The chicken catchers were denied adequate facilities to wash, rest, eat and drink ©123RF
The chicken catchers were denied adequate facilities to wash, rest, eat and drink ©123RF

Gangmasters' £1m payout over trafficked chicken catchers

20 December 2016

Six trafficked workers have been awarded a “substantial” compensation payout following a groundbreaking modern slavery case.

DJ Houghton Catching Services and two named defendants, company secretary Jacqueline Judge and director Darrell Houghton, have agreed to pay the claimants an undisclosed sum after the High Court found them liable for breaking gangmaster licensing rules.

This was the first time a British company had been taken to the High Court for abuses against victims of human trafficking, Leigh Day, the claimant’s law firm, has said.

Leigh Day would not reveal the compensation figure, but said DJ Houghton would be paying in excess of £1m in compensation and costs.

In June, Judge Supperstone found the defendants liable for failing to pay the claimants the minimum wage, unlawfully deducting from their wages and failing to provide adequate facilities to wash, rest, eat and drink.

Also settled out of court were a number of outstanding claims, including for loss and distress as a result of alleged intimidation, abuse and psychiatric and physical injuries.

“Certainly the bill that the Houghtons are facing [including their own legal costs] is more than £1m,” said Shanta Martin, partner at Leigh Day who represented the workers.

“We are being cautions about saying exactly how much our clients received because we want to prevent them from being the subject of unsavoury attention. But it’s a very substantial amount.”

The law firm is also representing another 10 workers who have outstanding claims against DJ Houghton. These claimants came forward after proceedings for the initial six had started.

There is also an outstanding claim by the initial six workers against the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), which is accused of negligence and failing in its obligations under the Human Rights Act. Court proceedings are expected to start in March. 

The GLA declined to comment as the case is still ongoing.

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