Louth restaurant loses licence after raid discovers illegal workers

A well-known Indian restaurant in Louth has been barred from selling alcohol after a raid discovered workers were illegally employed.

Le Taj in Louth.

East Lindsey District Council’s Alcohol Licensing Sub-Committee has revoked the Premises Licence of Le Taj, of 37 Upgate, Louth.

At the same time, Khushi’s, of 34 High Street, Mablethorpe, had its ‘Designated Premises Supervisor’ removed and additional conditions added.

Licence review hearings were held last Friday (May 27) at the ELDC offices at Manby.

Khushi's in Mablethorpe.

Following evidence presented by Lincolnshire Police Alcohol Licensing Team, the decision to permanently revoke the licence of Le Taj - and make changes to Khushi’s licence conditions - were made by the Licensing Committee.

The action follows a raid on a number of restaurants in the East Lindsey area on February 5 by officers from the Alcohol Licensing Team, Immigration and HMRC.

They discovered 13 workers were illegally employed at the two restaurants.

Acting on intelligence received, officers attended and searched the restaurants.

Khushi's in Mablethorpe.

Checks were made on all workers present at the restaurants. None of them were legitimately employed at either of these premises. The committee agreed with police that the restaurants were undermining the Licensing Objectives in relation to the prevention of crime and disorder.

Sergeant Kimble Enderby said: “These joint agency operations are all intelligence-led, targeting premises where we have received information that persons are being illegally employed at the venue or HMRC believe that there are financial irregularities in the way the business is being run.

“Overall we discovered thirteen workers illegally employed at these two venues. Employing workers “off the books” in this way gives the venue unfair advantage over other legitimate businesses in the area.

“It leaves the workers open to exploitation, denies them legal rights such as entitlement to a living wage, and can lead to forced labour. Le Taj had its licence revoked as the licence holder, Gias Uddin, failed to attend at the hearing or offer any explanation for what was discovered at the restaurant.

“In the case of Khushi’s, following the operation the Licence had been transferred to the ownership of Kurnia Intertrade Ltd, with Michael Kheng in the role of Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS).

“Whilst changes were made to how this business was run, the committee had no confidence in Mr Kheng carrying out the role of DPS, so removed him from that role.

“They also added a number of additional conditions designed to prevent crime like this occurring in the future.

“The decision of the committee sends out a clear message that businesses behaving in this way face the most severe sanction.

“The work being undertaken by the Restaurant Taskforce, comprising of the three agencies, is ongoing and there are more operations planned in the weeks ahead.

“Lincolnshire Police Alcohol Licensing Team, in partnership with Immigration and HMRC, is committed to the investigation, detection and prevention of all offences associated with or around licensed premises.

“This includes illegally employing workers, human trafficking and exploitation of persons, as well as ensuring the safety of members of our communities using these venues.

“We would actively encourage members of the public to come forward with any information of this kind, either by contacting the police direct or ringing Crimestoppers anonymously”.

The decision of the Licensing Committee means Le Taj will no longer be able to sell any alcohol and will be unable to sell hot food past 11pm.

Both premises have 21 days to lodge an appeal against the decision, and if this is not made, the hearing decisions are implemented.

The Leader contacted the Le Taj, but they declined to comment.