In Brief

London slavery couple: former 'Maoist activists' named

BBC understands couple arrested on Thursday were once 'leading figures' in Brixton-based group

THE couple arrested in relation to alleged slavery in South London are former Maoist activists Aravindan Balakrishnan and his wife Chanda, the BBC has reported.

The broadcaster describes the couple as "leading figures at the Mao Zedong Memorial Centre based in Acre Lane, Brixton, in the late 1970s". The Daily Mail claims they were jailed for assaulting a Met officer in 1978.

Balakrishnan, 73, and his 67-year-old wife were arrested on Thursday in relation to three women who were allegedly held as slaves at an address in Brixton, south London for more than 30 years. He is reportedly of Indian origin, while she comes from Tanzania.

Since their arrest, the couple have been linked to 13 addresses in London, the BBC says. The Met has not confirmed or denied the couple's identity.

The BBC says Met officers carried out house-to-house inquiries in and around Peckford Place, Brixton - from where the women were allegedly rescued - over the weekend. It is understood that the couple and the three women lived together as a "collective" after two of the women met the man through a "shared political ideology".

The Daily Mail reports that one of the women, a 30-year-old it calls Rosie, reportedly wrote hundreds of impassioned letters and poems to a neighbour over an eight-year period. Marius Feneck, who lives two floors above the address where the women were allegedly held as slaves, said the woman described how she suffered "unspeakable torment" at the hands of a couple who adopted her when she was a baby after her parents died in a fire.

In another letter allegedly written by the 30-year-old, she said she felt "like a fly trapped in a spider's web..." The woman also posted dozens of photographs of herself to Feneck, which reveal the "cramped, sparsely furnished flat that was her home", the Mail reports.

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