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

Chicken flock. Credit: Wikicommons

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20 December 2016

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

Author: Felicity Lawrence, Guardian (UK)

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.

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20 December 2016

Joy for trafficked workers, while 'UK's Worst Gangmaster' faces mounting legal bills

Author: Leigh Day (UK)

Leigh Day today announced it has achieved substantial compensation for the first claimants to ever bring a High Court case against a British company in relation to modern slavery.  The legal action...alleges that Kent-based couple, Darrell Houghton and Jacqueline Judge, who ran the company, DJ Houghton Catching Services Limited, had subjected victims of human trafficking to severe labour exploitation.  “Our clients have faced enormous difficulties since they came to the UK thinking they would be earning a decent living for honest work, but found themselves being terribly exploited by a British business,” said Ms Martin.  “Our clients are so pleased to finally be getting not only wages they were owed, but a substantial sum to settle claims alleging physical and psychological abuse.”...In addition to the compensation payable under the settlement, the Houghton defendants have had to pay a very large amount towards their own legal defence costs.  The Houghton defendants are also facing compensation claims from another 10 workers, whose case before the High Court had been stayed pending the outcome of the first six claims...

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