Man rescued from Irish Travelers work camp denies they were ‘slaves’
Nine of the 24 people ‘saved’ by police claim they were being paid and chose to be there
Nine of the 24 alleged slaves from the Irish Travelers site, in Bedfordshire, have refused to help police with their inquiries. One of the alleged slaves has spoken out insisting the five arrests were complete rubbish.
Following a four-month undercover operation the police raided the Travelers site, arrested five of the Travelers and freed 24 of the alleged slaves. The police said these people were suffering from malnutrition, were in need of medical attention and were being forced to live in unhygienic conditions.
One of the men allegedly rescued by the police said he had been living in a caravan on the Traveler’s plot for several years. The man, who is in his 50s, said he had worked as a paver and had been paid £50 ($80) per day.
He told the Guardian “I think it's all a load of rubbish and they just hate Travelers. Plenty of men who were here wanted to be here and they were getting paid. The police coming in heavy-handed like this is just wrong."
The man said that he had being working with one Traveler family for 15 years. They had provided him with accommodation and work when he had nowhere else to go.
He explained “The police told me I couldn't come back but I told them it was my home and if I wanted to go back I would go back.” He has refused to cooperate with the police investigation.
One of the wives of the arrested Irish Travelers said that the police allegations were “ridiculous”.
She said “The men who were taken were getting paid £30 a day, they had somewhere to live, this is all a load of nonsense."
She continued “Isn't it better that they have a roof over their head?" What are they going to do now – when the police have finished with them they will be homeless. It's up to them how they kept their homes, but they could come and go whenever they pleased. It's complete lies and they are trying to make Travelers look bad. There are two sides to this story."
A police spokesperson said “We are giving help to all of the men, but if they do not want it then obviously we are not forcing them to take it."
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