A waiter has been arrested and is now facing deportation for entering the UK illegally after a raid at an Italian restaurant in Hove.
Home Office enforcement officers visited Otello in Church Road last Wednesday and questioned staff about their right to live and work in the UK after receiving intelligence about the restaurant.
They arrested a 37-year-old man from Albania who had entered the UK illegally. He remains in immigration detention pending his removal from the UK.
The business has been served with a notice warning it could be fined as much as £20,000 unless they can demonstrate that document checks were carried out – but the restaurant says it is confident it followed correct procedure.
Owner Saied Abdulkhani said: “This gentleman had been with us for a few months and had produced all his documents as per normal and we took him in good faith.
“We were just as surprised as anyone else. He was a very decent person and we never had any problem with him. We were very pleased with him and when the Home Office came I was 100% confident that he had everything but to my surprise he didn’t have it.
“If the Home Office can’t stop him, how are we meant to? I have a clear conscience.”
Inspector Ceri Williams, of the Kent and Sussex Immigration Enforcement team, said: “We are working hard to tackle illegal working and those who abuse the UK’s immigration system.
“Using illegal labour is not victimless crime. It defrauds the Treasury, depriving vital public services like schools and hospitals of funds, it undercuts honest businesses and it cheats legitimate job seekers of employment opportunities. It also exploits some of society’s most vulnerable people.
“We expect everyone here illegally to leave the UK voluntarily. For those who don’t the message is clear – we will find, detain and remove you.”
Information to help employers carry out checks to prevent illegal working can be found here. It includes a new quick answer right-to-work tool to help employers check if someone has the right to work in the UK.
People with information about suspected immigration abuse can contact https://www.gov.uk/report-immigration-crime or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.