Northampton restaurant ‘had no way of knowing’ two employees were working in the UK illegally

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A curry house owner who was ordered to pay £30,000 in fines for hiring two illegal workers says he will appeal as on the grounds that employers should not be expected to act as “border control officials.”

On March 24, a joint team of immigration officers and police conducted an enforcement visit to Star of India in Abington Avenue.

The team arrested two “Bangladeshi internationals” for being in the UK illegally and imposed £30,000 fines on the business.

On Thursday, July 14, Northampton Borough Council’s licensing sub-committee will review whether sanctions need to be placed on the premises licence.

But owner Bodrol Islam says he is appealing the immigration fines and will fight his case to keep the licence as he says both employees showed him fake passports and paperwork he believed to be real.

“If someone produces a passport and driving licence, what else are we supposed to ask for - we are not border control officers here.

“There is no hotline for us to call here.”

Mr Islam said one employee had a Belgian passport. He claims both the men were all paid above the minimum wage and were not hired as a means of cheap employment.

“We’ve been in business since 1964, it’s not like we are a new business,” he added.

“There is 12 staff here, and we have employees form Romania, Lithuania, we have always tried to be above board.”

A third Bangladeshi man at the premises was identified as “potentially having to right to employment in the UK” by immigration officials.

Further investigation found he entered the UK legally in 1979 though he did not have any evidence of this and would not have been able to provide his employer with the paperwork.

Licensing Constable Chris Stevens will also give representations at the July 14 licensing committee.

It was also alleged that, on a premises visit, a male customer was seen drinking a pint of lager in the bar area, even though the restaurant is only allowed to sell alcohol to diners.

The committee hearing will take place in the meeting chamber of the Guildhall at 10am on July 14.