United Kingdom

Ukrainian refugee reports host to police after being asked to wash more dishes

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An NHS mental health specialist who took in a Ukrainian refugee was accused of modern-day slavery after asking her guest to help more with the dishes.

Hannah Debenham, 42, of Uckfield, East Sussex, was under investigation for two months before the case was dropped this week when no evidence was found.

Sussex Police Chief Inspector Gavin Patch defended his forces’ actions and said the investigation was “accelerated as quickly as possible”.

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The refugee, a mother who cannot be named by name for legal reasons, initially complained to police that she was expected to “clean up and tidy up the house under the guise of the Ukrainian settlement scheme for little to no money,” according to the report. a police report. .

The Ukrainian family had only been living with Ms Debenham for three weeks when the allegation was made.

Mrs Debenham’s and her husband, who also works in the NHS, were looking for an au pair for their eight-bedroom house.

‘We even showed her how to use the dishwasher’

They came across the profile of a Ukrainian woman in her thirties who claimed she was also an English teacher and contacted her to see if she would be a good fit.

Ms Debenham filled out the paperwork through the Homes for Ukraine program and the Ukrainian woman arrived in the UK in June.

Speaking to Mail Online, Ms Debenham said: “The first few weeks, the honeymoon, were fine, but they didn’t clean themselves, the amount of dishes that had to be doubled quickly.

“For example, the mother used a new glass every time she got a glass of water or drink. I explained to her that she had to help more, we even showed her how to use the dishwasher.

“I understand she was in a terrible situation after fleeing her country and after losing friends in the war, but the situation did not improve.”

Insufficient evidence for prosecution

A spokesperson for the Sussex Police Service said: “Sussex Police received a report on 20 July from a person who was required to perform forced or compulsory labour. The informant was a woman with a young daughter who had arrived in the UK as part of a the Homes for Ukraine program.

“On July 26, a woman from Uckfield, who had offered to host the couple, was invited for a voluntary interview at Eastbourne Police Station with her lawyer on August 16. She was not arrested.

“After that interview, the informant was approached several times to make a full statement, but was unwilling to assist with further investigation or to make a formal report.

“As a result, it was ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute and that no further action would be taken. The woman’s lawyer was notified of the decision the same day.”