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Indie a slave to its preconceptions

[16 Dec 2013] Ever written a headline you regret? The Independent had one of them in November when its front-page lead about three women allegedly kept in slavery at a house in Peckford Place, Brixton, howled that the story was ‘London’s shame’.

This was never going to be a good headline. First, because most of London’s six million inhabitants were unlikely to feel any shame at all about the weird goings-on of a 40-year-old Maoist cult they had never heard of and could have no responsibility for. And second, because even at that early stage the story was starting to unravel, so the headline had all the signs of a hostage to fortune.

It has since emerged that the ‘slaves’ who were ‘rescued’ by police and the Freedom charity seem to have had the, er, freedom to walk the streets pretty much as they pleased. One of them even wrote 500 letters to the bloke next door, while another neighbour spoke of the youngest ‘slave’ knitting him a jumper and inviting him into the kitchen for a piece of toast. [MC]

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