A RESTAURANT has been slapped with a £20,000 fine and could lose its licence after the Home Office found three illegal immigrants working there.

Jaflong, an Indian and Bangladeshi restaurant on Bicester’s Market Square, was raided by immigration officers on October 11 last year, according to a Home Office document sent to Cherwell District Council.

Four workers in the restaurant were found to be working in the UK illegally, and three of them were arrested.

The Home Office report said there had been a ‘flagrant disregard for the legalities of employing responsibly.’

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Parts of the restaurant were also found to be in a bad condition, including a courtyard behind the kitchen full of pigeons and bird droppings.

Restaurant owner Shakur Ali was given a £20,000 civil penalty fine, which remains outstanding according to the Home Office.

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Shakur Ali. Picture: Richard Cave

Cherwell District Council’s licensing subcommittee is now due to discuss whether the restaurant should keep its licence at a meeting on Tuesday.

A report has been supplied as evidence for the meeting with names of officers and people involved in the raid removed.

The report says that, ahead of their visit on October 11, immigration officers received intelligence that there were illegal workers at Jaflong.

When they arrived at 6.30pm that evening, uniformed officers went in through the front of the building, with one other parking at the rear of the restaurant to ‘remain covert’.

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The officer parked behind the building saw a man go into the kitchen area and run back out and down the road when he noticed the other officers enter the building.

Another one of the immigration officers caught up to him and took him back inside, where they questioned him and found he had an application to work in the UK under consideration by the Home Office.

Another officer carried out a full sweep of the building and found a man upstairs sitting in his pyjamas in the dark who also had an outstanding claim with the Home Office but denied working at the restaurant.

There were also eight beds discovered over the first and second floors, fire doors had the handles removed and there were no working smoke alarms.

Immigration officers also discovered that the back door to the kitchen area opened out into a courtyard full of pigeons, bird poo and feathers with nothing stopping the birds from entering the kitchen.

A review letter sent to Cherwell District Council also said the carpets needed replacing as immigration officers’ boots had stuck to them.

The cellar had been knocked through into a neighbouring property and food was stored around the rubble.

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Interviews with members of staff also revealed their pay and living conditions.

One man working as a chef said he earned £120 paid in cash every week working six days a week with Monday off.

Another said he had entered the UK in 2007 hidden in the back of a lorry and was paid £10 a day to work as a kitchen porter, as well as being given meals and accommodation.

A third man said he was paid £25 a shift in cash working as a chef, working five days a week.

All three men were arrested and detained following the visit.

Since 2006, employers have had a duty to check their staff are legally allowed to work in the UK.

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Cherwell District Council's offices at Bodicote House.

Cherwell District Council’s licensing subcommittee will discuss the review of Jaflong’s licence at 10am next Tuesday, at Bodicote House, Banbury.

The committee has not been given a recommendation from council staff but has three options: allow Jaflong to keep its licence, allow it to keep the licence but change the conditions, or reject the restaurant’s application for a new licence.

The Home Office has asked for Jaflong’s licence to be revoked, as it does not think extra conditions on the licence – such as limiting the opening hours – will be enough to deter further illegal activity.

The restaurant has been based in Bicester for more than 20 years and has been nominated multiple times for Best in the South East in the British Curry Awards.

Jaflong was contacted for comment on the licensing review.