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Migrant workers exploited for leeks.

MIGRANT workers who picked leeks sold to Tesco and Waitrose were treated like "slaves" by the gang who recruited them, a court heard.

The gang promised the eastern Europeans wages and accommodation but when they arrived in the UK they were put to work in harsh conditions, often beaten or threatened, and given "inhuman" accommodation, Northampton Crown Court heard.

Gurdip Singh Somal, his wife Manjinder Kaur Somal, Jujhar Singh, Santokh Singh Nizzar, Varinder Singh, Fateh Singh Bal and Ania Jemiolo all deny conspiracy to exploit migrant workers between 2004 and 2008.

Prosecutor Jonathan Kirk QC told the court Gurdip Somal ran the multimillion-pound business, recruiting workers to harvest leeks in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Cambridgeshire.

He said: "They cruelly mistreated and criminally exploited these migrant workers.

"The workers came here on the promise of good wages, conditions and accommodation.

"When they arrived they were put to work in the leek fields, where many were intimidated, threatened and beaten."

He said workers were herded by a harvesting machine, often knocked to the ground and cut by the knives they used to trim leeks.

They suffered skin infections from acid in the leeks and were forced to live in squalor - in one case more than 20 workers lived in a three-bedroom house with a toilet that did not work, the court heard.

The case has been adjourned until Monday.

* WICKED: Police pictures of skin infections said to be from acid in leeks picked for a gang who treated them like slaves

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WICKED: Police pictures of skin infections said to be from acid in leeks picked for a gang who treated them like "slaves"
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Dec 8, 2010
Words:272
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