A Grimsby businessman cleared his name after his son employed illegal workers at an Indian restaurant.
The solicitor for Spice of Life’s premises licence holder Mohammed Abdul Salique argued that the business was owned and run day-to-day by his son Mohammed Hussain Shahir.
Mr Shahir was fined £30,000 for employing two staff (£15,000 each) found to be working at the premises who don’t have a right to work in the UK.
Evidence from the Home Office said the money currently remains unpaid, despite no objections or appeals submitted since the date of the breach on August 23, 2019.
Sarah Clover, on behalf of Mr Salique, argued it was the employer, not the premises licence holder, who was responsible for vetting staff.
She said Mr Salique appeared before North East Lincolnshire’s licensing committee on Tuesday to clear his name.
“Mr Salique has been in Grimsby since 1979, he’s got a reputation — and that is what he is before you with an interest in preserving today, that’s his motivation for challenging this review,” she said.
“He’s operated a number of restaurants and takeaways in this space of time and he hasn’t been subjected to reviews or enforcement action or criticism, or anything indeed to suggest that his reputation is anything other than good he he’s acted as a pillar of the community.”
She said neither of the premises licence holders, including a Mr Abdul Somir, who was not at the committee hearing, were present for the Home Office visits.
She also disputed a number of facts arguing a lack of detail being presented.
It had also taken 15 months for the incident to reach the committee for review, she pointed out.
The premises were raided on five previous occasions by Home Office Immigration Enforcement. During visits in 2012 and 2015, workers were found to be employed illegally and were subsequently arrested.
During the 2019 raid, one of the officers reported a man on the roof of the building who had climbed out of a window. He agreed to come back into the building and was said to have been “visibly shaken and cried for some time before calming down”, said the evidence.
One man, believed to be Mr Shahir, was reported to be “verbally aggressive” during the 2015 visit and “disruptive” to police officers during the 2019 raid.
Emily Price on behalf of Humberside Police said: “The view of the the Chief Constable is, given that there has been a clear breach of the legislation in regards to employees, not one but two illegal workers, not for the first time, but for the third — that the council should consider revoking the premise’s licence.”
Committee members, however, agreed with Ms Clover, with chairman Councillor David Hasthorpe, saying: “The committee are happy that there should be no slur on the character of Mohammed Salique regarding the illegal working found to be occurring on the premises known as the Spice of Life.”
However, they noted their concern that regular checks should have been made to ensure laws were being complied with.
They added a series of conditions to the licence including an onus on Premises Licence Holders to verify identification documents.
A transfer of the premises license was also made to new owners Tail and Spirit who took over the business in December 2020.