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Supermarket banned from selling alcohol after immigration raid

PUBLISHED: 10:52 18 October 2019

Village Rise Supermarket in Lowestoft. PHOTO: Reece Hanson

Village Rise Supermarket in Lowestoft. PHOTO: Reece Hanson

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A Lowestoft supermarket has been banned from selling alcohol after an immigration raid.

Saravanai Nagendram, who has operated the Village Rise Supermarket, on Weston Road, for five years, employed a woman in breach of her visit visa, East Suffolk Council's licensing sub-committee heard on Thursday, October 17.

The Home Office applied to review its premises licence "with the intention to prevent illegal working at the premises," the meeting heard.

Councillors opted to revoke Mr Nagendram's licence, with Keith Robinson, who chaired the meeting, saying there were concerns a further breach could happen again in the future.

Speaking at the meeting, Home Office representative Jack Davis said: "On April 25 immigration officers visited following intelligence and found a female member of staff behind the counter while alcohol and cigarettes were on sale.

"She was found to be an Indian national and was arrested. A diary was found that showed she worked a number of shifts since November 21, 2018.

"Officers spoke to Mr Nagendram and he admitted he had not asked for her ID and right to work.

"There was someone who spoke little English left at the shop for a significant period of time and was allowed to sell alcohol and cigarettes without the required training.

"We wouldn't want to prevent a business from serving their community and flourishing in the future, but he didn't understand anything about immigration checks."

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The woman left the UK on May 17.

Graham Hopkins, representing Mr Nagendram, said at the meeting: "This is his sole livelihood and he is a father-of-three.

"There are no previous breaches of the licence and no sales to underage people.

"He is really sorry for his shortcomings. His current staff are all legal and above board.

"When I first met him he didn't understand the right-to-work protocol. It was not a deliberate attempt to break the law.

"He has already paid his civil penalty, and has had an expensive lesson. I don't think he will employ anyone again just because they know his wife.

"His wife knew the lady from talking to her in the town centre. When she asked for work he thought nothing of it.

"It wasn't exploitation and he has not tried to cover it up. It was a genuine mistake.

"He is an honest, hard-working family man."

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