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Six Trafficked Chicken Catchers Are Suing the 'Worst Gangmaster Ever'

The men claim they were beaten, starved, and denied sleep by Darrell Houghton and Jacqueline Judge.

by Carlton Férment
Aug 10 2015, 4:45pm

Jacqueline Judge (left) and Darrell Houghton, accused of being gangmasters who exploited trafficked Lithuanians. Photo via Kent Online

Read: A New Crowdfunding Platform Helps Human Trafficking Victims Come Home

Six Lithuanian migrants who worked as chicken catchers in Kent are suing their former gangmasters.

DJ Houghton, a company operated by Darrell Houghton and Jacqueline Judge in Maidstone, was shut down after police raids in 2012 in which a handful of suspected human trafficking victims were liberated. Six of the 30 or so workers, who spoke exclusively to the Guardian, said that they were suing DJ Houghton because they were abused while working there—abuses that they said included being forced to defecate in plastic bags, getting so hungry they resorted to eating raw eggs, being denied sleep, getting attacked with fighting dogs... that kind of thing.

They also claim that they were assaulted by a hired "enforcer," Edikas Mankevicius, who currently has a warrant out for his arrest. The workers say they were made to work eight-hour back-to-back shifts at different farms, and that sometimes their payment was withheld.

Before its closure, DJ Houghton supplied eggs to Noble Foods, the UK's largest egg company and Conservative party donors.

Leigh Day, the solicitors representing the victims, claim that never before has a charge relating to modern slavery been brought against a UK corporation.

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