Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'm Christ, Follow Me: How 'Slave' Sect Leader Controlled His Recruits; EXCLUSIVE; 'He Never Used Force but Women Followers Gave Up Their Careers and Futures for Him'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

I'm Christ, Follow Me: How 'Slave' Sect Leader Controlled His Recruits; EXCLUSIVE; 'He Never Used Force but Women Followers Gave Up Their Careers and Futures for Him'

Article excerpt

Byline: David Churchill, Justin Davenport and John Dunne

A FORMER member of the London sect whose leader is accused of keeping three women as domestic slaves for 30 years today revealed new details of life with the charismatic Maoist leader.

Community worker Dudley Heslop, 59, said he attended lectures given by "Comrade Bala" Aravindan Balakrishnan at his Brixton HQ.

Police with advisers used to dealing with victims of trauma began interviewing the women today. Commander Steve Rodhouse said officers expected "many and varied offences" to have been committed.

Balakrishnan, 73, and his wife Chanda, 67, are accused of holding the women at 13 different addresses across London for decades.

Speaking to the Standard, Mr Heslop, who rejected the teachings, told how he went to meetings at Balakrishnan's Mao Zedong Memorial Centre in Brixton in the Seventies for a year. He told how:

Balakrishnan tried to convince recruits he was like Jesus Christ and the collective was disciplined and run on military lines.

Members were cut off from their families and the outside world.

Followers were required to work full-time and hand over their wages for the revolutionary cause.

His message was that China would invade and liberate "fascist" Britain.

Balakrishnan moved into a Battersea home owned by follower Sian Davies -- thought to be the mother of Rosie Smith, 30, one of those rescued.

He convinced Sian to hand over around [pounds sterling]10,000 to pay the lease and costs on the group's centre in Brixton. She later died after mysteriously falling from a window at a property controlled by the group in Herne Hill. The first images of Balakrishnan have been revealed as details also emerged about the identities of the women he allegedly kept in captivity.

Josephine Herivel, 57, an Irishwoman who first rang a charity to say she was being held against her will, is the daughter of Bletchley Park codebreaker John Herivel. The others are 69-year-old Malaysian Aishah Wahab, who was a high-flying student who came to Britain to study in 1968, and Rosie Davies.

Mr Heslop said he attended lectures at the centre when he was 22 before rejecting the doctrine and becoming a community worker.

He said Balakrishnan had a brilliant mind and was an amazing speaker, adding: "He was handsome and slim and dressed neatly. He always wore a pressed shirt."

He added the leader would claim: "I am Christ follow me". "He was approachable and charismatic. His flaw was he was 100 per cent revolutionary. If people said he was brainwashing others he said he was cleaning their brains. His followers were committed to becoming revolutionaries. He would say, 'I am Christ follow me' and people would. He was never violent, he was too self-controlled. …

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