Leader of Maoist 'cult' denies rape and keeping women as his slaves
The leader of a Maoist 'cult' has denied raping a follower, claiming that the female members of his commune had competed for his affections and encouraged the sexual activity themselves.
Aravindan Balakrishnan (75), also denied keeping the women as slaves, telling a court they refused to let him help around the house to allow him to get on with his "ideological and political work".
And he suggested that his daughter, whom he is alleged to have kept prisoner for 30 years, was not allowed to leave the commune because he feared she would be attacked on the violent streets of Brixton, south London.
'Comrade Bala' is accused of using "brutal and calculated" manipulation to subjugate women under his control, regularly forcing two of them to perform degrading sex acts and subjecting them to vicious beatings.
He groomed and raped one of his victims after forcing her to keep explicit sex diaries which he shared with the rest of his sect, Southwark Crown Court has heard. His own daughter was kept captive from her birth in 1983, until she managed to escape the cult in 2013 aged 30, it is claimed.
Giving evidence at his trial for the first time, married Balakrishnan burst out laughing when confronted with the allegation that he had raped one of the complainants.
He claimed the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was "extremely jealous" of another member of the collective, Sian Davies, with whom he had also had an affair and who fathered his child. He said she had seduced him in order to try and outdo her.
"She was extremely competitive with Sian, that's even before they knew me," he told the jury. "It goes way back because (the alleged victim) wasn't good in her studies.
Asked why he had kissed the complainant back when she allegedly first kissed him, he replied: "She was quite a pushy person - she was extremely jealous of Sian and she never hid it."
Balakrishnan claimed he encouraged the woman to write down her sexual history in order to "cleanse her mind".
And he insisted that he had not ordered his followers to sever ties with their families but that they had done so of their own free will.
The women never went out alone, and neighbours have recalled seeing the women leaving the house just once a week to go to the shops, walking in single file.
His daughter almost never went outside, it is claimed, and locals remember occasionally catching a glimpse of her face staring out of the window.
Balakrishnan, from Edmonton, north London, said the women were only allowed out in pairs because the area they lived in was "notorious for violence" and "anything could happen".
The Indian-born pensioner, who emigrated to the UK from Singapore in 1963, described himself as a "revolutionary socialist" when he arrived in the country because of an anti-communist sentiment.
He attended London School of Economics in the 1960s and said he believed the British state was fascist at that time after witnessing the country's "cruelty" in their former colony Singapore.
He denies seven counts of indecent assault and four counts of rape against two women during the 1970s and 1980s. He also denies three counts of actual bodily harm, cruelty to a child under 16 and false imprisonment.
The trial continues.