Three workers face being kicked out of the country after immigration officials swooped on an Indian restaurant.
An enforcement squad from the Home Office and police launched a surprise Friday-night raid at the Bombay Lounge in Dalkeith High Street.
We’ve done everything our lawyer asked us to do – checking national insurance and photo IDMichael Singh
Five men from Bangladesh and Nepal were arrested on suspicion of immigration offences, with three of them set to be deported.
The other two men, who are understood not to have worked at the Bombay Lounge, were freed, however they will be monitored by the Home Office.
Restaurant owner Michael Singh insisted that the raid was a routine matter and said he and his colleagues had co-operated fully with officers.
“It was just to check paperwork. We helped with their inquiries,” he said. “All our paperwork was up to date. They took away people to question them.”
He described the operation as “standard procedure”, adding that many businesses get “routine visits”.
Mr Singh told the News that the two younger Bangladeshi men who were released by the Home Office had not been working for him, and had instead been in the restaurant visiting friends.
And he said he had not heard from the Home Office since last Friday’s visit.
“We put on our website, ‘sorry for the inconvenience’,” he said. “We have been to a lawyer and he checked our paperwork. We have done everything our lawyer has asked us to do – checking national insurance and photo ID.”
Mr Singh added: “We have got a sponsored licence which means we can employ people from back home.”
Last year, Bombay Lounge, which opened in December 2010, was nominated for the best spice restaurant in the British Curry Awards, which Prime Minister David Cameron described as “the Oscars of British curry”. Chef Mexan Miah was also crowned Chef of the Year at the Scottish Curry Awards in April.
Businesses found to be employing illegal workers can face a maximum fine of up to £20,000 per person unless the employer can prove that full pre-employment checks had been carried out.
Those who have knowingly employed an illegal worker risk criminal prosecution, which can lead to an unlimited fine and up to two years imprisonment.
A spokesman for the Home Office said: “Officers carried out an operation at an address in High Street, Dalkeith, at 6pm on Friday, June 19. Five men were arrested on suspicion of immigration offences. Two Bangladeshi men, aged 33 and 35, and a 25-year-old Nepali man were detained while arrangements are made to remove them from the country.
“Two further Bangladeshi men, both aged 22, were later released but will continue to report to the Home Office while their cases are progressed.”
A police spokeswoman confirmed that officers had been at the raid as part of a joint operation.