The full story of 'Comrade Bala' and the women of the south London Maoist cult he held in his thrall can now be told
Sian Davies, who died in a fall in 1996; a woman believed to be Aishah Wahab; Josephine Herivel, and Rosie Davies, Sian's daughter
They were the brightest of girls with the brightest of futures. But for three decades, the women allegedly lived in the fearful, dark shadows.
They were, according to police, the victims of terrible psychological and physical abuse; effectively kept as slaves and held against their will as members of an extremist, political cult.
The Telegraph can now piece together how Aravindan Balakrishnan – a disciple of Chairman Mao, the late Chinese communist leader, and known as Comrade Bala to his devotees – ran a community so secret that nobody realised that three women, apparently free to come and go at will, were apparently shackled in all that time to their mercurial leader by “invisible handcuffs”.
Josephine Herivel, now aged 57, was one of those women. She was a brilliant young violinist, whose eminent father had been instrumental in breaking the Nazi’s Enigma wartime code at Bletchley Park.
But Miss Herivel became cut off from her family in the mid-1970s some time after arriving in London from her native Belfast, where her father was a lecturer at Queen’s University. By the time he died, two years ago, she had been left out of the family will while his obituaries made mention of just two daughters, not three.