Shawn Lonsdale (1969 – February 16, 2008) was a videographer and prominent critic of the Church of Scientology. He resided in Clearwater, Florida, and regularly videotaped members of Scientology coming and going from church activities in Clearwater. Lonsdale had initially intended to do a photography project on homeless people in Clearwater, but after an experience at a City Council meeting, he began to research Scientology. Lonsdale got into an argument with a Scientologist at the City Council meeting, and the Scientologist followed him home and the next day Lonsdale observed a van waiting for two hours outside his home. After researching the Church of Scientology on critical websites, he decided to expose information about the organization. He established a website, and filmed video footage of Scientologists going about activities in Clearwater, and aired edited footage on a local Public-access television cable TV station. After getting into a physical altercation with a Scientologist while filming, the Scientologist was arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery, but was later released and the charges were dropped.
The Church of Scientology hired private investigators and discovered a criminal record on Lonsdale, and this was subsequently publicized by a Scientologist on fliers and on a website. Lonsdale was subpoenaed by the Church of Scientology in 2006, and they accused him of being affiliated with the Lisa McPherson Trust, a group critical of Scientology which was restricted in where it could protest in Clearwater. In 2007, Lonsdale appeared on the BBC Panorama program Scientology and Me and was interviewed by journalist John Sweeney. Later in the program, Sweeney lost his temper and shouted at a Scientology representative when he was accused of giving Lonsdale a "soft interview". Lonsdale died suddenly on February 16, 2008, and a Clearwater police spokeswoman stated that the death appears to be due to suicide.
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... In 2007, Lonsdale let his Scientology critique website lapse, and posted less frequently on his blogs and anti-Scientology message boards and chat forums ... Spokeswoman Pat Harney stated that the Church had not heard from Lonsdale for months before his death ... Petersburg Times that Lonsdale "found it impossible" to make a living while spending the majority of his time as a critic of Scientology ...