Leigh restaurant could lose licence after employing illegal workers

A Leigh-on-Sea restaurant’s licence is under review after a chef and waiter were found illegally working during an immigration raid.

Essex Police visited the Yak and Yeti, a Nepalese, Indian and Tibetan restaurant, on London Road in January and found the business had employed the staff illegally.

At a Licencing Committee on Friday morning, a spokesman for the police told councillors a review of the restaurant’s licence had been requested because “Essex Police takes the issue of illegal workers very seriously”.

But councillors also heard the situation was more complex than it appeared as the restaurant had recently changed hands following the death of the original owner, who had recruited the two workers.

The police spokesman explained one of the workers had told officers they had been working at the premises for six months as a waiter after a friend got him the job. However, he was not required to show any documentation of his right to work.

The other, was working in the kitchen “dressed in chef’s white” and had been working there six days a week for around nine months. When asked by his boss if he has the right to work there, he said he had told them he did not.

The police spokesman said: “It was an intelligence operation based on information that a number of individuals were working at the premises illegally. Immigration officers had attended the premises twice previously, following the discovery of one illegal worker in 2013.”

The original owner died in December and David Dadds, who was representing the new owner, explained the restaurant had passed the business to his brother.

Since then, Mr Dadds said that all immigrations checks had been carried out, proper records are being kept and steps have been taken to ensure that the same situation “does not happen again”.

Speaking of the new owner, Mr Dadds said: “He finds himself in a difficult situation. Not only has he lost a brother but he has also taken on responsibility for the business and his brother’s family.”

The police spokesman said the force “sympathises” with the owner’s situation but it remains their responsibility to ensure they are following their law.

A final decision is expected to be made by members of the council’s licensing committee, who have the option to revoke the premises licence entirely which could prevent the sale of alcohol, the sale of food and drink at night, as well as any form of entertainment.

Alternatively it could take weaker measures such as amending the terms of the licence.

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter