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Illegal workers are found at restaurant
TWO illegal immigrants tried to flee a Worcester restaurant when it was raided by UK Border Agency officers.
The men were caught before they left the Massalla Lounge in Broad Street during the swoop just after 6pm on Wednesday.
Eight members of staff were then questioned and had their immigration status checked.
Three men from Bangladesh, including the two who tried to escape, were arrested after checks showed they had no right to be in the UK.
Two of the men had overstayed their visas while the third had illegally entered the UK. All three are being held at an immigration detention centre and will be deported within weeks.
The restaurant could now face a fine of up to £30,000 if it is not able to prove that it carried out proper checks before employing the men, such as inspecting passports or Home Office letters.
Abdul Bari, one of the managing directors of Massalla Lounge, said the restaurant was co-operating with the UK Border Agency investigation and working with their solicitors to prove proper checks were carried out.
“In terms of our recruitment process, we did our necessary checks to establish whether [the employees] were legal to work in this country,” he said.
“We are working with our legal team in proving our innocence that we have done what we need to do.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen and we understand our reputation will be affected because we are a long-standing, successful business in Worcester and we have never had any issues like this before.”
He said the business had recently experienced a high turnover of staff after two key employees took long periods of leave.
Paula Burton, of the UK Border Agency’s West Mercia local immigration team, said foreign nationals who overstay visas and others who abuse immigration rules should “be in no doubt” that they will be found, arrested and removed from the UK.
“Companies that think they can undercut competitors by employing illegal workers should be warned that they will face heavy fines and possible prosecution,” she said.
Employers unsure of the steps they need to take to avoid such action can visit ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/business-sponsors/preventing-illegal-working/ or call the UK Border Agency’s Employers Helpline on 0300 1234699.
Anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or visit ukba. homeoffice.gov.uk/aboutus/contact/report-crime.