The owner of Lebaneat has been fined £20,000 after the discovery of a suspected illegal worker at their North Bailey restaurant.
On Wednesday 4th September, Durham and Cleveland police officers visited three Lebaneat restaurants in Durham City and Yarm. This resulted in the discovery of the possibly illegal worker, and subsequently the imposition of the fine.
The officers also discovered a number of other breaches, including breaches of food hygiene standards, and building regulations, and minimum wage payments to staff, which are currently under review.
This is not the first time that the restaurant chain has had runins with the law. Police discovered illegal workers at the North Bailey and Claypath premises in August 2018, and the restaurant lost its alcohol license consequence. The owner has also made repeated unsuccessful attempts to
regain the license.
Ahmed Sayed, the owner of the Durham chain, was previously fined £30,000 for similar employment practices after a visit from the Home Office.
Following this discovery, police have urged citizens to keep an eye out for suspicious activity.
Kevin Benson, who organised the investigation, said his “main aim is to protect vulnerable people from exploitation” and stressed that it is “very important” that the public are vigilant.
This news has sparked outrage among locals and students alike. One Durham local told Facebook that he believed that “the restaurants should be closed.”
This sentiment was echoed by a Durham student in conversation with Palatinate, and they expressed their shock that “the chain is somehow able to keep running.”
When contacted, Sayed declined to comment.
Image by Will Hutchings