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Judge Bans Cult Boy's Interviews

A judge yesterday banned the publication of interviews with missing teenager Bobby Kelly because of fears that his words are being controlled by the religious cult he has joined.

The 16-year-old left his home in Essex three weeks ago after meeting a member of the obscure Jesus Christians group.

His family fears the cult, which is based in Australia, is using Bobby as a means of generating publicity.

His mother Jessica, who lives in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, said: 'He is a different person. He used to be open and easy to talk to, but he became quiet and just stared as though transfixed.' Ian Howarth, of the Cult Information Centre, said it was important Bobby's words were stifled because members of such groups would say whatever they were told to, including claims about their upbringing.

'If Bobby did say such things and later goes back to his family, it would add to all the other problems he'd have to overcome when being counselled back to reality,' he said.

Mr Howarth, who has 21 years' experience studying cults, said the Jesus Christians, who have only a handful of members in this country, were a 'nomadic' organisation with no HQ.

Cult leader David Mackay, who founded the Jesus Christians in 1981, at first denied Bobby was with his members. But on Monday he said he was willing to return him to his family in exchange for continued access. He refused to disclose Bobby's whereabouts other than that he is England.

The BBC launched an appeal against the ruling yesterday but the hearing was adjourned until tomorrow.

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