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Source : 21/09/1986 Sunday Mirror

The man with the manic eyes moved closer. Lips pursed in fury, he prodded me with his finger and demanded: 'Where have you been?'

I froze and he raged on. 'You weren't at the prayer meeting were you?'

It was my second day at New Creation Hall, posing as Sister Deborah, a new recruit to the Jesus Fellowship. And I had committed a wicked 'crime.'

I had slipped away from a marathon all-day prayer session to phone my mother from a call box in the nearby Old Wharf Inn at Bugbrooke, Northamptonshire.

Now I faced the wrath of the Elders, Noel Stanton's henchmen who rule in the community houses.

It was a Brother, previously a kind, friendly father figure who was delegated to show me the error of my ways.

He acted as inquisitor, instilling fear and guilt into me for my innocent act.

'I know where you've been, don't deny it, We had you watched,' he told me.

'You sneaked out of the meeting to go to the pub. We don't allow that.'

He then revealed that two Sisters had been detailed to follow me and spy on my every movement.

'We saw you leave. You were away for over an hour. We saw you walking down the road and into the pub where you had a drink.'

'Alcohol - the devil's brew. You disgust me.'

Suddenly his angry tone calmed. 'If you stay with us, you will attend all the prayer meetings. We don't tolerate back-sliders.'

A back-slider to the Jesus People is a failure. Someone who has fallen into what the brother called 'the wicked ways of the world' after becoming involved in the cult.

'Do you not want the Lord to come into your life? Don't you want to be saved?'

His piercing stare un-nerved me and I became visibly upset.

'You don't come here and behave like you normally do on the outside,' he said. 'We don't accept that.'

'You live how we do. And follow our rules.'

On entering New Creation Hall I had asked what the rules were.

I was told: 'We don't have rules. We all live together as a community.'

Now I had discovered it was not until you break one of the cult's fearful rules that you find out they exist.

'You have missed part of a valuable meeting,' said the brother. 'Noel has been in touch with the Lord and is telling us what he said.'

'We should be grateful. What do you do? Sneak out to the pub, that's what. You must stay now until the end of the night.'

There was no choice. Immediately my minders - two watchful Sisters - sat on either side of me until the early hours when the meeting finally ended.

In the four days I stayed at New Creation Hall, I was not left alone for more than 10 minutes and constantly bombarded with stories of how I could be saved.

Nearly 100 men, women and children live together in the old village rectory they have bought for more than £100,000.

Drinking, smoking, television and sex are banned.

Married couples sleep in separate beds. I was told several times by an Elder: 'Sex is inspired by the devil.' Children within the community go to outside schools but have little else to do with their classmates from normal family backgrounds.

They never invite other youngsters back to the hall.

Women are totally subservient to the men. They all wear smocks with their hair loose - trousers and make-up are forbidden.

To see the Jesus People pray is frightening. They wail and go into a trace-like state.

Their chants reach a crescendo as 'Svengali' Stanton murmurs and whips them up into a frenzy.

A young man beside me shook and began jumping in the air yelling: 'Jesus, Jesus.'

When most of them reached fever pitch Stanton brings them down saying: 'Beloved can ya hear me. Beloved can ya hear me.'

He then goes into more Biblical quotes in a slow drawl holding a microphone close to his mouth.

An Elder told me earnestly: 'The Jesus People can perform miracles. We can cure cancer victims, arthritis and we even got the paralysed to walk.'

One evening, as we sat down to a meal of whole-meal mushroom quiche. I finally discovered just how cut off from the outside world Stanton's followers are.

It was Friday - a big night for Dynasty fans.

'I love those outfits Alexis and Krystle wear' I said. The Jesus People at the table looked at me like I'd just had a fit.

'Yeah, and Blakes in trouble.'

Not only had they never heard of television's top soaps, even the Chernobyl disaster had totally passed them by.

'But you must have heard of Eastenders, Dirty Den…What about Wham?'.

'What's that. No don't know anything about that.' They said, all wearing the same blank expression.