A court in the UK has ruled in the favour of six Lithuanian men who claimed they were being held in a form of 'modern slavery' by a Maidstone-based chicken-catching business called DJ Houghton Catching Services Limited.

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The case made headlines in the UK in 2015 when the men described being debt-bonded into unhygienic and abusive conditions. Unable to speak English, they depended on the Lithuanian man handling them, who would allegedly beat them or loose guard dogs in their home.

The Lithuanian men roped into the business were forced to wrangle chickens on chicken farms, which was done in the dark to reduce the chickens' stress before being slaughtered. The men would be covered in scratches, chicken vomit and feces without protective equipment, were only paid for the chickens they caught on the farms they were driven to, and often had to work without sleep or food.

The defendants - DJ Houghton Catching Services Limited and the owners, Jackie Judge and Darrell Houghton – were found guilty of withholding wages, paying below minimum wage, and other abuses. A later hearing will decide on the damages that the defendants face.

As Kent Online reports, Shanta Martin, a partner from law firm Leigh Day who is representing the Lithuanian men, said: "This is the first time the High Court has ruled in favour of victims of trafficking against a British company. It is an extremely important step towards proper compensation for our clients and should be seen as a warning to British companies that they must eradicate all forms of modern slavery from their businesses, whether in the UK or elsewhere."

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