Anti-Semitic cult may have subjected Jeremiah Duggan to ‘mental violence’ before his death
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
A Golders Green student who died in an apparent suicide in Germany had fallen under the influence of an extreme right-wing anti-Semitic cult which placed its members under “significant psychological pressure”, an inquest has heard.
Jeremiah Duggan was found dead on a motorway near to Wiesbaden on March 27, 2003, after he attended a youth conference in the city hosted by the extremist group LaRouche.
German police said his death was suicide after witnesses claimed they saw Jeremiah try to jump out in front of several cars on the morning of his death.
But a new UK inquest at Barnet Coroner’s Court heard that 22-year-old Jeremiah had begun to question the ideology of the LaRouche group after being exposed to a gruelling schedule at the conference, with students attending hours of meetings, lectures, one-on-one sessions and seminars.
Catherine Picard, former French MP and cult expert, today told the inquest that Jeremiah might have been “under the influence or control” of LaRouche, which was described as “a cult” which is “apparently left-wing, masking extreme right-wing speech”.
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Ms Picard, president of French anti-cult organisation UNADFI, said Jeremiah would have been subject to a process of “infantilisation” that caused “complete confusion” and that if he had questioned LaRouche’s ideas it would have left him exposed to “psychological violence”.
She told the inquest: “The testimony gathered by UNADFI confirmed that Jeremiah Duggan might have been under the influence or control of the organisation LaRouche, which exploited his vulnerability due to geographical isolation in Germany without members of his family and girlfriend, and played on a potential loss of bearings.”
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She continued: “Members of this organisation undergo significant psychological pressure. Part of this pressure is repetitive conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic discourse that overtime can destabilise.”
Coroner Andrew Walker asked Ms Picard if knowledge of Mr Duggan’s British and Jewish identity in the organisation would cause a problem.
Speaking through a translator, she replied: “Yes, you could say so, because it would cause suspicion about his integrity, commitment and his allegiance to LaRouche.”
The court heard that LaRouche may have turned against Jeremiah and believed he was a spy because of suspicion about his “integrity, commitment and allegiance” to LaRouche.
It was said the organisation believed Jeremiah was linked to the Tavistock Clinic in Hampstead, which LaRouche has long considered with animosity.
Tavistock is a clinic Jeremiah had attended for counselling after his parents’ divorce.
She said along with being Jewish and British this may have led the organisation to suspect his loyalty.
Anthony Metzer QC, representing the Duggan family, said: “What we submit is that Jeremiah Duggan was sucked into this movement on the pretext that it was a leftist movement. He was sucked in. He revealed himself as a British Jew who has been to the Tavistock and was then rejected by the movement who saw him as a spy. As a result action might have been taken.”
Mrs Picard was also asked to analyse 30 pages of notes made by Jeremiah at the LaRouche youth conference he attended before his death.
She said it showed that Jeremiah was an intellectually structured person at the start of the conference.
She said: “Jeremiah was a good student, somebody who was intellectually very structured. When you see the total of all these notes that he’s written up to this last page you see the destructuralisation of the way he thinks.”
She continued: “It’s almost like an infantilisation of the person. It’s the feeling that somebody that did used to have the ability to reason, he would have felt completely overwhelmed by all the things he’d been told over these few days to the point that it no longer made any sense.”
She added: “He would mostly have been through a sort of psychological violence; I can’t answer on the physical side, but there would certainly have been a mental violence towards him.”
The inquest continues.