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On UK Anti-Slavery Day modern slavery lawyer joins calls for greater awareness

Shanta Martin joins calls for better public awareness of modern day slavery, following research showing the majority of the public would not be able to recognise the key signs

Anti-slavery day

18 October 2016

The lawyer who brought the first ‘modern slavery’ legal case against a UK company in the High Court has joined calls for better public awareness of modern day slavery, following research showing the majority of the public would not be able to recognise the key signs.
Shanta Martin, partner at law firm, Leigh Day, represents six Lithuanian men who were trafficked to the UK and who in June 2016 won a large part of their claim for compensation for labour exploitation by the British company that employed them, DJ Houghton Catching Services Ltd. Since proceedings were first issued, a further 10 men have come forward and issued proceedings against the company, as well as the director, Darrell Houghton, and company secretary, Jacqueline Judge.

The company was condemned as “the worst UK gangmaster ever” by the public body tasked with protecting agricultural workers from labour exploitation, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA), which the claimants criticise for not effectively acting quickly enough once concerns were raised.
Today’s research to mark Anti-Slavery Day was conducted by the University of Hull at and found that 55% of people did not know how to spot if someone was being held as a slave. Additionally, one-third of people did not know slavery affects men and children as well as women.
Shanta Martin, of Leigh Day, said: “While slavery may often be hidden, there can be critical indicators that the crime is being committed – whether that is occurring next door or at your workplace. It is important that people are vigilant and report any suspicions of modern day slavery to the police.”
Some of the signs which may indicate a person is being held in slavery include travelling at unusual times, being unfamiliar with their surroundings, having no identification documents and showing signs of physical or emotional abuse.
The Home Office estimates around 13,000 people are victims of in slavery in the UK. This can include people being forced to work in large industries, those trapped working as domestic servants in private homes and people trafficked for sexual exploitation.
The case against DJ Houghton is continuing in the High Court. A hearing is set down for February 2017 to determine the amount of compensation to be awarded following the judgment in respect of wages in June 2016. All other claims including in respect of personal injuries and harassment will be set down for trial in December 2016.

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