Friday, 27 June 2008

Curry house outrage over website

The owners of a Tooting curry restaurant say they are outraged after being named and shamed on the Government's UK Border Agency website this week for allegedly employing illegal workers.

The shame campaign is part of a Home Office new strategy to stop people smuggling, but Mirch Masala on Upper Tooting Road insists it is innocent and refuses to pay the £10,000 fine dealt out after a police raid on March 31.

Manager Hassan Shahzad said: "We would never employ illegal workers. We have six branches - we could not afford it. The officers behaved very badly. They were shouting because they wanted to scare the people. I was scared myself."

Officers claimed they found two illegal workers but Mr Shahzad said one worker had given him fake identification and the other was a delivery boy not employed by him.

During the raid, a man in his 30s, who Mr Shahzad said was a worried customer, broke two legs after officers chased him onto the roof and he fell to the ground.

Mr Shahzad said he is appealing against the fine and hit out at the Home Office, which he claimed refused to confirm workers' immigration status because of the Data Protection Act.

He said: "I tried to call their helpline to check people's documents, but they just said we can't tell you. I'm so angry."

The Home Office refused to comment on the allegations, but said all 58 businesses named on the website were found guilty and that arrests were based on intelligence.

Mr Shahzad said the reputation of his business had been tarnished by the fine, imposed on May 16, and said the raid scared his customers.

An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said this week it was still investigating whether procedures were properly followed during the raid.

Source : Epsom Guardian

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