Illegal worker hid in cupboard at popular city restaurant

Lebaneat Wrap House, left, in Cl;aypath, Durham city.
Lebaneat Wrap House, left, in Cl;aypath, Durham city.

An illegal worker was found hiding in a cupboard when immigration officials raided a popular Durham restaurant.

At least four employees of the Lebaneat chain were discovered when police visited premises in the city on August 2.

The business has had an application to amend its licence to operate refused after police raised concerns bosses were not upholding ‘the standards we expect’.

Speaking at Durham County Council’s Statutory Licensing Sub-Committee, PCSO Rebecca Carey, who was on the raid, said: “There were two illegal workers in the Wrap House [in Claypath], one in the kitchen and one was hidden in a cupboard.

“A further two were found at the North Bailey Lebaneat.”

After being asked what they were doing when officers entered the building, she added: “At the Wrap House, one man was making bread, the other tried to hide when we came in the building.

“At Lebaneat [in North Bailey], both worked in the kitchen and were cooking at the time we entered the kitchen.”

A third takeaway premises, Lebaneat Express, was also visited by officers who discovered illegal workers, but police told councillors immigration officials had yet to provide statements on that.

Ahmed Sayed, who was listed as company director at Lebaneat, insisted all staff at Lebaneat Express were ‘legal to work’, while of the two at the Wrap House one was on a trial shift and the other was one his first day.

He also claimed Lebaneat ‘technically does not have any employees’ and workers are instead employed through a separate company, Sayed Trading Limited.

Mr Sayed had been been seeking to have the premises licence for the Wrap House transferred to Oksana Sayed.

A separate application also requested Mrs Sayed be made the Wrap House’s designated premises supervisor (DPS).

Mrs Sayed had been manager at both Lebaneat and the Wrap House at the time of the operation.

But a letter of objection from Durham Constabulary raised concern about this, noted her current position as manager and criticised her apparent lack of knowledge of employment regulations.

It was also claimed in the meeting Mrs Sayed was on annual leave at the time of the raid, despite police recording her being present.

Rejecting the applications, committee chairman Coun Colin Carr said: “The simple situation is the incidents on August 2 were illegal, the proposed DPS [Mrs Oksana Sayed] was on holiday and someone signed on your behalf – we’re concerned about that.

“You don’t understand licensing law at all, from what we can see, and we’re very concerned you will have have premises running for the public, which you may be running illegally and you’ve been running these premises for two years.

“We have no alternative but to refuse both applications.”