Two Northampton shop licences suspended for employing illegal immigrants
Two Northampton shops owned by the same family have had their licences suspended after immigration officers found them employing illegal workers.
Kingsley Food and Wine in Kingsley Park Terrace and Abington Supermarket in Wellingborough Road were found to have foreign staff with expired visas during a multi-agency sting in January.
Plain-clothed licensing, Trading Standards and immigration officers carried out a series of searches on shops in Northampton on January 29, which also uncovered illegal tobacco.
During a hearing at the Guildhall today the premises licence for the Kingsley store was suspended for six weeks and the Abington shop, owned by the same family, for four weeks.
It means neither will be able to sell alcohol, tobacco, or lottery products during the suspensions.
On Abington Supermarket, chairman of the committee Councillor John Caswell (Con, New Duston) said: “We accept that on the balance of probability the premises did know that Mr Meiappan (the illegal worker) could not work in the UK as he had not produced the relevant documents.”
Representing Abington Supermarket at the hearing, Mark Worthington said the licence holder Kemalatha Hemachandran employed Govindan Meiappan believing he had legal status to work.
He said former student Mr Meiappan a provisional driving licence and a personal licence. He claims the owners then gave the worker 15 days provide paperwork of his current visa status as well, which never appeared.
Mr Govindan Meiappan was deported back to India in February and Abington Supermarket was handed a £10,000 fine from the Home Office. The store says he worked there for two weeks.
Mr Worthington said: “At the time we employed Mr Meiappan we did not know that he was an illegal immigrant or had any illegal immigration issues.
“We acknowledge they made mistakes, but not because of dishonesty or any criminal intent - it was more through naivety.”
Kinglsey Food and Wine, run by Nadarajah Kangaratnam, was also fined £10,000 for employing Indian national Karunamithi Krishnaswamy with an expired visa, today’s committee hearing heard.
Mr Krishnaswamy told immigration officers he was only paid in food and board under interview.
Both shops had strict restrictions placed on their premises licences.
From now on any person employed will have to produce documents to prove they are eligible to work in the UK, both must keep round-the-clock CCTV and must keep a fully up to date list of all staff working there among other measures.