12 March 2012

Embarrassment for Home Secretary as UK immigration authorities raid restaurant

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When Home Secretary Theresa May opened a new Indian restaurant in her Maidenhead constituency in May 2011, it's unlikely she envisioned that the next time her or her staff would visit the establishment, it would be as part of a UK immigration raid to arrest several illegal immigrants.

UK visa

Home Secretary Theresa May might choose to stick to Chinese food for a while.

Mrs May officially cut the ribbon at the Innovation restaurant in Maidenhead in May, 2011, pictures of her cutting the ribbon and enjoying the cuisine still adorn the walls. But her well-publicised love of spicy food is likely to be soured after UK immigration officials raided the restaurant last week.

Immigration officials allegedly found one failed asylum seeker and as many as four people thought to have overstayed their UK visa restrictions on the premises.

Abdush Siddiquei, the owner of the restaurant which serves Indian and Bangladeshi cuisine, insisted the incident had been a misunderstanding.

"|There are political problems in Bangladesh and they came here legally to claim asylum but their visas had run out."

Mr Siddiquei faces a fine of up to £50,000 if he cannot prove he did not employ the men.

"They weren't working here," said Mr Siddiquei. "It is mainly my family that works in this place".

He added that he was "really upset" if he had caused any embarrassment to Mrs May. Mrs May, on opening the restaurant in May said "I know a lot of people will have very good times here to enjoy the food and the conviviality."

These reports are the latest in a string of embarrassments for Mrs May during her time as Home Secretary; another restaurant she frequents in Cookham, Malik's, was also raided by immigration officials in 2010 while her relaxation of border controls last summer prompted a full blown inquiry.

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