she said.

A host of findings by the Supreme Court jury, including that Mr Benhayon was a "cult" leader, "dishonest", "vilifies people with disabilities" and "preys on cancer patients" and that Universal Medicine "engages in misleading conduct in promoting the healing services it offers" were made when he unsuccessfully sued blogger Esther Rockett for defamation.

Mr Benhayon has been repeatedly approached for comment since that verdict was handed down.

Last week, Supreme Court Justice Julia Lonergan who presided over the defamation trial found there were grounds to refer Mr Benhayon's solicitor, Paula Fletcher, to the NSW Legal Services Commissioner for possible disciplinary action.



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