Saturday 17 March 2018

Sisters of 'slave' have still not spoken to her since she walked free

Josephine Herivel
Josephine Herivel

Sam Marsden, Ben Riley-Smith, Claire Duffin in Belfast and Miranda Prynne

THE sisters of one of the women allegedly held as a 'slave' for more than 30 years have not spoken to her or the police since she walked free.

Josephine Herivel (57) grew up in Belfast as one of three daughters of John Herivel, a brilliant mathematician who helped to crack the Nazi Enigma code as part of the team at Bletchley Park during World War Two.

However, her late parents appear to have effectively written her out of their lives after she joined the extremist Marxist collective based in south London, led by Aravindan Balakrishnan.

They made no mention of Josephine in their wills, leaving their estates to be shared between their two other daughters, Mary (60), and Susan (65), who both live in north London.

Former neighbours of Mr and Mrs Herivel in a north Oxford suburb said they never talked about their third child.

Julian Hall, a retired judge who lived opposite the couple's £1.1m semi-detached Edwardian house for a decade, said: "There was never any mention of Josephine. I had no idea they had a third daughter.

"We used to see their other two daughters, they would come down for Christmas or parties, the usual family get-togethers.


"But there was never any sign of a third daughter, no mention, nothing." Obituaries published after Mr Herivel's death in 2011 also referred to him having only two daughters.

Asked yesterday whether she had spoken to her sister or the police since the three women were "released" on October 25, Mary Herivel said: "We haven't talked to anybody yet."

She refused to discuss her relationship with Josephine, adding: "I think it's up to Josie to talk to anybody if she wants to."

The Metropolitan Police declined to comment on who it has contacted during the investigation.

Meanwhile, it has also emerged that police lost the opportunity to carry out a full investigation into the mysterious death of a member of the Maoist sect accused of holding three women as slaves, because a hospital waited months before alerting officers, her family has claimed. Sian Davies (44), a former pupil at Cheltenham Ladies' College, was left paralysed from the neck down after falling from a second-floor bathroom window in a house occupied by the far-Left collective on Christmas Eve 1996.

She was treated at King's College Hospital in south London for more than seven months, but it was only after she died in August the following year that police were informed about the circumstances of the fall, according to relatives.

Miss Davies's cousin, Eleri Morgan, questioned why the hospital took so long to tell Scotland Yard and suggested the suspicions of medical staff should have been aroused by the bizarre behaviour of the other sect members.

She said: "She was taken to King's and King's did nothing about it.

"The police said it was too late. The police said it was such a shame because by the time she died, there was nothing there in terms of evidence."

Detectives visited the Marxist collective's house in Shakespeare Road, Herne Hill, and spoke to neighbours, but there was insufficient evidence to launch a criminal investigation.

A coroner recorded an open verdict for Miss Davies's death after observing that it was "difficult to know" how she had fallen out of the sash window at the rear of the house or even why she would have opened it in the middle of winter. Miss Morgan (64) a retired teacher from Eltham, south-east London, said: "Why didn't King's say something?

Scotland Yard has requested the papers from the inquest and is reviewing its involvement in the case.

King's College Hospital said it would assist the police by providing any help or information requested by officers.

A spokesman for the hospital said: "Given the amount of time that has elapsed since the incident in question, we are unable to provide details at short notice about any aspect of this patient's care or treatment during their admission to hospital."

Miss Davies grew up in Wales and studied law at Aberystwyth University before moving on to the London School of Economics, where she became involved in the sect in the 1970s.

She maintained scant contact with her family over the following decades and little is known about her time with the group.


Official records disclose that she was the mother of Rosie Davies (30) one of three women "freed" from the collective's housing association flat in Stockwell, south London, last month.

The birth certificate of Rosie Davies shows that her real name is Prem Maopinduzi, meaning "revolution" in Swahili, although no father is listed.

Fiona Mactaggart, a Labour MP, disclosed yesterday that she was in the same class as Miss Davies at Cheltenham Ladies' College.

The sect's leader, Aravindan Balakrishnan (73) known as "Comrade Bala", and his wife, Chanda (67), were arrested last week on suspicion of slavery-related offences and have been bailed to a date in January. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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