Gangmaster guilty of exploiting vulnerable workers picking sweetcorn fined more than £10,000

A Southampton-based gangmaster has been fined more than £10,000 for intentionally obstructing an officer of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA).

Jagjit Singh was sentenced on 22 March at Southampton Magistrates Court and at the time of the offence he was running the gangmaster business Saphire Trading, supplying workers for sweetcorn picking.

He was sentenced to complete 200 hours of unpaid work as part of a 12-month community order and ordered to pay costs of £10,902.59 within six weeks.

While under investigation by the GLA, Singh made it difficult for it to investigate his case - initially denying that he provided accommodation to his workers. However, he eventually provided a redacted list of properties and after a full list was demanded from him the GLA established that Singh was housing Polish workers in a property in Southampton deemed too dangerous for human habitation.

The GLA investigation also uncovered persistent and systematic exploitation of vulnerable workers and revoked his licence shortly after the investigation was complete.

GLA chairman Paul Whitehouse said: "Mr Singh made blatant attempts to mislead the GLA and hide the exploitation of his workers. He has not only lost his licence but faces significant costs and will have to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.

"My officers quite rightly do not take the gangmaster's word at face value. They always investigate thoroughly and are used to uncovering the lies regularly used to hide the worst cases of exploitation."

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