There’s either more or less to this story than we’re being told

A woman who was born into captivity and allowed no contact with the outside world is one of three ‘slaves’ who have been rescued after being kept against their will in a south London house for 30 years, the police revealed on Thursday.

Hmm. The alleged perpetrators seem, according to The Guardian, to have been released on bail:

The pair, who are not British citizens, were bailed early on Friday morning until a date in January. They were arrested on suspicion of being involved in forced labour and domestic servitude, contrary to Section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.

Would one of the resident lawyers like to comment on this? Seems slightly odd that they get police bail (“early on friday morning” ain’t gonna be court or magistrate’s bail, is it?) for such a serious offence.

Anyone care to comment? For it makes me think there’;s rather more uncertainty to this than currently obvious.

68 comments on “There’s either more or less to this story than we’re being told

  1. Yes, that’s what I’ve been thinking since the moment it broke. There’s something not quite square about this, for instance the premeditated media blitz. The fact that rather than kick the door down, the police apparently sort of got them to leave. The curious lack of an actual description of what the situation was. There’s some narrative framing going on here. It’s going to be interesting to see what has actually occurred.

  2. Unless there is a risk of flight or witness intimidation I’m not sure the would have been any justification to remand on bail. They have been granted police bail and have not yet been charged with any offence nor appeared in court. This happens with even more serious alleged offences. Sean Jenkins was bailed by police investigating his alleged murder of a schoolgirl. What is more surprising are the statements being made about the case by police and charities given that no charges have yet been made.

  3. So a pair of non-British citizens kept a woman captive with no access to the outside world for 30 years – in Britain. Why would they have not applied for citizenship? Bit odd for people to live in UK for this length of time and not apply for citizenship.

  4. If you HAD been holding someone captive for 30 years (the born into captivity baffles me–we are all at the mercy of our parents–most luckily are good people) then the risk of flight is prob fairly high. There is a definite stink around this one.

    A possible thought–the domestic servitude angle–wonder if they haven’t sent their kids to school but put ‘em to work instead. SOP in some part of the world–but ducking the attempted state brainwashing is frowned on over here.

  5. At the moment there is nothing saying they where kept captive in the UK for the whole of the 30 year period is there?

  6. @ian
    I wonder if we’re talking “people of importance” here.? With process being much of punishment, these days, the threat of unleashing a media storm’s a useful lever to have.

  7. Just read a bit more on it and so there is, there’s got to be a very interesting back story to this then!

  8. @Tim Newman, while Britain is totally cool about dual (or third etc,) citizenship a lot of countries require you to relinquish their citizenship if you take another. That can be a strong motivator to not acquire British nationality.

  9. Purely speculating here, since we don’t know anything at all, but I wonder if we’re in “weird foreign religious nutters” territory here.

  10. Mike’s right that unless the alleged perps are a flight risk or there’s a risk of witness intimidation then there may not be a reason for the police to refusal bail right now.

    However, if we take things at face value and assume that what we’ve been told so far is more or less on the level then any case against the alleged perps is going to rest very heavily on evidence from these three women who you’d assume to be in a pretty fucked up state right now, so the Police may well be in a position of having to move cautiously for the time being because they can’t yet be certain that these women will be a fit state to co-operate fully with their inquiries.

    Bailing the alleged perps may come down to nothing more than a need to buy a bit of time in a situation where moving to fast might risk blowing the case.

  11. I would assume they’d get bail. Who else are they going to enslave before their court appearance?

    I would also assume that their passports have been confiscated.

    As for the lack of details, that is probably down protecting the identities of the victims. At least for now. I certainly hope that they’re being given some expert advice to help them deal with the inevitable media attention.

  12. dearieme, it’s one of the alleged victims who is Irish, not one of the alleged perps!

    All we know about them is they have been said to be ‘Asian’. I think we know they aren’t likely to be Chinese…

  13. “The nationalities are odd, too. Irish?!?”

    Irish passport doesn’t imply Irish, though. Republic was always pretty soft about handing out documentation. One parent from there’d do for entitlement & they weren’t great shakes for checking. (Didn’t they include those from the province as being eligible?) Murph’s got one hasn’t he? Certainly know a few holders who are no more Irish than i am. So not a difficult piece of paperwork to obtain, although it may be harder now.

  14. At the moment there is nothing saying they where kept captive in the UK for the whole of the 30 year period is there?

    True, but it’s implied by their being kept away from the outside world. Shunting people across borders on planes or ferries doesn’t fit that description so well.

  15. @Tim Newman, while Britain is totally cool about dual (or third etc,) citizenship a lot of countries require you to relinquish their citizenship if you take another. That can be a strong motivator to not acquire British nationality.

    True, and I was wondering which country they’d be from. Obviously not your regular African or Asian shithole, as they’d be snapping up the passport. So maybe one of the more strict European countries? Germany, perhaps?

  16. Germany is fine with dual nationality if your other nationality is EU. Which is why I am doing it now, safely before the Camerendum on Brexit.

  17. Ah, okay. Didn’t know that. Friend of mine is German, but living in Canada and can’t get a Canadian passport without giving up his German one, assumed it was universal.

  18. Well, whatever the truth, the charity has certainly played a blinder on the publicity side, haven’t they?

    There’s so much discussion of slavery on the MSM & my Twitter timeline it all reads like a ‘Gor’ novel!

  19. Which is the point of this thing. By the time any real facts come out, and maybe we find out that this is something perhaps just rather weird and murky and strange, the “slavery” narrative will already be thoroughly implanted in the public consciousness.

  20. According to police spokesman Commander Steve Rodhouse, they could have been mistaken for a “normal family” but the 3 women were restrained by “invisible handcuffs”. And possibly guarded by imaginary dragons.

    I’m not sure which is odder, the invisible handcuffs or the idea that a 67 year old married couple living with a 67 year old Malaysian, a 57 year old Irish woman and a 30 year old British woman could be considered a ‘normal’ family.

    I made up the bit about the dragons.

  21. Germany is fine with dual nationality if your other nationality is EU. Which is why I am doing it now, safely before the Camerendum on Brexit.

    Good move – I’ve had both for a long time though it’s boring that the passports are both naff little red jobs rather than the respectively blue and green hard covered jobs of yesteryear.

  22. Well, it’s easy to ridicule the invisible handcuffs, but there’s a fair point there. The test case was a few years back, of that man who successfully convinced his lovers-cum-victims that he was a spy and that assassins were after him. They would eventually be afraid to leave the house due to the fear of being attacked by the enemy in order to get to him, and spent literally years confined to their houses, losing their jobs, contact with friends and relatives, etc. I believe he was convicted of kidnapping despite never using any actual physical restraint. And, reading the details of the case at the time, that made sense.

  23. Julia
    “Well, whatever the truth, the charity has certainly played a blinder on the publicity side, haven’t they?”

    My thoughts exactly.

    Bearing in mind the desperation there is in some quarters to create the myth of an invisible slave army living and working in the UK, the fact that this piece has been led by the charity in question made me more than a little suspicious.

    But we’ll see.

  24. I’m just wondering about this invisible handcuffs principle. There’s an organisation just down the road from me that tells people that a big angry invisible being is going to torture them for eternity unless they visit at least once a week, put as much money as they can in a plate that gets passed around, and bake cakes for the roof restoration fund.

    Joking aside, I’m just wondering what kind of psychological pressures intended to produce behaviours in others are covered by this new legal principle. What about a therapist inducing dependency in her patients? An environmental pressure group terrifying people into compliance with apocalyptic predictions? The possibilities are endless.

  25. They might possibly be diplomats – that’d account for the 30 years and no passport + the bail thing

    This would account for a lot, in fact. The slightly strange approach, for a start, and it also opens the possibility that they come from a country where indentured servitude is culturallly acceptable.

  26. Re: 30 years and no British passport. Just as a personal anecdote – Australian, been here for 25 years, permanent right to remain, married to an English girl. never got round to getting British passport even though it would allow me to work in the EU and wouldn’t mean having to give up Australian one.

    Main reason being the Home office never seems to be able to promise a maximum limit on how long the application and processing would take with 3 months being quoted as a normal figure. There’s never been a contiguous period of 3 months I haven’t needed my passport in!

  27. @Ukliberty – well, almost certainly the case, after all, in the most recent cases of UK slavery it’s been travellers preying on the mentally frail.

  28. UKL-

    Quite so. I was reminded of the tragic case of Michael Gilbert.

    Thing is, there are already ample laws against holding someone against their will, assaulting them and so on, without requiring new ones against slavery, which is a poor word for Gilbert and possibly this case. But either it requires that the person goes to the police, or else you have to intervene proactively. And then where do you stop? Cult members, for instance, are often considered to be victims of psychological coercion. It’s an interesting ethical problem.

  29. They can’t be diplomats; they are immune from arrest.

    That includes the admin and technical staff of the embassy as well as the actual accredited diplomatics, and their families.

    It could theoretically be very low-ranking embassy “service” staff (drivers, cleaners etc) but even though Plod could arrest I would still expect kid-glove treatment.

  30. No. As I said above, anyone with diplomatic immunity wouldn’t even have been arrested or charged (see the Diplomatic Immunity Act).

    It could only have been done if the home country formally waived their immunity, which doesn’t happen often (certainly not for anything ‘culturally acceptable’ back at home) and would take longer than this.

    Having dealt with a diplomatic immunity case before, even the Revenue used kid-glove treatment even where there wasn’t technically immunity. There’s a special division of the Met that deals with it.

    But I agree, it sounds like someone who is too important somewhere else to piss off.

  31. Saying the couple got bail is police lie and in this instance it is government sanctioned (misleading the public in the public interest). The couple we may eventually discover are from Saudi Arabia

  32. Saying the couple got bail is a police lie and in this instance it is government sanctioned (misleading the public in the public interest). The couple we may eventually discover are from Saudi Arabia

  33. Also odd that this rescue required an operation planned with “utmost sensitivity and secrecy” by a (presumably fake) charity.

    What was wrong with the Met busting the door down? Scared of two 67 years olds? They were certainly up for some door busting during Operation Pentameter.

  34. “They can’t be diplomats; they are immune from arrest.

    That includes the admin and technical staff of the embassy as well as the actual accredited diplomatics, and their families.”

    They’re immune if they ask for diplomatic immunity. Whether they ask, whether their embassy/high commission lets them ask, when they ask; That’d depend on what they’re being arrested for. The embassy can always revoke the immunity so you’d have to be sure they’d back you.

    Might be of interest:
    Some years ago did some work for an Arab woman, has amongst her many worldwide properties, a big house in Bishops Ave, Hampstead (Millionaires Row it’s sometimes referred to) Redo both swimming pools – indoor & out. Must have been there a month & there were 3-4 years of service calls. To get into the place, through the power gates, through a locked & alarmed side gate because the front door only opens to her Arabness. One side door access, always locked. Only bit of the house i ever saw apart from the pool area was a “while your here” to fix a dodgy cistern.
    Reckon that place had at least a dozen S. Asians but the only one I ever spoke to was some sort of major domo guy spoke English. Even the brief inside job, never saw a soul Although there was the odd bit of scurrying. All you saw was odd glimpses of people through windows, young girl taking rubbish to the bin. I’d say they aged form 50s down to teens.
    But no-one, apart from two guys in their 30s took an estate out & returned with boxes of shopping, ever went out. Not even in the garden.
    So say there was someone being kept there. Three locked entrances from the road. Walled garden with razor wire topping. Cameras everywhere. They don’t speak the language. Might not even really understand where they are. They don’t even know being kept in a house is unusual Who’d know?
    Get access to the place? You’d need a warrant. And I’m pretty sure Mrs Arab traveled on a dip, so you’d have to be damned sure of something. Even with the warrant, I’d imagine you’d need to negotiate entry through lawyers, unless you wanted to prompt a shitstorm.
    Bit of a problem,no?

  35. Well, the press launch has already told us “ordinary house in ordinary street” so I think we can ditch the super-wealthy exotic diplomats stuff. My best bet is it’s some weird black swan murky thing that pretty much stands on its own with some strange people in a strange situation that the trafficking industry are going to play for every last drop of publicity it’s worth.

  36. Thirty years is a long time for a diplomat to be stationed in one country, so if there is a diplomatic angle to this then it’s likely “the couple” are just the current occupants of a foreign service residency.

    It’s very odd that this is such a high profile story with no names named. There are serious allegations flying and no minors involved, so why the secrecy? If there is another sensitivity (diplomacy, national security, etc) then why the high profile?

  37. I don’t think it’s secrecy as such. It’s partly a matter of the cloak of anonymity around various moral crimes these days, so not releasing anything that will identify people (as with the absurd “she who cannot be named” business with the Le Vell case). And secondly because underneath all the hoopla, there isn’t a clear case of what crime has been committed, which depends on what narrative is put together in the intensive counselling sessions with the women.

    Hence the talk about virtual handcuffs; there weren’t any real handcuffs (as with the three imprisoned women in the USA recently, or Fritzl, etc) so basically the women could leave but chose not to, under psychological pressure of some kind. If they’t got dungeons and manacles, they’d have had that all over the press launch.

    So it’s a matter of bigging up the narrative of slavery without describing the details. Which is part of why the activists have pushed so hard for secret courts, anonymity for victims, non disclosure of delicate evidence, etc. It means that it’s harder for the general public to form an opinion, and makes it easier to keep a clear narrative running in the media.

  38. Just read the latest Guardian piece on this and can see no sensible reason for the public fanfare at this stage.

    It looks to me like the police have been “bounced” into making a premature announcement by some sort of agenda activist, or a cop is seriously bigging his part up.

  39. Victim(s) could, say, have profoundest learning difficulties, totally incapable of looking after her/themselve … perpetrators are lumbered with them, don’t really want the responsibility, but there is no one else to look after those who cannot look after themselves.

    Alien semi-captives in UK better option than being in wherever they come from (Albania, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Cambodia … ) … there’s often 2 sides or more to a story. The fact of bail being granted makes one wonder. 30 years straightforward kidnap would indeed likely not get bail.

  40. Isn’t some kind of bond ‘slavery’ the rule in the uk. You must borrow a huge amount from a state sactioned entity for education and must pay this off. And then you must borrow a huge amount similarly to live in a house you can control and you must pay this off.And so on.
    When are you free?

  41. IanB:“And secondly because underneath all the hoopla, there isn’t a clear case of what crime has been committed, which depends on what narrative is put together in the intensive counselling sessions with the women.”

    Or in what the ‘Daily Mail’ refers to as ‘briefings on the case for local politicians and community leaders‘.

    Because it seems that ‘community leaders’ (whoever they are) are now part of our justice system. Who knew?

  42. Also from the ‘Mail’ article, and of interest given IanB’s speculation about where this approach could potentially lead:

    They are checking whether the pair have ever been members of any well-known religious cults.

    Sources suggested that a more likely scenario is that they ran their own mini-cult.

    Maybe I shouldn’t have been so sarcastic. Maybe they really are Goreans..!

  43. Interesting to read all this. I’ve not been on this site for a day or two, but heard references to this story yesterday on the car radio. Didn’t discuss with anyone. In no particular order of priority, I thought:

    1) how come they’re on bail?
    2) is this all it’s cracked up to be?
    3) how come we’re hearing about arrests in the 1970s?
    4) there’s a studious failure to refer to the nationalities concerned.

    As to bail, if this case were anywhere near as serious as suggested, they wouldn’t get it – certainly not this side of a crown court judge. They’d automatically be considered a flight risk by virtue of the time they’d serve if found guilty, of whatever it is that justifies this circus.

  44. My feeling is that the police have trapped themselves between the rock of the political ambitions of some ‘slavery’ charity and the hard facts of the law. I reckon someone has found out about these people and worked on them to go to the police and claim they’ve been kept in ‘slavery’ for 30 years, and told them to ham it up with all the buzz words that will set all the PC alarm bells going in your average cop shop these days. Thus they have to ‘do’ something, hence the raid and arrest and subsequent bail while they try to figure out if they can actually make any charges stick.

    My money is on the entire thing being dropped quietly in a few months time when everyone has forgotten about it, but the charity involved will be able to claim that its been ‘fighting modern slavery’ etc and use it all to further its ambitions.

  45. From the Guardian;

    “Metropolitan police commander Steve Rodhouse told reporters that two of the alleged victims met the male suspect in London through a shared political ideology and began living together in a “collective”.”

    There you have it, socialism really is slavery!

    “The suspects, both 67, are of Indian and Tanzanian origin and came to the UK in the 1960s,”

    Is the bloke a guru perhaps?

  46. Since the entire point of leftist dogma is that individuals are owned by the collective then surely slavery is part and parcel of that.

    It may not be advertised as such, but that is what it amounts to , so why should we be surprised that a pair of lefties have taken this to its logical conclusion?

    “The state is your mother, your father, the totality of your interests. No discipline can be too severe for the man that denies that by word or deed.”

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