University lecturer arrested ‘for keeping builder as slave in garden shed for four years’

The alleged victim claims he was forced to work in return for out-of-date food

Peter Stubley
Friday 02 November 2018 10:50 GMT
Arrests made by GLAA after man found ‘living in shed’ in Hampshire for four years

A university lecturer and her husband have been arrested on suspicion of keeping a Polish builder as a slave in their garden shed for four years.

Pritpal Binning, 56, and husband Palvinder Binning, 54, allegedly forced the man to work on their property in Hampshire in exchange for food.

The alleged victim, aged in his 40s, told investigators he had been sleeping on a plastic sun lounger in the building. He said his kitchen consisted of a fridge and a barbecue, and he had no flushing toilet.

He was referred to the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) following a tip-off from staff at an NHS walk-in-centre in Southampton.

Officers raided the property in Chilworth on Tuesday, 30 October, and arrested the couple on suspicion of modern slavery offences.

“In the 21st century, no-one should be forced to live in such degrading and disgusting conditions,” said GLAA senior investigating officer Tony Byrne.

“Following the two arrests we made, our investigation is ongoing as we examine and assess the evidence we collected from the property.

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Mrs Binning, a lecturer in health sciences at the University of Southampton, and her husband, have been released under investigation pending further enquiries.

The alleged victim has been accepted into the government’s national referral mechanism to support victims of modern slavery and human trafficking.

Mr Byrne praised the NHS staff who reported their concerns.

“They spotted the signs he was vulnerable, he wasn’t responding as expected, and they reported findings to us,” he said.

Inside the freezing ‘shed’ at the bottom of the garden in Chilworth

“There’s a large amount of building work being undertaken which corroborates what victim had said.

“There’s no sanitary conditions, no toilet, there’s no bedding. It’s poor conditions that that individual had been living in for the last four years.”

He added: “It’s really important that people get in touch if they believe someone is being exploited. By contacting us, we can ensure that some of the most vulnerable people in society are protected and supported.”

Test Valley district commander, chief inspector Kory Thorne said: “Instances of modern day slavery in the Test Valley are rare.

“However, when information is received suggesting someone is being subjected to modern day slavery we will work with partner agencies to investigate and where necessary take action against those people responsible.”

The latest GLAA operation follows the arrest of a 79-year-old British man earlier this month after another alleged victim claimed he had lived in a six-foot shed in Cumbria for the last 40 years.

Anyone who suspects someone is being exploited should contact the GLAA’s intelligence team on 0800 4320804 or email intelligence@gla.gov.uk.

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