Glasgow & West Scotland

'Slavery victim's' claims 'are a nightmare'

Former travellers' site in Bathgate
Image caption Alleged victims claim to have been kept at a travellers' site in Bathgate

A father-of-10 accused of abducting and beating men who worked for him has described the claims as a "nightmare".

James McPhee and two other men face more than 20 charges between them, including slavery and violence.

He told jurors: "How can they be so evil making these stories up when I have helped them?"

The 45-year-old, along with Robert McPhee, 65, and John Miller, 38, deny all the charges at the High Court in Glasgow.

The accusations span between 1992 and 2016.

Mr McPhee - a member of a family of travellers - told how he started working for himself from the age of 17.

His business involved jobs such as slabbing and mono-blocking driveways.

'The biggest fantasy'

His QC Derek Ogg asked him about allegations made by men he employed, including James Keith and John Anderson.

Both claimed earlier in the trial they had suffered at the hands of Mr McPhee.

This included accusations that Mr Keith was assaulted at a travellers' site in Bathgate and made to feel like "a bit of property".

Mr Anderson said he was kept naked in a shed and made to eat dog food before being left fearing he was going to be set on fire.

Mr McPhee, of Larkhall, South Lanarkshire, insisted accusations against him were "ludicrous".

He told Mr Ogg: "It is the biggest fantasy. I cannot believe how I helped these people, be good to them and they make up these lies about me."

'Street people'

Mr McPhee said Mr Keith had been homeless when he first met him in the 1990s and that he "felt sorry" for him.

But he told jurors: "The stuff that came out of his mouth (in court), I am gobsmacked.

"I do not know where he gets his fantasies. It is a nightmare."

He also said allegations were "like something out of a movie" and that he was "horrified" at claims he had made workers fight each other.

Mr McPhee told the court men like Mr Keith and Mr Anderson were "street people" and would not be treated how they have claimed.

He said: "This just did not happen. I have so much to say and let it out...the lies they have told."

The trial, before Lady Stacey, continues.

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