‘Slavery’ case couple hit back

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A city couple accused of treating their children’s nanny like a modern day slave are having to sell their home to pay her £184,000 in backdated wages.

Anjy and Pooja Chandhok employed Permila Tirkey for four and a half years as a live-in housekeeper and carer for their miracle IVF twins.

“She was like part of our family and we gave her everything she wanted,” claimed IT consultant Mr Chandhok in an exclusive interview with the Citizen after the tribunal.

But in a landmark case last week, Permila took the Chandhoks to an employment tribunal to claim discrimination due to her low caste in Hindu society.

She told the tribunal she was paid 11p an hour for 18 hour days and was recruited from India because the couple wanted someone “servile”.

Ms Tirkey’s barrister said: “Effectively she was ill-treated because of her inherited status.”

The Chandhoks are this week reeling from the tribunal’s order to pay the retrospective wages.

They say they are bemused as to why the woman their twins called Didi – Hindi for older sister – should cause them such devastation.

They fear even worse will follow as a damages hearing is scheduled for next month.

Claims Mr Chandhok: “For all the time she was with us we paid between £400 a month and £570 a month into her bank account. She had access to our cards to buy shopping and she had her own bedroom with an en suite bathroom”.

He and Pooja, who works for a London council, met Ms Tirkey when they went to India in 2006 for IVF treatment.

“She worked for my wife’s parents and seemed a nice person. She said she was keen to come to the UK,” said Mr Chandhok.

The IVF treatment failed but a second attempt in England a year later resulted in twins, a boy and a girl, who are now aged seven.

In 2008 Mrs Chandhok flew to India and, at Ms Tirkey’s request, arranged a visa for her to be employed at their Oakhill home as a nanny and domestic help.

“The twins loved her and we got on so well. She called me Bhaiya, which means big brother. Everybody was happy,” said Mr Chandhok.

Ms Tirkey, who does not speak English, left suddenly in November 2012, shortly before her permanent UK residency was due to be granted.

Her barrister told the tribunal there had been a row with her employers, but the Chandhoks claim she revealed plans to work for another Indian family nearby.

The tribunal concluded she was deemed acceptable by the Chandhoks to be their servant “not because of her skills but because she was, by birth... a person whose expectations in life were no higher than to be a domestic servant.”

After the case her solicitor Victoria Marks said: “This is a very useful judgement for a victim of modern day slavery.”