TV story of bed factory slave shame

THE undercover operation which exposed human trafficking in Ravensthorpe is to be revealed tonight (Friday).

Investigative reporter Darragh MacIntyre presents a BBC2 TV documentary called Britain’s Secret Slavery Business (10pm).

He tells the story of how the charity Hope for Justice helped bring down disgraced bed tycoon Mohammed Rafiq.

The anti-slavery group was tipped off about working conditions at Rafiq’s Kozee Sleep premises.

Hope for Justice put the Low Mill Lane factory under surveillance and made contact with some of the workers. Eventually, a house in Bradford, where scores of Hungarian men were living, was identified.

Eight men fled with the charity’s help, though a first meeting point had to be abandoned due to fears that gangmasters were on to them.

They were later rescued from a supermarket car park after hiding at night behind recyling bins and bushes.

Rafiq, 60, of Staincliffe, became the first company boss in the UK to be convicted of human trafficking offences.

He was jailed last month for two years and three months, having denied the charges at Leeds Crown Court.

One of the victims, who talked to Mr MacIntrye under an assumed name, said he was promised earnings of £1,000 a month.

Instead he was paid less than £2 a day, held captive and had threats made against his family if he tried to leave.

Men were given some food and tobacco while in some cases passports were confiscated.

They slept in dingy, overcrowded houses with mattresses in every room. The buildings were filthy and sometimes rat-infested.

At weekends, the men worked for free doing house renovations, painting and gardening from 9am until 7pm.

This was after working 15 or 16 hours a day at Kozee Sleep through the week.

The victim, known only as “Daniel”, said of his house: “There were 14 sharing one bathroom and one toilet.

“All cooking was done in one pot. It was dirty, crowded and it stank. They said they knew where my family lived and they could get hold of them.”

Three years after his rescue, Daniel has still not told his family exactly what happened to him due to his shame.

The full story also features how Kozee Sleep duped retailers including John Lewis and Next.

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