A Bradford businessman who is UKIP’s small business spokesman has been defended by his party after it emerged that seven people were arrested for immigration offences in a raid at one of his restaurants.
Amjad Bashir, whose family run the Zouk Tea Bar and Grill in Leeds Road, Bradford, was accused of hypocrisy by an MEP after it emerged that a sister restaurant in Manchester was raided by the authorities on June 1 last year.
Seven people were arrested on suspicion of not possessing valid work permits.
Mr Bashir is second on the list of candidates for his party in the Yorkshire and Humberside seat in the European elections held on Thursday.
It had been reported that three days after the raid, Mr Bashir, 61, resigned as a director of the company – but UKIP said yesterday that he had resigned weeks before.
He is still a major shareholder and has a role in running the restaurant.
The Border Agency said three of the seven arrested were working at the restaurant in breach of visas and were removed from the country.
Three of the further cases remain under investigation and another of the arrested workers has been granted temporary leave to remain in the country.
Mr Bashir set up the business with his two sons, Tayub and Mudassar. All deny any wrongdoing, and are appealing against the notice and have not yet paid the fine.
Liberal Democrat MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, Edward McMillan-Scott, who has a constituency office in Killinghall Road, Bradford, said: "Forget the obvious hypocrisy; employing illegal immigrants is exploitative and against the law. People like Mr Bashir should not have double standards.”
Mr Bashir would not comment to the Telegraph & Argus, saying it was now a legal matter, but in a statement a UKIP spokesman offered a different version of events to that provided by the Border Agency.
He said: "On June 1, 2013, nearly a month after Mr Bashir resigned, the restaurant was raided without notice by UK Border Agency officials.
"Subsequently, the Agency accepted that three of the seven were entitled to work but civil penalty notices were issued in respect of the remaining four.
“The company has appealed against two of the penalty notices on the grounds the two employees' documents were valid. The appeal is yet to be heard.
"In the other two cases, the company submits that there are compelling mitigating circumstances. The individuals were temporary workers engaged on a busy Saturday night to fill unexpected staff absences.
“Neither had been employed previously by Mr Bashir or Zouk. Neither was known, either to him or the restaurant.
"Prior to engaging them for this single night, the restaurant manager examined their passports and visas, which appeared to be valid.”
e-mail: mark.stanford