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HomeNewsWembley restaurant could lose license after 5 arrested in Home Office raid

Wembley restaurant could lose license after 5 arrested in Home Office raid

A restaurant in Wembley could be stripped of its licence after five people were arrested during a Home Office raid last year. Five of the six employees were found to be ‘working illegally’, with two appearing to be sleeping at the premises in a ‘converted storeroom’.

Gana Restaurant, a Sri Lankan and South Indian restaurant on Ealing Road in Wembley, will have its alcohol licence reviewed by Brent Council next month after Immigration Enforcement claimed the owner has breached it by ‘failing to prevent crime and disorder’.

Enforcement officers visited Gana in September of last year after the Home Office received a tip off that the restaurant was employing illegal workers. A total of five people were arrested, adding to the two previous arrests made in 2019 for the same offence.  Two employees were found sleeping above the premises in what ‘appeared to be a converted storeroom’.

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Due to the restaurant owner being a ‘repeat offender’, officers are urging the council to completely revoke the licence as they feel a suspension would ‘only have a short-term effect’. A subsequent report claimed the owner ‘demonstrated complete disregard’ for immigration laws and their responsibility to conduct checks on people they employ.

The report states: “Whether by negligence or wilful blindness, illegal workers were engaged in activity on the premises, yet it is a simple process for an employer to ascertain what documents they should check before a person can work.”

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It adds: “The use of illegal labour provides an unfair competitive edge and deprives the UK economy of tax revenue. Illegal workers are often paid below the minimum wage (Itself an offence) and National Insurance contributions are not made.”

Three of the five men arrested entered the UK on six month visas that had subsequently expired, however none of them were permitted to take on work of any kind. One of the workers at first told immigration officers that they had only been there for two days but later admitted to working for six months.

Another man was allowed to enter the UK as a student from December 2021 until May 2023 – with the right to work for 20 hours during term time – however, further examination revealed that he had not enrolled on the course. There was also no evidence that he had made an application to extend his visa after it had expired.

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He admitted to working at the restaurant serving food for more than a year, without paying any income tax. His shifts were from 12pm to 8pm four days a week, for which he was paid £280 into his bank account. This works out at £8.75 an hour – way below the UK minimum wage at the time of £10.42.

Another person was found working in the kitchen, he had a visa valid until April 2024 but it had no right to work. He claimed to have been working for four months as a chef, being paid £60 a day to work shifts from 12:30pm to 1:30am.

The immigration officers report noted that the restaurant owner returned during the inspection. She claimed that she ‘did not know any of the employees that were identified as illegal workers’ as she was on maternity leave and her husband is responsible for running the restaurant and managing the staff. Brent Council’s Alcohol and Entertainment Licensing Sub-Committee will review the case at a meeting on July 11.

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