Irish ‘slave woman’ is the daughter of WW2 hero

An Irish woman who has allegedly been held as a slave in a house in London for the past 30 years is the daughter of a World War II hero code breaker.

Image copyright ITV
Josephine Herivel

Josephine Herivel was rescued by police last week after claiming she and two other women were being held against their will.

The potential case of modern day slavery shocked the world and after investigations by English newspaper the Daily Telegraph, the story has developed further.

Key role in the Allied victory

It appears that Miss Herivel is the estranged daughter of John Herivel, a man who played a key role in the Allied victory in the Second World War. Mr Herivel was a code breaker in Bletchley Park in 1940, employed to intercept German communications and work out the details hidden within the coded messages.

He developed a method of interpreting the messages that became known as the Herivel Tip. He worked on an assumption that the German code operators may stray from official procedures and cut corners to reduce their workload. This assumption was the basis on which Allied code breakers were able to crack the crucial Red cipher, the code writing machine used by the Germans. This proved to be a key factor in the Allied forces finally defeating the Germans.

Mr Herivel returned to his native Belfast after the war with his wife and they had three daughters.

Miss Herivel dismissed the judge as a ‘fascist lackey’

The Telegraph reports that after moving to London, Josephine got involved in a radical Maoist sect. She became obsessed with the group’s leader Aruvindan Balakrishnan and followed him blindly, turning her back on her family as a result.

Miss Herivel’s involvement in the sect led to her getting into trouble with the authorities. She was arrested after a raid on the groups’ bookshop in South London in 1978. When she appeared in court Miss Herivel dismissed the judge as a ‘fascist lackey’. She was also questioned by police in 1997 about the suspicious death of one of the group’s members.
Mr Herivel died in 2011 but the obituaries made no mention of Josephine, only referring to his other two daughters who both refused to comment on these latest developments.

After she was freed from the house in South London last week, Miss Herivel initially requested that no action be taken against the people who had held her captive. But the police have now arrested Mr Balakrishnan and his wife Chanda on suspicion of slavery related offences.