Illegal Northampton shop worker claimed he was being paid in ‘food’

Far Cotton Food & Wine in St Leonards Road is facing a licensing hearing after it was found employing an illegal worker - who claimed he was being paid in food.

Far Cotton Food & Wine in St Leonards Road is facing a licensing hearing after it was found employing an illegal worker - who claimed he was being paid in food.

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Another Northampton local shop faces having its licence stripped after it was found employing a worker who was in the country illegally.

Far Cotton Food and Wine has become the third shop in the town owned by the same family firm to face such a probe in this month, following a series of multi-agency swoops on businesses believed to be employing foreign workers illegally.

Yesterday Kingsley Food and Wine and Abington Supermarket were handed licence suspensions for employing people whose visas had expired.

A licensing sub-committee on Northampton Borough Council will now decide whether Rajakumar Hemachandran should keep the premises licence for Far Cotton Food and Wine on St Leonard Road store, or be subject to a number of strict conditions, such as having to keep a comprehensive staffing list.

Northamptonshire Police has recommended the licence is revoked claiming Mr Hemachandran “is not a fit and proper person to be the premises licence holder”.

A taskforce of police, immigration and licensing officials swooped on the shop on January 29 this year and found a 26-year-old man working behind the till there who had overstayed a student visa by four years.

He initially gave immigration officer Heidi Young a false name, Rames Ramalingam, and claimed he had obtained British nationality seven years ago.

Further checks found his real name to be Ramachandran Chidambarathan, and background checks revealed the Indian national had overstayed a UK student visa by four years.

Ms Young said in papers submitted to the borough council: “I asked how long he had worked at the premises, he stated a few weeks.

“I asked him how much he gets paid, and he said he didn’t get paid, he received food.”

Yesterday a licensing committee hearing heard that Kingsley Food and Wine, owned by the same family, also employed Karunamithi Krishnaswamy after his visa had expired.

Mr Krishnaswamy also claimed he was paid only in food and board.

Mr Chidambarathan, who was detained after the inspection on the Far Cotton store and interviewed also claimed to be sleeping on the streets.

The licensing committee will be held at the Guildhall on April 7, where the premises licence holder will have a chance to make submissions.