Six arrested after immigration raids in Sidmouth

Five people are awaiting deportation after raids at two Chinese restaurants by the UK Border Agency in Sidmouth.

Acting on intelligence the officers carried out simultaneous operations at Yummy Express and the recently-opened Jade Wok making six arrests.

The businesses, both owned by Gary Kwong, face a combined fine of �60,000, up to �10,000 for each illegal member of staff they employed, unless they can provide evidence that the correct right-to-work checks were made before the illegal workers were taken on

Checks on the staff at Yummy Express in Temple Street revealed nobody on duty had the legal right to be in the UK, and it has now been closed temporarily.

Of the three a Chinese man was a failed asylum seeker who had not left Britain after his claim was thrown out, a Malaysian woman who entered the country illegally, and a Malaysian man who had stayed after his visa expired.

At Jade Wok, in the High Street and run by the same owners, three Malaysian men working there were all found to have entered the UK illegally.

Following the raids at 6pm last Friday, all but one are in immigration detention awaiting deportation, while the Malaysian man from Yummy Express has been placed on immigration bail and must report weekly to a police station while arrangements are made for his removal.

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Kenny Chapman, who heads the UK Border Agency’s local immigration team for the South West, said: “If people want to live or work in the UK, there are ways they can come here legitimately. But if they break the law we will catch up with them.”

The home office department has teams who investigate and track down illegal workers and other immigration offenders.

He added businesses have a legal responsibility to make checks on all their staff to ensure they have the legal right to work in the UK, and failure to do so could result in a large fine.

The Jade Wok restaurant was officially opened by Sidmouth Town Council chairman, Councillor Stuart Hughes, back in July, after the success of Yummy Express.

A statement from Gary Kwong said: “Early on Friday evening the Jade Wok restaurant and Yummy Express Takeaway were visited by the UK Border Agency.

“They had received a tip-off regarding the possibility that some of the new staff I had employed might not have valid work permits. This is now the subject of an ongoing investigation.

“In the meantime the Yummy Express Takeaway will be operating temporarily from the Jade Wok, which remains open for business as usual.

“We have a very loyal customer base and are sorry for any inconvenience caused by this unfortunate situation. Particular apologies must go to those customers who were unable to dine with us on Friday.

“Your readers will know that the Jade Wok is a new business and still in the early days of development. To this end I have recently employed a Personal Assistant to help me deal with the administration of the business and we had discussed setting up the protocols for employee’s records only 48 hours before the visit from the UK Border Agency.”

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