Runaway aristocrat’s father calls for inquiry into Nigerian cult where she was ‘brainwashed’

An aristocrat whose estranged daughter is missing with her rapist partner and their newborn baby has called for police to investigate her links with a Nigerian cult church following claims revealed by the The Independent that she was “brainwashed” there.

In a fresh appeal, Napier Marten has urged officers to probe Constance Marten’s time at the Synagogue, Church of All Nations in Lagos, where she lived for six months under the rule of TB Joshua, a “phoney prophet” who is alleged to have abused his “disciples”.

Mr Marten’s new plea came after The Independent spoke to a former member of the church who claims those who lived at the church were damaged by the experience. It was claimed that:

Mr Marten, a film and music producer who was a page to the Queen, said he had “long-held suspicions” about the church since his daughter’s return.

He said that the experiences appear to have been a “trigger” in what has happened to Ms Marten, saying it set up “a pattern of behaviour exposing her to easy manipulation”. Ms Marten, who is estranged from her family, has been on the run with her rapist partner Mark Gordon and their newborn baby since January 5.

Mr Marten said: “Following the latest revelation in The Independent about how Constance was influenced by a Nigerian cult leader and suffered severely as a result, I am compelled to say that this substantiates long-held suspicions had since she returned from Lagos.

“Constance’s time there at the hands of the so-called Rev. TB Joshua was bizarre and damaging in the extreme.

“I am appalled that she should have been there for five, maybe six months when there were opportunities for her to have escaped.”

Among the claims of cult behaviour were that making friends was punished and disciples were made to sleep in rooms with lights on.

Mr Marten said: “The stories of the abuse meted out by Joshua are shocking and heart-rending. I sincerely hope the police can now investigate potential links between any institution involved in making Constance and others suffer at the hands of the phoney prophet in his Lagos Synagogue.

“These experiences appear to have been a trigger in so much of what has happened to harm Constance in recent years, setting up a pattern of behaviour exposing her to easy manipulation.”

Ms Marten, 35, who was raised in Crichel House, a 17th century Georgian mansion, has been travelling around the UK with Gordon by taxi since their car was found burning on the M61 in Bolton, Greater Manchester five weeks ago. Most of their possessions were destroyed when the vehicle caught fire but they have a substantial amount of cash, allowing them to live off-grid, police said.

They are now thought to be staying in a tent in Sussex. Police fear for the safety of their baby, who is thought not to have had medical treatment since its birth at the start of January.

Mr Marten thanked the police for their work so far, adding: “I cannot begin to comprehend the trauma to which Constance and others have been subjected. My heart goes out to her and them. I am grateful to the police for their continued efforts to locate Constance and her baby, and for following all avenues of inquiry.”

Gordon was jailed in the late 1980s in Florida, US, after raping and assaulting a woman when he was 14. After serving a 20-year sentence he was deported back to the UK in 2010.

Mr Marten added: “I remain deeply concerned for Constance, some five weeks after she and her baby went on the run.I just want them to be safe. I urge Constance once more, to find the courage to turn herself into the police.

“The only urgency is to know she and the baby are safe. I have been so touched by the hundreds of messages of support and want to thank everyone for their great kindness.”

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