Three held after immigration raid on Mosque Kitchen

The Mosque Kitchen. Picture: Neil Hanna
The Mosque Kitchen. Picture: Neil Hanna

A RAID on Edinburgh’s popular Mosque Kitchen has left the restaurant facing a £60,000 fine after three men were arrested for immigration offences.

Enforcement officers stormed the Nicolson Square eatery on Wednesday afternoon after receiving “intelligence” of potential law-breaking.

Two Pakistani men, aged 29 and 31, were arrested for overstaying their visas, while a 17-year-old Romanian was arrested and charged in connection with an Identity Document offence.

A third Pakistani man, also aged 29, was escorted from the premises as he had no permission to work.

Immigration officials said the first two men were released while their cases are progressed – but must continue to report to the Home Office. Neither of the men had the right to work in the UK.

The third Pakistani man must also continue to report to the Home Office, while the 17-year-old was released on an undertaking to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court at a later date.

Mosque Kitchen now faces a potential penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker found, unless it can demonstrate the correct checks were carried out.

Wednesday’s raid is the second time in recent years that the popular eatery has fallen foul of immigration officials.

In 2013, it faced a fine of £70,000 after Home Office enforcers found seven illegal workers from Pakistan and India.

Stephen Roarty, from Immigration Enforcement, said the latest swoop was a “clear warning” to those abusing immigration laws that “wherever you are in the country, our dedicated and well-resourced teams will find you”.

He said: “The use of illegal labour is not victimless. It defrauds the taxpayer, undercuts genuine employers and denies legitimate job hunters work. We are happy to work with employers who want to play by the rules but those who flout them will face heavy financial penalties.

Previously based at the Edinburgh Central Mosque in Potterrow before moving to Nicolson Square, the Mosque Kitchen opened after September 11, 2001, to help improve relations with the Islamic community.

A spokesman for the restaurant declined to comment.