Licence chiefs agree Lancaster illegal worker was ‘oversight’

Castle Stone Grill and Kebabish.
Castle Stone Grill and Kebabish.

An Indian restaurant boss has won his battle to take over a premises licence despite Home Office objections.

Nazrul Khan, manager of Bombay Balti in Lancaster, faced opposition from the authorities after he applied to be premises licence holder for the new Castle Stone Grill and Kebabish restaurant.

Immigration chiefs objected because Mr Khan still owed £9,700 from a £10,000 fine after a raid at Bombay Balti in October 2015.

A worker from Bangladesh was found to have overstayed his time in the UK and was arrested.

But Lancaster City Council licensing sub-committee said there was no evidence to suggest that Mr Khan is, or has ever been, intentionally involved with employing illegal workers.

They accepted his explanation that the incident had been a “paperwork oversight”.

“The sub-committee are of the view that transferring the licence to Mr Khan is appropriate and the transfer is unlikely to be prejudicial to the prevention of illegal working,” said Coun Alan Biddulph, chairman.

Prior to Friday’s hearing, Mr Khan said he couldn’t understand the objections because he had agreed a payment plan for the fine.

In a letter to Lancaster City Council, the Home Office (Immigration Enforcement) said they objected “to prevent crime and disorder and illegal working in licensed premises”.

“We cannot be satisfied that (Mr Khan) will comply to the licensing objectives by ensuring that all employees have the right to work,” they said.

But Mr Khan said: “It was an oversight. I had the correct paperwork (for the man) but the only thing I overlooked was the date on his ID card.

“(Immigration) have a job to do. They do it accurately to their guidelines. But I feel like I’ve been hard done to. I am paying off the fine as we agreed so I can’t understand that. I’ve been here for 20 years and I’ve never hurt anybody. I give my best and I try and when these things happen you feel let down. It’s unfortunate that incident happened.”

Mr Khan said the new threshold introduced by the Government last year, which means many non-European Union migrant workers must earn £35,000 before they can settle in the UK, was making it tough for businesses like his.

“It’s making it hard to find staff,” he said.

“There are lots of businesses closing. I will run it for the next two or three years but then I’m thinking of closing myself. I think they should take a good look at their immigration policies. To me, I haven’t done anything wrong.”

The new Castle Stone Grill and Kebabish steak restaurant is on Castle Hill near Lancaster Castle.