‘Cult’ leader’s bizarre instructions revealed
Secret emails have revealed an Australian swim teacher - referred to by her father as the reincarnation of Winston Churchill - instructed members of a "cult" in England.
Simone Benhayon, 34, sent emails encouraging followers of Universal Medicine to post comments online at least five times a day, except for those who had been on a "time travel experience".
Universal Medicine, which was started near Byron Bay, was being run in the one-pub village of Tytherington, two hours west of London, a short drive past Stonehenge.
A News Corp investigation has uncovered details of how Ms Benhayon, who is listed as a director of Universal Medicine UK on Companies House, was involved in communicating with followers in the UK.
The "cult" reportedly involves followers burping out bad spirits and going to bed at 9pm and getting up at 3am. They also follow a strict diet, which bans alcohol.
Ms Benhayon wrote to followers: "At this stage it feels as though there are people taking advantage of the program by saying they are on it but are not stepping forward and embracing it … this means a minimum of 5 comments per day."
In another email she gives an allowance to some of her European followers because of their recent "time travel experience".
A website about Universal Medicine founder Serge Benhayon has hundreds of comments below testimonials about the group.
Ms Benhayon, who locals say drives a black Porsche, runs a swimming program from a 15m pool in the buildings used by Universal Medicine.
Lessons have been cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions and many local schools stopped using the pool after details of Universal Medicine's activities became known.
A ruling this month in the UK Court of Appeal found a female member must leave the group or lose access to her daughter, finding that it made the daughter vulnerable to "eating disorders".
A UK court had also said the group had "potentially harmful and sinister elements".
In 2018, the NSW Supreme Court found Universal Medicine, run by Simone's father Serge Benhayon - who says he is the reincarnation of Leonardo da Vinci - was a "socially harmful cult".
A jury also found Serge Benhayon has an "indecent interest in young girls as young as 10" and Universal Medicine "preys on cancer patients".
The group, which tells women they should not play sport because they risk infertility, has continued on despite the court battles.
In addition to their strict routine, followers are expected to turn doorknobs only anticlockwise.
Universal Medicine has also continued to offer "esoteric breast massage".
"Today many women lack true care and connection with their bodies, and as a result, with
their breasts," a Universal Medicine website says, with sessions costing $70.
Nina Foy, a Tytherington local, said she wanted Universal Medicine and its followers to leave the village, saying the group "sucked in vulnerable people" for money.
"I would like them to move out. They are a cult and they prey on the vulnerable. It's just immoral," she said.
Fishermen who have a lease on a carp-filled lake on the property say they were annoyed they had to pack up at 8pm during summer hours, wondering if followers "ran around naked".
Others in Tytherington said members of the group were "zombos", walking strangely through the town at night.
Serge Benhayon was a former tennis coach and started Universal Medicine in 1999. It was based in Goonellabah, northern New South Wales.
Its website claims it now has centres in Germany, Norway, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Canada and the United States.
Universal Medicine has not run workshops at its UK base since last year.
Ms Benhayon did not answer the door when News Corp visited her home this week.
A black Porsche SUV was parked in a home used by Simon Williams, who has a testimonial on a Universal website.
Mr Williams was a graduate of Eton College, which was attended by Prince William, Prince Harry and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
All the curtains were drawn in the modern house, which looked like something from the set of James Bond film Quantum of Solace.
There were several Audis in some of the homes along the small street where the centre was based, which are a common vehicle for members of Universal Medicine.
A woman in the training centre declined to comment, saying she was only there to do cleaning.
Serge Benhayon did not respond to phone calls or emails.
Originally published as Aussie 'cult' leader's bizarre instructions revealed