Belfast Telegraph

Police probe possible Armagh link to woman allegedly kept as a slave in London

By Anna Maguire

The Metropolitan Police said it is trying to establish whether a woman allegedly held for 30 years as a slave in London is from Northern Ireland.

A spokesman for the Greater London police force said the 57-year-old woman, who has been described as Irish, doesn't hold a passport.

Reports have suggested that the alleged female victim – who was one of the three rescued from a south London house on October 25 – hails from Armagh. She left many years ago to study in Dublin, before moving on to London.

Officers are currently piecing together what information they have about the three women – a 30-year-old British woman, a 69-year-old Malaysian woman and the 57-year-old Irish woman.

The force has yet to request assistance from the PSNI or Gardai, a spokesman said.

However, the Metropolitan Police is expected to contact both forces as the investigation progresses.

"Whether the Irish victim is from the Republic or Northern Ireland has yet to be established," a spokesman from the Metropolitan Police said last night.

"We do not know. From some of the reporting I think it has been suggested that she has got links to both sides (of the border). But the exact nationality, formally, is unknown.

"I don't think there's any passport," he added. "If she had a passport, we would know. We are not messing around with some dual nationality flakiness – it's just unknown."

It is also unknown whether the alleged victim may hail from Co Armagh or Armagh city. Local politicians said they knew nothing of the case or the woman yesterday.

The question over the 57-year-old's nationality indicates the scale of the investigation confronting the Metropolitan Police. It is understood that state-held records on the Irish woman may not exist or may be considered inaccurate.

The case came to light after the Irish woman rang Freedom Charity to say she had been held against her will.

One of the women, a 30-year-old, is thought to have never lived independently.

Officers said two of the three women met "through a shared political ideology" before living together.

A couple, both aged 67, were held on suspicion of immigration offences. They have been released on police bail until January.

They are said to have migrated from India and Tanzania in the 1960s.

In a statement, Commander Steve Rodhouse of the Metropolitan Police, said: "We believe that two of the victims met the male suspect in London through a shared political ideology, and that they lived together at an address that you could effectively call a 'collective'.

"Somehow that collective came to an end and the women ended up continuing to live with the suspects.

"How this resulted in the women living in this way for over 30 years is what we are seeking to establish, but we believe emotional and physical abuse has been a feature of all the victims' lives."

Yesterday, Home Secretary Theresa May described slavery in the UK as widespread.

She has outlined plans to bolster anti-slavery laws.

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