Video of Irishwoman believed to be at centre of 'slave' probe broadcast

27 November 2013 00:26

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Video of Irishwoman believed to be at centre of 'slave' probe broadcast

ITV news has broadcast a video it claims shows pictures of two of the women allegedly held for 30 years, naming one of them as 57-year-old Irishwoman ‘Josephine’.

It is claimed the Irishwoman in this video, Josephine, was the one who alerted authorities to the women's plight in a phone call to a charity last month.

The pictures were broadcast in 1997 as part of a report made following the death and inquest of another young women, Sian Davies, who fell from a window at the group’s house.

The Telegraph has said the woman is Josephine Herivel from Co Armagh, the daughter of a code-breaking hero from the Second World War.

It says the woman is the daughter of mathematician, John Herivel, who was a key figure in the team who cracked the German Enigma ciphers in 1940.

Meanwhile, slavery suspect Aravindan Balakrishnan was more of a "toothless old man" than a "charismatic" figure, according to the cousin of a woman who lived in his commune for more than 20 years.

Eleri Morgan claims her cousin Ms Davies died in 1997 after mysteriously falling out of a bathroom window in the house the group were living in in Brixton, south London.

Ms Davies was kept in hospital for seven months after the fall, but her family claim they were not told.

Ms Morgan said Ms Davies wrote home talking of how she was looking after the "mothers of the world" but was not allowed to see her cousin. Her letters always spoke of "comrade Bala" - the name that Balakrishnan was referred to.

Ms Morgan met Balakrishnan at the inquest into her cousin's death. She told ITV News: "I had such a shock because I imagined somebody charismatic and there was this toothless old man - well looked old."

A senior council source confirmed that Balakrishnan and his wife Chanda were arrested last week by police amid allegations that they held three women for more than 30 years. It is claimed they were leaders of an extremist Maoist collective.

The alleged victims - a 57-year-old Irishwoman, a 30-year-old Briton, and a 69-year-old Malaysian - are alleged to have suffered years of "physical and mental abuse" at the hands of the pair.

House-to-house inquiries have been carried out in Peckford Place in Brixton, where the three women were found. Police have confirmed that there are ongoing inquiries relating to a total of 13 addresses, all in London, linked to the couple.

The couple, aged 73 and 67, are believed to have been well-known to the police in the 1970s after setting up a communist squat, the Mao Zedong Memorial Centre, in Acre Lane, Brixton in 1976.


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