A HEREFORD restaurant has avoided losing its premises licence after two men were arrested for illegal working during an immigration raid.

Herefordshire Council licensing sub-committee heard that a review was called following a joint police and border agency operation at the Taste of Raj on St Owen Street last December.

Sergeant Duncan Reynolds said two men with no entitlement to live or work in the UK were arrested during the intelligence-led raid.

One man, caught in the restaurant’s kitchen wearing food-stained clothing, attempted to flee.

He was an asylum seeker in receipt of an allowance and therefore not allowed to work.

A second man, discovered in the upstairs accommodation with a uniform that bore the restaurant’s logo, was arrested for being an illegal overstayer.

Both denied working at the restaurant, but admitted living above the premises.

Sergeant Reynolds said that while he was “100 per cent sure” the man found in the kitchen had been working, many restaurants have an “immigration drill” and a script to follow if raided.

“These staff are often paid in leftover food and accommodation.”

Taste of Raj licensee Ataur Rahman said the man in the kitchen was visiting a relative and the flat upstairs was not under his control but was rented by the occupant. He denied either man worked at the restaurant.

Mr Rahman said many people might have clothing resembling that of a waiter.

Police initially recommended that the premises licence be revoked.

But Sergeant Reynolds said that, on reflection, the force would recommend allowing the business’ licence to continue with the application of various conditions as the restaurant had not come to the attention of the police previously.

The committee allowed the business to keep its licence, subject to a list of conditions which the business must adhere to.