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British Kidnap Denied By Cult

A NEWCASTLE religious cult leader scoffed at suggestions yesterday that a British teenager had been `kidnapped' by his followers and kept at a secret location overseas.

Dave McKay, 55, the leader of the Jesus Christians, denied that 16-year-old Bobby Kelly was being held against his will. He described the British Government's recent actions over the matter as `panic'.

British police have issued a warrant for the arrest of the cult's Australian members in England and gagged Mr McKay, of Mayfield, from speaking in the UK.

The fringe cult leader alleged at his Maitland Rd flat yesterday that he was being wrongly portrayed as a potentially dangerous figure.

`The British High Court injunction bans the British media from reporting any comments by Bobby or my movement to deny us a platform,' he said.

`They did the same for Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Fein, and that ban went on for years.

`I believe that injunction has now been extended but the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is fighting to get it dropped.

`No-one in Britain can hear our side of the story.'

Mr McKay claimed that the issue seemed to have become virtually a battle between his cult and and a religious pastor in Essex.

`One of the pastor's flock, one of his sheep, has been ripped off and we're seen as the sheep stealer,' Mr McKay said.

`But he joined us of his own accord.

`Bobby is not a runaway boy and he's about eight years older than the photograph now circulated about him shows.'

Mr McKay said his movement would not surrender Bobby because he would be seized and possibly held for two years until he turned 18.

Mr McKay alleged the teenager would be `brainwashed' by English anti-cult deprogrammers if surrendered. The British manhunt for Bobby began about two weeks ago.

Since then, London's High Court has made Bobby Kelly a ward of the court.

Mr McKay admitted coaching Bobby Kelly on his answers in e-mail interviews but only to protect Bobby's own interests.

In Britain, Bobby's grandmother told reporters her grandson sounded like a stranger when they last spoke on the telephone.

Mr McKay said Bobby had now left the company of two cult members who police were seeking and was staying with friends. He indicated this might be in Germany.

Mr McKay said ammunition being used against him was that he was a former member of the controversial Children of God sect which became notorious for its sex scandals.

`Yes, I was a member but only briefly and that was 25 years ago. I left when it started to go off the rails,' he said.

`The sex issue was the primary reason I left.'

Mr McKay said he was yet to be contacted by Australian police.

The Jesus Christians movement has about 18 members worldwide including seven in Australia.

He said people wrongly associated them with events such as Jonestown and Waco because of the word cult.

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