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The BBC's Charles Scanlon
"Sceptical about reports that she had become involved with a cult"
 real 28k

Lucie's father Tim Blackman
"The Police are starting with a blank sheet of paper"
 real 28k

Friday, 14 July, 2000, 10:22 GMT 11:22 UK
Cook's plea to find missing hostess
Tim Blackman arrives in Tokyo
Tim Blackman is in Tokyo seeking his daughter
The Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, has appealed to the Japanese people for help in finding a former British Airways hostess feared abducted by a religious cult.

His plea for help came in Tokyo after talks with the family of the missing 21-year-old Lucie Blackman, who vanished 14 days ago following a meeting with a work contact.

Mr Cook said: "I would like to take this opportunity to appeal to members of the public in Japan who are friends of Britain, if they have any information that could help to come forward and share that with the police and the Blackman family."

Lucie's father, Tim Blackman, has urged the Japanese media to help find his daughter, who had been working as a bar hostess at a club in the Roppongi district.

Speaking from the British ambassador's residence in Tokyo, Mr Cook said he received good co-operation from the Japanese authorities, who have reportedly received about 20 calls on Lucie since a televised appeal.
Lucie Blackman
Lucie Blackman has not been seen since going out with a customer

Tim Blackman, a property developer from Ryde, Isle of Wight, flew to Tokyo this week to join his younger daughter Sophie, 20, in the search for Lucie.

He said he knew nothing about the man his daughter had been with on the day she disappeared, and he expressed scepticism about reports that she had become involved with a religious cult.

"Lucie is a Roman Catholic, and whilst she wasn't a great practising Roman Catholic, she took not a large interest in religion generally," he told BBC Radio 4.

"The thought that she may have suddenly become interested in a religious cult over a Saturday afternoon is very unlikely," he added.

A lot of British girls, and girls from all over the world work in these bars

Sophie Blackman

Mr Blackman confirmed that Lucie, who was working as a nightclub hostess, did have debts but doubted they were as much as 6,000 as has been reported.

Tokyo police have printed 30,000 posters appealing for information about Lucie, who was reported missing by her friend Louise Phillips after she failed to return from a night out with one of the club customers two days earlier.

Police are also interviewing customers from the nightclub district.

Anonymous call

Miss Phillips received a call on her mobile from an anonymous man who revealed personal details about her friend, including the fact that she had a 6,000 credit card debt.

The caller said she was "going on to a better life" to join a "newly-risen religion", as cults are known in Japan.

The caller added that the cult would pay her credit card debt.
Tim Blackman
Tim Blackman: Appeal made on Japanese TV

Sophie Blackman, who shares a home with her sister in Sevenoaks, Kent, said Lucie meant the world to her.

She described Lucie as "intelligent and streetwise".

"A lot of British girls and girls from all over the world work in these bars, it's club promotion," she said.

"If it was considered safe and she was willing she would take them out for dinner, she would bring them back to the club to do karaoke and have drinks.

"It was a very safe environment."

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See also:

11 Jul 00 | UK
Deprogramming the faithful
20 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Cult apologises for death gas attack
01 Mar 00 | Asia-Pacific
Japan's computers hit by cult fears
31 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
Stricter surveillance for Japanese cult
26 Dec 98 | Asia-Pacific
Doomsday cult revival
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