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Balham restaurant exploiting its staff loses licence after Home Office raid Published Date: 09/01/2024

When Home Office immigration officials acting on a tip-off visited The Lebanese Garden Lounge in Balham High Road, they found five people working there who had no right to work in the UK.

They told investigators they were being paid well below the minimum with one saying he was receiving only meals at the restaurant and no money. The owner Mr Karim Ali denied these claims but was able to offer no evidence to support his denials and no adequate explanation was given for his paying employees less than the minimum wage.

As a consequence the Home Office successfully applied to the council to revoke the restaurant’s licence in June of last year.

And just before Christmas, magistrates rejected the owner’s appeal against the council’s decision - meaning the Lebanese Garden Lounge is no longer permitted to sell late night refreshments after 11pm.

The court also ordered the business owner Mr Ali to pay the council’s legal costs of just under £15,000.

Head of Licensing Caroline Sharkey said:

“This case sends out two strong messages to licence holders that they must not employ people whose immigration status means they are not allowed to work and they must not exploit any staff members by paying them less that the minimum wage.

“Business owners who flout these simple rules run the very real risk of losing their licence.”