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20 Dec 2016

Felicity Lawrence, Guardian (UK)

Gangmasters agree to pay more than £1m to settle modern slavery claim

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A Kent-based gangmaster couple have agreed to a landmark settlement worth more than £1m in compensation and legal costs for a group of migrants who were trafficked to work on farms producing eggs for high street brands.  The deal reached with six Lithuanian chicken catchers is the first settlement of a claim against a British company in relation to modern slavery, and came after the group became frustrated at the lack of a criminal prosecution.  Ten other claimants are now expected to bring similar cases...The couple agreed to the compensation deal after a high court ruling this year found that they had failed to pay the national minimum wage, had made unlawful deductions from wages and had failed to provide adequate facilities...The Lithuanians were sent to work in supply chains producing premium free range eggs for McDonald’s, Tesco, Asda, M&S and the Sainsbury’s Woodland brand...Laurynas Kelpsa, one of the Lithuanian workers...said he was happy that a civil settlement had finally been reached after four years, although he remained disappointed that the police had not brought charges...Houghtons did not respond to requests for comment. The Guardian understands that it has settled the claims relating to threats and assault without admitting liability.

Part of the following timelines

UK: Victims in first lawsuit over modern slavery & human trafficking against British company win substantial compensation

DJ Houghton lawsuit (re trafficked Lithuanian migrants)