Stevenage takeaway forced to close after raid

A CHINESE takeaway in Stevenage was forced to close on Tuesday after a raid revealed all six members of staff were in the country illegally.

UK Border Agency officers for Herts and Essex visited Sam Pan Takeaway in the High Street shortly after 6pm and discovered that all five people working and a sixth, who turned out to be the head chef, resting in the staff accommodation above the takeaway were there illegally.

Officers found a Malaysian woman, 24, and two Chinese men, 25 and 40, who had all overstayed their visas, two Chinese men, 30 and 34, who were failed asylum seekers and a 34-year-old Chinese man who had entered the UK illegally.

Immigration officer Debra Johnson said: “Immigration checks proved that none of them had permission to be in the UK.

“Having already lost money as a result of having to close on the night of our visit, the business now faces the additional financial burden of a potentially substantial fine for employing these illegal workers and the head-ache of having to recruit a brand new work force.

“We are happy to work with employers to help them stay within the rules. But any business that takes on a foreign national without permission to work should be aware that they are breaking the law as well as undermining law-abiding employers.”

The Old Town-based business has now reopened but could face a potential fine of up to �60,000 - �10,000 per illegal worker – unless it can prove the correct pre-employment checks were carried out.

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The UK Border Agency is currently working to remove all six from the country.

*Anyone who suspects that illegal workers are being employed at a business in Hertfordshire can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or visit