Failed asylum seeker found "cutting kebabs" in Leyland takeaway

A takeaway in Leyland faces having its licence suspended or even revoked after a failed asylum seeker was discovered on the premises during a visit by council officers.

Tuesday, 4th June 2019, 12:10 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th June 2019, 1:10 am
The takeaway was taken over by its current owners in February 2018

The owner of Turkish Delight, on Preston Road in Farington, claims the Syrian man had turned up looking for work shortly before officials carried out a late night inspection in January.

But a meeting of South Ribble Borough Council’s licensing panel heard that the individual – who was last seen in London in 2017 before absconding after his asylum claim was refused – was dressed in an apron and preparing food.

Takeaway boss Abdoolah Hidari – who was not on the premises at the time – said the man had asked to be given training while he waited for an interview.

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“He had come in to have a chat about his experience – not everybody who is in the shop works there,” Mr Hidari’s son, Fahad, told the panel.

But the council’s head of licensing, Mark Marshall, said he was having “difficulty digesting” the explanation.

“A man arrives looking for work and yet just 20 minutes later he is embedded behind the counter and appears comfortable using the equipment,” Mr. Marshall said.

“He was cutting kebabs and serving food.”

The Syrian man told officers he was a refugee, but he could not present a relevant Home Office identity card. He has never since been traced and Mr Hidari said the family had not seen him again after the night of the council visit.

Members were also told that the outlet still does not have a CCTV system which is compliant with its licence – three months after it was ordered to install one.

Footage from the camera equipment was being retained for only nine days rather than the 31 stipulated in the licence conditions.

The Hidaris said the delay was the result of having to spend £3,000 on rectifying gas installations which were the subject of a separate investigation by environmental health officers. The meeting heard that the new camera system was due to be installed within days.

But Mark Marshall said the authority expected more than “empty promises” about how the “basic requirement” for new CCTV equipment would be complied with.

Officers visited the premises late on 19th January, having suspended the takeaway’s licence 24 hours earlier, because of non-payment of the annual renewal fee. That meant the shop should have stopped serving hot food after 11pm.

Written notification of that suspension had been delivered by hand to the takeaway when it was closed. Fahad Hidari said the document had not come to his father’s attention, because it was not addressed to a named individual.

“You didn’t send the letter to my Dad and when the officers visited it was handed back to them unopened,” he said.

The meeting heard that while the envelope was unaddressed, it did bear the words “Urgent – suspension of licence”, highlighted in yellow marker.

Officers were able to buy hot food shortly before 11.30pm – and, even after they identified themselves, staff continued to serve it.

Mr Hidari had taken over the business in February 2018, but had not transferred the licence into his own name, because he said he was unaware of the requirement to do so. The licence was put into Mr. Hidari’s name within days of the council’s visit.

Fahad Hidari told the meeting that the council officers who carried out the visit in January were "rude and threatening", but Mr. Marshall said that "a confrontation" had been sparked by a man on the premises who identified himself as "a friend" of the family - but was later found to be a member of staff.

The decision of the licensing panel, comprising three councillors, is expected to be published later this week. They were advised that a warning would not be a sufficient sanction.