"Characterising such a scheme as involving or being analogous to 'slavery' or 'forced labour' seems to me to be a long way from contemporary thinking ...Whether the problems in Miss Reilly's case and Mr Wilson's case were 'merely teething problems' remains to be seen" expounded His Lordship.



As a rebuttal to Foskett’s absurd and perverse judgment, consider:

Lord Stapleton said at 8:53 pm on August 6th, 2012:

There is always the European Court of Human Rights if the right judgement is not reached at the High Court.

Regardless of the confusion over poor communications, it is blatantly obvious people are being forced to work to retain their benefits, which are subsistence entitlements that apply to every citizen.

See Part 2 of Article 4 of the European Convention on Human Rights:

Prohibition of slavery and forced labour

1. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.

2. No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.

3. For the purpose of this Article the term “forced or compulsory labour” shall not include:

(a) any work required to be done in the ordinary course of detention imposed according to the provisions of Article 5 of this Convention or during conditional release from such detention;

(b) any service of a military character or, in case of conscientious objectors in countries where they are recognised, service exacted instead of compulsory military service;

(c) any service exacted in case of an emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the   community;

(d) any work or service which forms part of normal civic obligations.

Link to PDF: http://bit.ly/xAKxhu




6 August 2012 10:56AM Recommend? (798)

‘Let’s see a high court judge stacking shelves in a supermarket for 6 months – for nothing. Then they can speak sensibly about this slave labour scheme.’



6 August 2012 11:03AM Recommend? (843)

‘The bigger story here is 10,000s of sanctions have been deemed illegal. Which for me is the bigger issue. Workfare may be legal, but it’s utterly immoral when private companies exploit the poor labour market for free workers. Driving down wages and overtime for paid staff.

‘The worst part is, Cait Reilly only joined the scheme because she was promised an interview at the end of the 2 weeks. This never materialised. Poundland simply brought in another unemployed person to replace her. The scheme for them was not about providing jobs, it was a short-term free-labour fix.

‘Never mind the fact that the DWP have found (twice) workfare decreases your employability prospects in times of recession and lots of big companies have pulled out of the scheme. Yes, this is a victory for a terrible government scheme. But it reveals the horrible and illegal nature of sanctions which forced many into destitution.

Cait Reilly was also doing worthwhile voluntary work, which she was made to drop since the DWP do not view museums as charity/non-profit organisations. The scheme is illogical and immoral. Especially when the economy is flat-lining.’


The Independent:


  • r3dsub

    ‘Forced labour occurs when an individual is forced to work against his or her will under threat of violence or other punishment for economic exploitation, Mr Justice Foskett is ass, forced labour is illegal under British law and international law, but Mr Justice Foskett believes that is it not and its all about the wording of letters, the workfare programmes are about economic exploitation for private profits. I hope Cait Reilly appeals this decision of Mr Justice Foskett.’


    ‘Really did anyone expect anything different ? An establishment judge (all of them are) rules in favour of the establishment. I mean just to throw people off the scent the judges will rule against the establishment on some matter that’s trivial and unimportant to keep people believing that the judges are truly independent.’


    ‘When you are forced to work for nothing against your will it’s called ‘slavery’. Sod what this Tory judge thinks’ 
  • Avatar
    Leon Carter

    ‘Finally a paper that is not afraid to print the truth. Well Done The Independent’


  • wildejamey

    ‘What a surprise. Anyone with an inkling of the justice system here knows that the courts are the last place to obtain justice against the anti-worker, anti-disadvantaged policies of a right-wing government. 

    ‘Probably most of these judges are members – open or closeted – of the Tory Party themselves.

    ‘I’ve not heard of many left-wing judges. Now if it’s a matter of a free gift of tens of thousands for celebs allegedly “libelled” in the press, that’s entirely different, of course. I don’t know that anyone mentioned “slavery” in the first place.

    ‘This was forced labour and clearly against the principles of the ILO and ECHR. 

    ‘It was all too predictable that this would have to be pursued all the way to the European Court. Even then, the government will use every procedural trick in the book to try and prove the case falls outside their remit. Just as they did in trying for years to defend the indefensible practice of corporal punishment in schools.

    Why does this country always have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the modern world?’

    Black Triangle ‏@blacktriangle1 by twitter:

    The UK judiciary is not doing itself any favours.First http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-14042078 … now http://wp.me/p1B02C-hBK : As ‘impartial’ as the old reactionary on the Bench!

    From Inclusion Scotland on the Judiciary viz. Elaine McDonald: ‘The Ballerina Case’:

    ‘No-one should need reminding that their Lord Justices had previously decided that prisoners in Scotland had been robbed of their human rights by being required to do the toilet in front of other prisoners and then slop out. Yet they chose to set aside Ms McDonald’s immense distress and emotional horror at being required to lie in her own faeces and urine for up to ten hours at a time and substituted their own view that being put in incontinence pads preserved her dignity and privacy! If the law believes that, the law is an ass.’

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Unpaid work scheme ruling at high court could prompt wave of benefit rebates” was written by Shiv Malik, for guardian.co.uk on Monday 6th August 2012 14.47 Europe/London

Tens of thousands of jobseekers have had their benefits stripped unlawfully and are likely to be entitled to a rebate following a high court ruling on Monday, lawyers have said.

In a judicial review, claims by two jobseekers that the government’s back-to-work schemes amounted to “forced labour” were rejected.

They also failed to persuade a judge that the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) had failed to publish enough official information about the schemes for them to be lawful.

However, in a 50-page ruling, Mr Justice Foskett said that a letter sent out by the DWP to a 41-year-old benefit claimant did not conform to its own rules on providing clear information, making his six-month benefit sanction for failing to work unpaid for 26 weeks unlawful.

Lawyers acting for Jamieson Wilson, an unemployed lorry driver who was forced to live on handouts from family and friends after the DWP stripped him of all benefits, say the ruling will affect tens of thousands of jobseekers who have been sanctioned after being sent the same or similar letters and many should therefore be entitled to a rebate.

Following the ruling, the DWP confirmed that it had changed its sanction letters but denied any fault, and said it would be appealing against the judgment and contest any rebate claims.

The DWP said: “We don’t think there’s anything wrong with our letters, and believe they are both clear and concise.

“We will appeal this decision. However, given the judgment we have revised the wording of our standard letters.”

In the written judgment, Foskett ruled that the DWP’s standard letter sent out to Wilson was not sufficiently clear and precise to comply with the governments own regulations concerning benefit sanctions.

“It should not be necessary,” he said, “[for those on the receiving end of a letter to] “ferret around for what for most people would be inaccessible regulations to find out his or her position.”

Declaring Wilson’s eventual six-month benefit sanction following his refusal to participate in what he called “forced labour” unlawful, Foskett said:

“There could be no question of sanctions being validly imposed if no proper notice of the sanction consequences was given.”

The DWP told the Guardian that the same or similar letters have been sent to tens of thousands of benefit claimants but could not yet give exact numbers on how many people they judged to be affected by the ruling.

Foskett also rejected a claim by Cait Reilly, a 23-year-old geology graduate, that a scheme requiring her to work for free at a Poundland discount store breached Article IV of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits forced labour and slavery.

Foskett said that:

“Characterising such a scheme as involving or being analogous to ‘slavery’ or ‘forced labour’ seems to me to be a long way from contemporary thinking”.

Wilson and Reilly, who first contacted the Guardian with her concerns about government schemes last year, had also argued that the government had failed to publish any official information about the schemes so their clients were unable to understand what their real responsibilities were and what they were compelled to do without falling foul of the rules.

During the case the DWP admitted that mistakes had been made in notifying Reilly about the requirements of the Sector Based Work Academy Scheme she was sent on, which meant she had to work unpaid for six weeks included stacking and cleaning shelves in Poundland.

Rejecting the main forced labour allegations, the judge said both the schemes under challenge “are a very long way removed from the kind of colonial exploitation of labour that led to the formulation of Article 4.

“The [human rights] convention is, of course, a living instrument, capable of development to meet modern conditions, and views may reasonably differ about the merits of a scheme that requires individuals to ‘work for their benefits’ as a means of assisting them back into the workplace.”

The judge added: “Whether the problems in Miss Reilly’s case and Mr Wilson’s case were ‘merely teething problems’ remains to be seen.

The DWP said: “We are delighted, although not surprised, that the judge agrees our schemes are not forced labour.

“Comparing our initiatives to slave labour is not only ridiculous but insulting to people around the world facing real oppression.”

She added that the scheme was making a real difference to people’s lives:

 “Those who oppose this process are actually opposed to hard work and they are harming the life chances of unemployed young people who are trying to get on.”

However, the judge also quashed any impression that either of the claimants were “benefit scroungers”.

“In relation to Miss Reilly and to Mr Wilson it is important that it is appreciated that each has been actively looking for work: they have not taken their objections to the overall scheme as a means of avoiding employment and seeking simply to rely on benefits,” he said.

Public Interest Lawyers, representing Wilson and Reilly, said they would also appeal against the ruling to a higher court.

Wilson said: “I am pleased that the DWP’s decision to strip me of my benefits for six months had been found to be unlawful.

“It has been very difficult for me to live without my jobseekers allowance since May. I hope that I and all the thousands of others who have had their benefits unlawfully removed will now be quickly reimbursed.”

PIL solicitor Tessa Gregory said the issuing of unlawful warning letters meant that “tens of thousands of people stripped of their benefits must now be entitled to reimbursement by the DWP”.

PIL added: “Today’s decision should mean that many of those subjected to benefit sanctions will be entitled to reimbursement by the Department of Work and Pensions.

“It is truly extraordinary that the government has found itself in this position by failing to provide basic information to those affected.”

The National Association of Welfare Rights Advisers called on the government to launch an urgent review. It said: “It’s a disgrace that people have had benefits stopped because of misleading information routinely issued by the DWP. The DWP must now urgently review all such cases. Sanctions plunge people into severe hardship and advisers see the harm that sanctions cause to claimants and their families.”

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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3 thoughts on “

  1. Jan Mac says:

    Time to storm the palace gates! Shameful, disgusting country that treats it’s subjects (says it all) this way. We’re hungry and have no cake your majesty!

  2. Humanity2012 says:

    Slave Labour Exploitation was Wrong in the 18th Century in the 19th Century
    and is Wrong Now

    Unpaid Work is Slavery when it is Anything but Voluntary

    Stuff Capitalist Profiteering and Redistribution of Wealth from Rich to Poor Now

    People are So Docile and Lack Back in this Cuckooland of a Country it Defies Belief

    We Need Mass Public Demonstrations Not the Olympics Moron Circus

  3. Sue says:

    The ruling classes in this country have always been able to disguise things with different names. The black people working in cotton fields were slaves, the white people working down the mines in this country during the 19th century were also slaves – they could not leave the mine they worked at because they were in debt to the mine owner, who sold them the tools they worked with, the food they ate and the candles that lit the mines. Leave the mine without repaying your debt and you could be arrested and returned to the Mine owner who “Owned” you. Children in the workhouses were sold to employers who called them “Apprentices” Children who ran away were hunted down and returned to their employers where they were forced to work 12 hour days for no money. That this kind of exploitation could be emerging again in the 21st century is almost unbelievable – but here we are with a Judge decaring that being forced to work for nothing is not slavery.

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