As the police continue to interview 15 of the people rescued from an Irish Traveler’s site in Bedfordshire a former slave has come forward to tell his story.
Last Sunday the police raided the Bedfordshire site and rescued 24 alleged slaves. Nine of them refused to admit they were being held against their will and forced to work for little or no money.
Fifteen of those who had been held by the Travelers’ are now helping police with their inquiries.
Four men, Brothers Jimmy, Tommy and Patrick Connors and brother-in-law James Connors, and one woman were arrested last weekend. The four men have already appeared in court this week on charges of slavery.
Many are alleging that the Irish Travelers have merely been helping those who are down and out in society by providing them with work and somewhere to live. However Andy Williamson told the Daily Mail, how he was beaten, locked up and had his shoes stolen by a family of Travelers. The same family then sold him for $16,000 (£10,000) because he was such a good worker.
Williamson served time in prison and was recruited in 2003 when he was released. At first he was given a bed, food and cigarettes but he ended up being enslaved.
He said “People are probably surprised to hear that slavery still exists in this modern day, but it does. There are nasty, horrible people out there who sell people like they sell cars.
“If they caught you they would beat you up, lock you up, take your shoes from you and stop feeding you. It was like living in a nightmare.”
Now in his 40s Williamson, who now lives in Wales, said that hearing the news about the site in Bedfordshire brought the memories flooding back.
He said “After getting out of prison I was picked up by a family in Tamworth and sold to a family in Brighton.
“In Brighton there are a lot of people who sleep on the beach at night and these travelers who I worked for would go out to the beach in the early hours of the morning and bring them back, chucking them into the shed with me and the chickens.
“Selling people is a big and nasty business, it is global, I was once sold from one gypsy family to another for £10,000 because I was a good worker.
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“I would do block paving, guttering, anything really, but they would hardly pay me a thing, maybe £10 a day and a bag of chips at night.
“Other people, who were not as good workers, would be sold for far less, maybe £500, and I was put in charge of looking after some of those people.
“The family who owned me at the time had gone out so I legged it and rang the police. I never went back to the travelers and haven't seen them since.”
The Connors men and woman, responsible for those slaves rescued last week, have been formally accused of torturing, beating, punching and humiliating four homeless men at their caravan site home in Bedfordshire and making them carry out hard labor, 'in the place of industrial machines', for no pay.