Curry interrupted by immigration raid

A couple’s birthday dinner was ruined after their meal was interrupted by immigration officers who arrested four kitchen staff at a Sidmouth restaurant.

Paul Goodman was eating at Cinnamon Tree with his wife last Tuesday when the UK Border Agency raided the Radway Place premises.

He said: “We had just ordered our starter and then two officers came in the front door, and four or five through the kitchen.

“They said ‘we have a warrant to search these premises’, and several people from the kitchen were brought into the restaurant and were questioned right in front of us.”

A spokesman for the UK Border Agency said four men were found to be working illegally, and now face deportation.

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Mr Goodman, who had taken his wife out for her birthday, said there was another couple of tables having dinner, and all were as shocked as each other at the scene.

“I had a mouthful of poppadum and the police came bursting through the kitchen, and I was wondering what’s going to happen to my chicken korma,” he said.

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He said he didn’t know whether to leave, but was assured by the manager they could continue their evening.

Mr Goodman said despite the interruption of their meal with a border agency raid they were not offered a discount on their food, which he said wasn’t ‘all that great anyway’.

A spokesman fro the Border Agency said: “Immigration checks on staff revealed that three men, aged 25, 27 and 28, had entered the UK illegally, while a 23-year-old was working illegally in breach of his visitor visa.”

The four were arrested and taken to Launceston police station, and are due to be transferred to immigration detention to await removal from the UK.

Cinnamon Tree now faces a fine of up to �40,000 unless it can provide evidence the correct right-to-work checks were made on the staff before they were employed.

But restaurant owner Kazi Ahmad said he is confident he has the documentation to prove the men had been employed legally.

He said two workers were in the country with student visas, but their college had been closed down and they had not told him.

Mr Ahmad said another man was a former owner of the restaurant, and had twice had his paperwork checked by Border Agency Officials without problem.

He added he feels he has done nothing wrong, and wanted to reassure his customers Cinnamon Tree was open as usual.

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