A Norfolk restaurant has had its licence temporarily suspended despite Home Office recommendations of a harsher penalty. 

The Raj in Loddon was raided by an immigration enforcement team as part of an "intelligence-led" operation in October and two men were arrested.

Mohammed Uddin, the manager of the business, has now seen his premises licence revoked by South Norfolk Council for one month. The restaurant will remain open during this time but will not be able to serve alcohol. 

This is despite recommendations from the Home Office that the licence be removed permanently due to "concerns for the business in the future".

The investigation found there were two illegal workers at the premises, out of a total of four staff members, at the time of the raid. The Home Office also found that Mr Uddin compensates his workers by giving them food, rather than financial payment.

Mr Uddin denied these claims and said the men were there to do some cash-in-hand cleaning jobs, and had never worked at the restaurant before.

READ MORE: 'Locals' pub' in second homes hotspot closes... because of a lack of locals

Jack Davis, representing the Home Office, said there were "a glaring number of inconsistencies" in Mr Uddin's story. 

He added: "The decision of the council depends on the kind of message they want to send."

Eastern Daily Press: The Raj in Bridge StreetThe Raj in Bridge Street (Image: Denise Bradley)Councillors said they "deliberated long and hard" over their verdict, requesting five working days to reach a decision, but ultimately chose to disregard the advice of the Home Office due to Mr Uddin's lack of previous warnings.

During his hearing at South Norfolk Council, Mr Uddin said: "I've been running this restaurant for many years and I haven't experienced anything like this in my life.

"I was so scared when the officers arrived, there were so many of them. It caused me to say things I did not mean.

"I have now understood that I must do the proper checks for anyone coming to do any kind of work.

"I want to thank everyone in Loddon. All of the local people have supported me."