Beer restaurant ‘learns lesson’ after second raid

THE manager of a Beer restaurant raided by immigration officers claims that the man arrested was not preparing food for diners.

A Bangladeshi man is awaiting deportation after he was found in the kitchen of the Spice Merchant restaurant in Fore Street during a UK Border Agency raid on August 17.

After immigration checks were carried out on staff, he was found to have stayed in the UK illegally after his visa expired. He was arrested and taken to Exeter’s Heavitree police station, then transferred to immigration detention.

Manager Mohammed Bhuiyan said he supplied the correct paperwork for staff members, and contacted the man’s family in Birmingham to get them to send his papers to the agency.

He said: “He wasn’t supposed to work here at this time. He was using the kitchen at that time to prepare food for himself as part of the end of Ramadan. He was one of (restaurant co-owner) Mr Ullah’s guests and the food wasn’t going to be served in the restaurant.”

The restaurant was warned that employers face a �10,000 fine unless proof is provided that the correct pre-employment checks were carried out on an employee.

Mr Bhuiyan said: “We’ve learned a lot and won’t be letting anyone else into the kitchen.”

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The raid was the second intelligence-led visit to the Spice Merchant in two months. On July 2, all five members of staff on duty were found to be illegal workers and arrested. Four Bangladeshi men remain in immigration detention pending their removal while a fifth is having an outstanding immigration application considered. If he is found to have no legal right to remain in the UK, he will be deported.

The agency is considering whether the Spice Merchant will receive a fine of up to �50,000 for employing the first five illegal workers.