Gangmaster case due to be heard today

A COURT case involving around 20 dairy farmers accused of employing labour from an unlicensed provider is due to be heard at Swindon Magistrates Court today (Friday, May 20).

The case, which involves some of the biggest names in the dairy industry, including NFU vice-president Gwyn Jones, has already been adjourned twice

The cases are all linked to a long-running investigation by the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) into Wiltshire-based labour provider Marden Management.

The GLA began its investigation into the company last spring after discovering it did not have a GLA licence, as required by companies supplying labour in the farming industry. The GLA has also investigated the rates of pay received by workers supplied by Marden.

More than 50 farmers and organisations who hired labour from the company were questioned in the initial stages of the investigation.

Twenty-one of those, also including the University of Reading, were summonsed to appear in court, initially in February and then, after that hearing was adjourned, in March. Following a second adjournment the case was rescheduled for today.

In a statement earlier this year, the GLA said it was conducting a ‘major inquiry into labour supply, potential exploitation of workers and offences within the dairy industry’.

The statement added that the unlicensed supply of labour and the use of an unlicensed gangmaster are both criminal offences under the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act 2004.

In a statement last year, Marden Management managing director Chris Blakeney, who is not among those charged, said the company had made an innocent mistake.

“Marden has not previously had a GLA licence as, having taken advice, our interpretation of the exclusion clauses when the GLA legislation was first introduced led us to believe that our business was exempt,” he said.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Presumably, Mr Blakeney took proper, qualified legal advice which led him to believe his business was exempt from the need to have a GLA licence and your article says he is not amongst those charged. Good.
    But Our Civil Service never miss an opportunity to interpret the law to someone's disadvantage and to bring in fines or fees in lieu of court proceedings. The more defendants they can implicate and charge the easier it is for them to justify their existence. It's all about raising revenue. But the consequences are that we burden industry after industry with unsustainable costs and taxes and make them non-viable. We export the jobs and the ability to create wealth across the Channel to our fellow members of the EU who laugh at the lack of business acumen amongst our politicians and civil servants. These people are kicking us back down a slippery slope which we will never get back up. Our debt increases by £400 million a day: we are still going in the wrong direction. Trying to collect fines off these dairy farmers is feeding the people on the seed corn; the Ultimate Sin. Who will rid us of these Turbulent Priests?

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