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Field Court barrister acts for local authority in modern slavery case

Francis Wilkinson of Field Court Chambers represented an applicant local authority in a modern slavery case where Romanian Roma children aged 12 to 16 were working in a car wash.

The 12-year-old was ‘married’ to the 25-year-old man managing the car wash. He was charged with offences under the Modern Slavery Act and with her rape.

Field Court said it was necessary as part of the proceedings to consider in particular the habitual residence of the children who had been in England for a substantial time but had not become integrated in a family or social environment here: “they associated exclusively with other Romanian Roma, were not in education or registered with the NHS and did not speak English.” Their existence was ‘invisible’ to any agency.

Following hearings before Mrs Justice Theis and investigations in Romania, the Court found that the children were not habitually resident in the UK and they were returned to Romania, as the local authority had submitted should be the case.

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