Jury begins deliberations in trial on servitude and forced labour charges

Tue, Jul 3, 2012, 01:00

The jury in the trial in England of seven members of an Irish Traveller family charged with servitude and forced labour is to begin its deliberations today, writes MARK HENNESSY, London Editor.

The seven were arrested and later charged after a high-profile raid by several hundred police officers at a caravan site at Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, on September 11th last year.

Sending the jury out yesterday at Luton Crown Court, Judge Michael Kay summarised the main issues raised during the trial, which began in April.

The seven are Tommy Connors snr; his sons, Johnny (28), Tommy jnr (26), Patrick (20) and James (24); his daughter Josie, and her husband, James John (34).

Eleven men who had stayed, one for up to 15 years, at caravan sites occupied by the Connors gave evidence during the trial. They cannot be named by order of the judge.

Some of the defence teams argued during the trial that the Connors had been subjected to a police inquiry motivated by racism.

The prosecutions were taken on the back of legislation outlawing slavery, servitude and forced labour passed by the Houses of Parliament in 2009 but which came into law a year later.