ABUL TAHER, THE SUNDAY TIMES, AUGUST 21, 2006
Despite being told their ideas defy the laws of physics, the material girl and her film-maker husband believe Kabbalah fluid can be given magical powers, writes Abul Taher
MADONNA and her husband, Guy Ritchie, have been lobbying the British Government and nuclear industry over a magic cleaning solution.
The couple, both followers of the Jewish spiritual movement Kabbalah, approached Downing Street, Whitehall and British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) promoting a scheme to clean up radioactive waste using a “mystical” liquid tested in a Russian lake.
“It was like a crank call … the scientific mechanisms and principles were just bollocks, basically,” one official said.
But public servants at the Department of Trade and Industry and scientists at BNFL were obliged to take the celebrity couple seriously.
It is understood that the couple, who live in London and Wiltshire, were promoting a water-based solution that had allegedly proved successful in neutralising dangerous nuclear waste in Russia.
The Kabbalah Centre, which is based in California, believes water is a uniquely important substance that can be given magic healing powers through “meditations and the consciousness of sharing”.
Madonna is said to have approached Downing Street, before being directed to the DTI. “She relentlessly pursued people,” said a former DTI public servant. “She wanted to get this Russian scientist to explain this to civil servants.”
But her campaign became bogged down by Whitehall bureaucracy. “It was a case of pass the parcel,” the public servant said.
Ritchie, who directed Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, cold-called BNFL and wrote a series of letters accompanied by scientific papers. A panel of BNFL’s best scientists was assigned to look at the proposal but could find no scientific basis for the claims.
The lobbying, which took place a few years ago, was part of a campaign by Madonna, who saw it as her mission to rid the world of nuclear waste. She made this clear in newspaper interviews at the time.
“I mean, one of the biggest problems that exists right now in the world is nuclear waste,” she said. “That’s something I’ve been involved with for a while with a group of scientists – finding a way to neutralise radiation, believe it or not.”
The Kabbalah Centre, which is based in Los Angeles but has branches worldwide, was set up by Philip Berg, a former insurance salesman. One devotee has described how Berg leads chants of “Chernobyl” and the names of other nuclear power plants. Followers believe this helps “heal the problem of nuclear waste”.
Undercover reporters who attended a Kabbalah Centre dinner in London described how Madonna and Ritchie were among guests who turned east towards Chernobyl and began shouting its name.
Some Kabbalah followers are even said to believe that nuclear waste is the cause of the AIDS epidemic.
Madonna has said: “According to science, we aren’t going to have a planet in about 50 years at the rate we’re going with nuclear waste.
“I can write the greatest songs and make the most fabulous films and be a fashion icon and conquer the world, but if there isn’t a world to conquer, what’s the point?
“I’ve just come to a place in my life where I’m trying to really see what the big picture is and where my energy is better spent, and that’s one area I’m really concerned about.”
The Kabbalah Centre is believed to have sponsored Oroz, a “23rd-century” research body in New York that heralded a “breakthrough” in neutralising radioactive waste.
Artur Spokojny, the director of Oroz and a Kabbalah follower, is said to have developed a “revolutionary” decontamination agent called Orodyne, which can reportedly also treat gynaecological problems in cows and sheep.
Three years ago, the research centre claimed it had experimented with the agent in Lake Glyboke near Chernobyl and had successfully decontaminated the water.
BNFL says it was approached by “a Mr Ritchie” at that time. Ritchie was told by one senior executive that the scheme defied the laws of physics but he persisted and was referred to a team led by Sue Ion, BNFL’s executive director of technology, said to have “a brain the size of a planet”.
The industry is trying to find ways to dispose of many tonnes of waste, with more on the way if plans for new nuclear power stations go ahead, so anyone with a viable solution could expect a sympathetic hearing.
Paul Vallance, director of communications for British Nuclear Group, the nuclear clean-up arm of BNFL, said: “If Mr Ritchie, or anyone else for that matter, has such a solution we would be more than happy to speak to them.”
Madonna was not available to comment at the weekend because she is on tour in Germany.
A spokeswoman said: “I’ve spoken to Guy’s office and I don’t think he is going to be available to talk about this … I don’t think it’s top of the list of things they are working on at the moment.”