Durham restaurant Lebaneat refused licence over concerns about history of illegal immigrants

A popular restaurant which had its licence to sell alcohol revoked over concerns about illegal workers has had its bid for a new licence rejected.

Friday, 5th July 2019, 12:34 pm
Updated Friday, 5th July 2019, 4:40 pm
Lebaneat in North Bailey, Durham.

The application had sought to install new a new team responsible for overseeing Lebaneat, in North Bailey, Durham.

But county bosses were urged to turn down the proposals by police who claimed there was not enough evidence the current licence holder, Ahmed Syed, had pulled back from overseeing day-to-day operations.

Stephen Mooney, a solicitor for Durham Constabulary, said: “We’re objecting because we still believe this place has the control and influence of Mr Sayed.

“Mr Sayed is the problem here, let’s not play down the importance of dealing with illegal workers and their exploitation, this is a premises subject to a lot of concerns in the last five months and very strong opinions from this committee.

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“We look at this and say it is still called Lebaneat, they will still be purchasing supplies from Lebaneat and Mr Sayed will still have 49 per cent of the business.”

On July 10 Mr Sayed is due before magistrates to challenge February’s decision to revoke his premises licence.

This was prompted by the restaurant’s ‘history of employing illegal workers’.

According to police, later in February, following the decision, a driver for the chain’s Lebaneat Express restaurant was found to be a failed asylum seeker following his involvement in a road collision.

Pierre Chidiac, who made the latest application, told members of Durham County Council’s Statutory Licensing Sub-Committee on July 5 he had acquired a 51 per cent share of the business after being approached by Mr Sayed.

“We’ve had a very long discussion about how we’ve come to the decision we’ve made and we’ve decided to refuse the application,” said Coun Jan Blakey, who chaired the panel.

“We’ve got no positive documentation other than the Companies House paperwork on how it is going to be run and we have concerns over the history of the illegal immigrants at the Lebaneat premises.

“We have concerns over Mr Sayed and his influence on this business and that the crime and disorder objectives won’t be protected.”