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Four in court on slavery charges

Three brothers and their brother-in-law are set to appear in court charged with enslaving four men found at a travellers' site.

James Connors, 23, Tommy Connors, 26, and Patrick Connors, 19, will appear at Luton Magistrates' Court along with brother-in-law James "Big Jim" Connors, 33.

Bedfordshire Police charged the quartet "with between four and six specimen offences under section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act". They are accused of conspiracy to hold a person in servitude and requiring them to perform forced labour.

The charges followed an investigation by the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire major crime unit and relate to alleged offences against the men at the Greenacres travellers' site in Bedfordshire.

The defendants all live at the site, in Great Billington, Leighton Buzzard, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

A heavily pregnant woman who was arrested alongside the men on Sunday morning was released on bail and will be questioned further after the birth of her child, police said.

Adrian Roberts, head of the CPS Thames and Chiltern complex casework unit, said: "These charges relate to four victims who allege they have been held against their will and forced to live and work like slaves. Police investigations into other offences relating to other potential victims at Greenacres are ongoing, further to the police raid on Sunday."

The raid, which involved more than 200 police officers, followed a long-running investigation by the force which suggested 24 men were being held against their will in squalid conditions at the site and forced to work for no pay.

The men were taken from the site to a medical centre. Police said they were mostly from English and eastern European backgrounds. A Bedfordshire Police spokesman said that nine people had left the medical centre and had "chosen not to support the police investigation".


From Belfast Telegraph