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'Slave masters' arrested after 20 rescued from factory

Three suspected slave masters have been arrested after 20 people were rescued in a raid at a factory.

The people were working 80-hour weeks for just £25, producing pictures and frames for a number of major high street companies, police said.

Three men aged 51, 43 and 40 were arrested on suspicion of a forced labour conspiracy and of human trafficking after the factory in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, was raided.

Officers said the workers - who also complained of being physically attacked by their employers - were paid £125 each for their week's work, but were then forced to hand back £100 for rent and travel, leaving them barely any money to survive.

A 24-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of immigration offences.

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Rugby teams to play in honour of Alan Henning

Local rugby league rivals Salford Red Devils and Swinton will play a friendly in January, with all the proceeds going to the family of Alan Henning.

The Salford taxi driver was murdered by Islamic State at the start of October after being captured in Syria where he was delivering aid.

Alan Henning was described as a 'local hero'

All money made from the game will be donated to the Alan Henning Fund, which was set up by his family following his death.

Salford owner Marwan Koukash said: “We all have been deeply touched by the sad loss of Alan and I feel it is a fitting tribute to the wonderful work he carried out that the two rugby Clubs of Salford have combined to provide support for Alan’s family.

"From personal experience as a refugee myself, I have been the recipient of the humanitarian efforts of such wonderful people as Alan and I really do hope that this game can be a way in which the sporting teams of the City can show their gratitude and support for Alan and his family."

Chicken lorry crash on M62 leaves 1,500 birds dead

A chicken lorry crashed on a motorway this morning leaving around 1,500 birds dead and motorists stuck in miles of tailbacks.

Chicken crates are scattered across the motorway after the crash. Credit: @IainCPatterson

The vehicle, which crashed into a barrier on the M62 at 4.15am, was carrying 6,800 live chickens.

The incident left crates scattered across the carriageway with some birds escaping and running loose on the road. The escaped chickens were quickly gathered by the Highways Agency and returned to the truck.

Part of the motorway in Greater Manchester was shut throughout the morning leaving motorists stuck in long queues.

The lorry driver was not injured in the crash.

MP apology after woman in coma pursued to get a job

The Minister for Disabled People has apologised to the family of a women with mental health issues who was pursued to attend "intensive job-focused activity", despite having been in a coma for the past two months.

Mike Penning MP said things had clearly "gone wrong" in the case of Sheila Holt.

The Minister for Disabled People Mike Penning has apologised to Sheila Holt's family. Credit: Press Association

Ms. Holt from Greater Manchester was sectioned under the Mental Health Act in December. Her family say she struggled to cope with changes to her council tax benefits and being forced into the Work Programme. She had a heart attack days later and fell into the coma.

Her family repeatedly told the DWP and Seetec, a contractor carrying out work-capability assessments, about her situation but they continued to receive letters from the organisations.

Mr. Penning said: "I apologise, unreservedly, to the family as the minister responsible."It's about time politicians did stand up and apologise when things went wrong. It clearly has gone wrong and the family have every right to be aggrieved and I hope she makes a full recovery, as much as she can."

Police 'not looking for anyone else' after house fire

Police have said they are not looking for anyone else in connection with a house fire in Bolton, Greater Manchester which killed three people in the early hours of Monday.

The bodies of architect Hassan Rafie, 49, and his law student wife, Mahnaz, 48, were discovered in the blaze at the family home.

Post-mortem examinations showed Mrs Rafie died from stab wounds and Mr Rafie from smoke inhalation and burns.

Mrs Rafie's mother, Dolleh Joseph, 74, was rescued by firefighters from an upstairs bedroom but died soon after in hospital from the effects of smoke inhalation and burns.

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Police appeal to former pupils over abuse probe

Detective Constable Christian Chivers, from Greater Manchester Police's Public Protection Investigation Unit, said:

I want to reassure local residents, and more importantly parents of children currently at St Vincent's, that these are historical incidents.

While we do not believe there is any reason for current pupils or their families to be unduly concerned, this is extremely serious and upsetting for the victims in this case, who we are continuing to provide specialist support to.

The safeguarding of pupils is without doubt a top priority for us, the school and Salford Diocese and we are working together as part of this investigation.

As part of this investigation I am appealing to former pupils who may have information about the offences under investigation or who may want to speak to us about similar matters to come forward.

I want to reassure anyone who might want to report any incidents or offences that we treat all allegations of sexual abuse extremely seriously and in the strictest confidence and we have officers on hand to deal with your complaints swiftly and sympathetically.

  • Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Priest interviewed by police over abuse claim

A Catholic priest has been interviewed by police investigating reports of historic sexual abuse over a 20-year period.

The investigation relates to the indecent assault and sexual abuse of three women during their time as schoolgirls at St Vincent's Primary School in Norden, Rochdale, between 1980 and 2000, Greater Manchester Police said.

It is understood the allegations involve a parish priest at St Vincent de Paul RC Church who was serving at the time of the alleged offences.

The church is located in the same grounds as the school.

The offences did not occur within the school but at an adjacent presbytery, police said.

Frank Sidebottom statue unveiled in Timperley

Frank Sidebottom became synonymous with Timperley after Chris Sievey regularly featured his hometown in his act. Credit: ITV Granada

Hundreds of fans of the cult comic character Frank Sidebottom have taken to the streets of Timperley, Greater Manchester, this morning for the unveiling of his bronze statue.

The unique tribute was created after a fundraising drive by the family of the character's creator Chris Sievey, who died from cancer in 2010.

Temporarily contained within Sidebottom's beloved shed, the statue was revealed at precisely 11.37am - a time of the day popularly referenced by the character in his act.

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