Redbridge Council suspends licence of ‘expolitative’ Gants Hill chicken shop caught employing illegal workers

Fam'z Peri Peri

Fam'z Peri Peri - Credit: Archant

A Gants Hill chicken shop owner has had his licence suspended after he was caught employing undocumented migrants who he paid below the minimum wage.

Redbridge Council’s licensing committee today (November 1) considered an application from Home Office Immigration Enforcement to revoke the licence of Fam’z Peri Peri in Cranbrook Road.

Owner Farhane Malik was issued a £20,000 penalty when enforcement officers found him employing three illegal workers on March 3 this year.

He appealed the fine unsuccessfully on May 18 and is now paying it in monthly installments.

After around 30 minutes of deliberation, the committee decided to suspend the eatery’s licence until February 1 next year.

Summarising the committee’s considerations, legal adviser Kate McCrimmon said: “The subcommittee is sufficiently satisfied that he knowingly employed the workers.

“We were also concerned that he was paying less than the minimum wage, which is exploitation of the workers.

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She added: “The committee was seriously considering revoking the licence.

“Given the findings, there is enough evidence to revoke.

“However, we are persuaded to suspend in the first instance because it is his first offence and he does not have any other source of income.”

Immigration officers first visited the chicken shop in March, following a tip-off.

There they arrested three employees - Asim Tariq, 27; Waqas Ahmed, 30; and Muhammad Farooq Younis, 34; all of whom were from Pakistan.

The men were allowed to finish serving three hungry customers, before shuttering the shop and questioning them.

Mr Tariq, whose asylum application was at that time being processed, was found trying to leave the rear of the building.

He told officers it was “his first day on a trial shift” and Farhane had not asked him for documentation.

Mr Younis told officers his leave expired in 2009 and that “the boss, Farhan[e]” allowed him to work without documentation.

Mr Ahmed said he had been working at the premises at least two days a week at £6.75 an hour for nearly five months.

The minimum wage for those aged 25 and over stands £7.83 an hour for the year 2018/19.

When asked about his immigration status, “he stated he had something but it’s finished”.

An Immigration Officer told the committee that all three men have since regularised their status and now have a right to work in the UK.

Farhane Malik apologised to the committee, saying that he “made a mistake” by employing the three men which was due to “friendship”.

He said: “It happened because I used to work together with them.

“I didn’t ask for the documentation straight away and they were delaying it so much.”

“I have accepted my mistake and that I did not act harsh enough.”

He added: “I give 100pc to my business seven-days-a-week and my kids and wife can vouch for that.”

“It will not make this mistake again.”

An Immigration Officer told the committee: “The onus is 100pc on the employer.

“A person should never be employed without the proper documentation being found.”