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Takeaway at a new Indian restaurant; Seven of eight staff held in illegal immigrant swoop.

Byline: RACHEL WEARMOUTH

SUSPECTED illegal workers are marched from an upmarket Indian restaurant in an immigration swoop.

Award-winning Jashn, in Gateshead, was forced to close for the night while seven of its eight staff were questioned on suspicion of working illegally.

Immigration officers raided the restaurant late on Thursday, taking the Bangladeshi men into custody.

Only one chef, a Briton, was found to be working legally and the restaurant could be hit with a fine of up to pounds 70,000 - pounds 10,000 for each worker if it is found it failed to check the workers' credentials.

The swoop was part of a nationwide crackdown on illegal workers and comes two weeks after Fortunes takeaway in High Street West in Wallsend, across the river in North Tyneside, was raided in a similar operation.

Three of the takeaway's chefs were arrested on suspicion of illegal working.

Last night, five men, aged 20, 21, 27, 32 and 32, from Jashn, were being interviewed on suspicion of entering the country illegally.

A 40-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of absconding from UK Border Agency reporting restrictions.

An 18-year-old man was being held on suspicion of working in breach of his visa conditions. It is not yet known if the men will face action.

The restaurant, at Whickham Banks, Swalwell, has won scores of fans for its healthy Indian cuisine and plush interior design.

It was also crowned Trader of the Year by Chronicle readers as part of our awards for businesses in January.

Wallace Wilson, manager of the UK Border Agency Northumbria Local Immigration Team, said his officers acted on intelligence supplied by members of the public.

He said: "This is the second time in just two weeks that a business has had to close its doors after a visit from our officers.

"The message is clear - the UK Border Agency will not tolerate illegal working and we will not hesitate to take the strongest possible action against those involved.

"The UK Border Agency is happy to work with law-abiding businesses to ensure they operate within the rules, and there are a few simple checks that can be carried out to establish a person's right to work in the UK.

"However, as Thursday night's operation shows, we will continue to make life as tough as possible for those who attempt to cheat the rules."

The restaurant's owner, Allam Jahirul, who also owns a restaurant in Coventry, was not available to respond before this newspaper went to press.

CAPTION(S):

LED AWAY Seven members of staff, all Bangladeshi men, were arrested when immigration officers raided the restaurant on Thursday

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Author:RACHEL WEARMOUTH
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 16, 2011
Words:433
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