Three men have been arrested after a man’s body was found in woodland in Essex.

It is suspected that the deceased – in his 40s – and a woman in her 30s were “taken against their will in a vehicle” in north London on Thursday evening, Scotland Yard said.

Despite the body being found in Essex, the Met Police has taken charge of the inquiry because it is believed the man died in Greater London.

The woman has been found and is “physically unharmed”, officers said. She and the man were known to each other.

The body was found close to Oakwood Hill Industrial Estate in Loughton just before midday on Saturday.

His death is being treated as suspicious, Essex Police said.

Scotland Yard said it was alerted just before 2pm on Friday – getting reports that the man and woman were missing from an address in Enfield, and were last seen the night before.

“Detectives believe the man reported missing is the man found in Loughton,” the Met said in a statement.

“A post-mortem examination and formal identification will take place in due course.”

The three men were arrested in Kent and remain in police custody.

Detective Chief Inspector Kate Kieran, from the Met’s Specialist Crime Directorate, said: “This is a very complex and fast-moving investigation involving multiple units across the (Met), as well as invaluable support from our colleagues in Essex Police.

“While the investigation remains at an early stage, a key line of inquiry is that the man and woman were taken against their will in a vehicle on Thursday night.”

Ms Kieran is urging anyone who was in Ebony Crescent in Enfield on Thursday evening and who may have seen something to get in touch.

Detective Superintendent Rob Kirby, from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “The Met Police will now take the lead on this investigation but we will continue to support them.”

Anyone who has information should call 101, or, to remain anonymous, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.