THE FATHER of a Stamford man who died in a caravan fire while working for travellers in Sweden has called for governments to tackle the human trafficking that took him there.
Oliver Hayre was 22 when his body was found in a burned-out caravan he shared with three other Britons in 2005.
He had gone to Sweden after being offered a £900-a-week job paving driveways and providing free accommodation.
But a leaked report by the intelligence section of Sweden’s Criminal Investigation Department alleges that the camp Oliver was staying on was run by travellers who made young men work from 7am to 11pm for less than £10 a day.
The problem also exists in Britain, where police have raided seven travellers’ camps across six counties this year.
Six members of the same family from the Green Acres caravan site, near Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire have been charged with slavery and forced-labour offences in the past two weeks.
According to the Swedish report, named Project Troy, men, often British, have been recruited in pubs or on the streets. Once they arrive in Sweden they have their passports confiscated and are threatened with violence if they do not toe the line.
The report highlights Oliver’s case, which was reported as an accident by Swedish police at the time, and says the fire that killed him was arson.
Tomorrow will be the sixth anniversary of Oliver’s death.
His father Martin, 55, of Caledonian Road, is pleased the problem has been acknowledged but says more needs to be done.
He said: “You have got to put in an exit route, the same as you would for abused wives and children.
“None of the governments of the world has come up with an exit route. Until that happens people will just go back, because they are vulnerable.
“People are so scared. They can’t just take the victims away. They have no home, no money, no life.”
At Oliver’s inquest in Stamford in June 2006, coroner Gordon Ryhall suggested the Swedish police were less thorough than they should have been because of who Oliver was working for.
His parents found out about his death six days after it happened, and Mr Hayes went to Sweden with Det Chief Insp Guy Collings, head of Lincolnshire police’s major crime unit at the time, to meet the investigation team.
He said: “It was so apparent from the moment we were told it was all just sweeping it under the table.
“It was a low priority because of who Oliver was working for. He was tarred with the same brush as the travellers.
“A young man had lost his life but because of who he was with it didn’t warrant investigation.”
Project Troy was triggered by intelligence suggesting wide-scale trafficking of young men by Irish and British travellers.
The report found 72 cases of trafficking and forced labour by traveller clans in Sweden since 2007.
Mr Hayre questioned why it took so long for the issue to be publicised.
“Why didn’t the story go national six years ago?” he said. “Why didn’t the governments step in six years ago?
“So much positive has come out of these latest developments If we can get one person out of it safely we have got somewhere.”
Mr Hayre thinks the problem can be tackled but it needs commitment from governments worldwide.
He added: “I am always hopeful. It depends whether the right people give it the right resources.
“I am more than happy if they want to tackle the problem seriously. I applaud them for it because it’s better than nothing.
“But we must give people a safe exit route.”