16 July 1999

Over 100 caught in Gangmaster swoop

OPERATION Gangmaster, the governments scheme to clamp down on illegal workers and benefits fraudsters, netted more than 100 people during a swoop on three Lincs salad growing units this week.

The raids involved police officers and investigators from MAFF and the governments immigration and benefits agencies.

Of the 195 people interviewed, 14 were illegal immigrants, while 43 were found to be involved in benefit fraud. A MAFF spokeswoman for Operation Gangmaster added that another 55 did not register on any government computer system, meaning they were not paying national insurance.

None of the gangmasters who employed the workers was on site when the investigations took place. The MAFF spokeswoman said they would now be traced and questioned.

Decisions on legal action against both gangmasters and workers would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, she added.