Byron burgers boycotted after immigration row

Intu Chapelfield, where a new Byron Hamburgers is due to open. Photo: Steve Adams

Intu Chapelfield, where a new Byron Hamburgers is due to open. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

London-based hamburger company, Byron, who are hoping to set up shop in Norwich, are facing customer protests following a controversial Home Office immigration sting which saw 35 of their workers arrested and several people removed from the UK.

Customers have been pledging to boycott the chain, who have applied to open a new restaurant in Intu Chapelfield shopping centre, following an immigration row that started on July 4 when officials arrested 35 workers at various Byron restaurants, 25 of whom have since been removed from the country, including nationals from Brazil, Egypt, Albania and Nepal.

A Byron employee, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke with Spanish newspaper El Ibérico regarding the raids on July 4, and revealed that a group of staff were led to believe they were attending a training session but instead were taken into separate rooms and questioned by immigration officials.

The employee added that a senior worker had said: 'I'll be honest with you. We know what's going on and all this was prepared. This is not training. This is because we know we have people working illegally and we called the police.'

Protestors have since branded Byron's behaviour as 'unethical' and 'shameful' and have been acting out against the company, trending #BoycottByron on Twitter and releasing thousands of insects into their St Giles and Holborn branches.

Byron also released a statement following the raid, they said: 'We can confirm that several of Byron's London restaurants were visited by representatives of the Home Office. These visits resulted in the removal of members of staff who are suspected by the Home Office of not having the right to work in the UK, and of possessing fraudulent personal and right to work documentation that is in breach of immigration and employment regulation. The Home Office recognises that Byron as an employer is fully compliant with immigration and asylum law in its employment practices and that Byron had carried out the correct 'right to work' checks on staff members, but had been shown false/counterfeit documentation.'

The business added: 'At Byron we are proud of the diversity of our restaurant teams, built around people of all backgrounds and all walks of life. We have cooperated fully and acted upon the Home Office's requests throughout the course of the investigations leading to this action, and will continue to do so.'.

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The Holborn branch of Byron Hamburgers had to close on Monday as campaigners lined the pavement outside to protest.

Police officers lined the front of the branch in central London as the crowd hit out at the restaurant chain's handling of the incident.

More than 1,000 people clicked 'attending' on a Facebook event advertising the protest, but numbers at the protest were much lower.

The crowd were undeterred by the rain as they chanted 'Shame on Byron - no-one is illegal' and 'How do you want your burgers? Without deportation'.