Top Stoke-on-Trent restaurant stripped of licence after immigration raid nets illegal workers


Councillors have revoked the licence of an award-winning restaurant – after the venue was caught employing illegal migrant workers.

In a meeting held behind closed doors, members of Stoke-on-Trent City Council‘s licensing sub-committee voted to strip the Blue Tiffin of its licence following an application by the Home Office.

But owner Shaz Rahman says he will appeal against the decision, and claims he has been ‘bullied’ by the authorities.

The restaurant will continue to trade until the appeal has been determined.

Blue Tiffin, in Meir

Two Bangladeshi men – who had overstayed their visas – were found working at the Blue Tiffin, in Meir, on November 28, during a raid by immigration officers. Illegal workers had been found at the Uttoxeter Road restaurant on four previous occasions since 2011.

The Home Office application was supported by Staffordshire Police and the council’s licensing department, which carried out separate visits to the venue.

According to the police, the restaurant had not properly trained staff to challenge underage drinkers, and was serving alcohol to customers who were not eating a meal – in breach of its premises licence.

The licensing officers, who visited the restaurant in February, found that the premises licence was not being displayed, and that some details of the licence were out of date.

Blue Tiffin owner Shaz Rahman

Mr Rahman claims different agencies have ‘ganged up’ on him and targeted the restaurant unfairly.

He said: “Everything they asked me to do, I did. But when you have four authorities ganging up on you like this, there’s not much you can do.

“I’ve been involved in this business for 28, 29 years, and I’ve never known something like this to happen, with four different authorities coming after you like this. I feel I’m being bullied, all because I answered back to the immigration officer. They didn’t like that so they brought in the police, health and hygiene, and the licensing people.

“I accept there was an issue with immigration, but I did what they asked me to do. I brought in more people to try to deal with the problem. But it seems they just want me to lose my business and my livelihood.

“I’ve just got to wait for the letter to come through and then I’ll put in my appeal.”

The licensing sub-committee was due to discuss the Blue Tiffin licensing review at a virtual meeting viewable by the public this week.

Interior of Blue Tiffin restaurant on the A50 at Meir

But at the start of the meeting, sub-committee chairman Amjid Wazir said that due to the potential disclosure of ‘confidential and sensitive’ information, the review would be held in private.

The Home Office document included in the meeting’s agenda reports pack contained various redacted details, such as the names of the illegal workers and the immigration officers who carried out the raid.

Following the meeting, Mr Wazir said: “There was some sensitive information that we couldn’t disclose to the public. We had legal advice to hold the meeting in closed session, and the sub-committee voted to do that.”

The Blue Tiffin, which serves Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine, has won various awards over the years, including being named the best restaurant in Staffordshire at the national Curry Life Awards.





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