Indian Palace Owner Admits to Employing Illegal Immigrants

From the Aberdeen Press and Journal:

A far north restaurateur yesterday admitted five charges involving employing illegal immigrants. 

Gulzar Miah did not make proper checks on the entitlement of four individuals to work, Wick Sheriff Court heard.  Three were taken away by police after they executed warrants on the Indian Palace, in Thurso, and the K2, in Wick, on May 29.  Further information led to the detention of the other man who had worked for two years at the Thurso restaurant.

The May raid took place while Miah, 36, was on bail, after he and three others were charged with setting fire to an Indian restaurant in Castletown, Caithness, in April.

Senior fiscal depute David Barclay said employers had a duty to check the documentation of potential employees to ensure they had a right to be in the UK and were entitled to work here: “I am advised by the immigration authorities that the background to most offences involving employers employing people who are here illegally is for their commercial gain. It was commented by one of the workers that the wages paid by the accused were low.”

Mr Barclay said Miah, who owns the K2 and co-owns the Indian Place, told police he was in charge of staff recruitment at both restaurants.

Miah, described as a prisoner in Inverness, pleaded guilty to the indictment of five charges under the Immigration Act 1971, four of which were committed while on bail.  Denying the claims of subsistence wages, solicitor David Hingston said the employees involved were paid £100 a week, in addition to their bed and board.

Sheriff Andrew Berry deferred sentence until September 4 for reports and further remanded Miah in custody.

I recall the sight of Strathclyde Police buzzing around Princes Street on that day, and finding out later it was connected to this. It seem axiomic amongst the political scene which I used to think myself part of that an amnesty should be provided for the hundreds of thousands of irregular migrants in the UK, such as is enunciated by the Strangers into Citizens campaign. An implication is that disagreement is borne out of [white] racism, and possibly pro-BNP; even thought I have heard anecdotal tales of West Indian Londoners bemoaning the squeeze on council resources exerted influxes of East European and other migrants.

The thought occurs that those calling most loudly are monied liberals insulated from any of the negative impact of increased demands on the social kitty, and enamoured with an idea of multiculturalism as opposed to cosmopolitanism. Especially that a collorary tends to be a belief in the continuation of a cradle-to-grave welfare system which is based on a stable user-base.

I have no personal gripe with the, presumably, now removed workers at the Indian Palace and K2 Restaurant. It jars, however, as someone who has applied for every available job in Thurso over the past year to know that labour was being imported from abroad. The plea by Gulzar Miah’s solicitor that the employees were receiving £100 per week, plus food and board, should be tempered by knowledge of the communal house in High Ormlie as well as one apparent former employee who responded to a previous missive of mine on the subject. One hundred pounds, after food and board, would be quite low if employees were working well in excess of a 40 hour week.

Miah is, of course, also excused of conspiring to set-fire to the Taj Mahal curry-house in Castletown, and owned by a rival British Bengali family. The whole plot seems to have been a comedy of errors from the begining, with three Wick residents also accused: they are reputed to have arrived by taxi, purchased the petrol for the fire from the adjacent garage and injured themselves in the fire.

My initial surprise at how completely the building was destroyed has been explained by talk of LPG cannisters being stored *within* the building. Speaking to the owner, Yasin Miah (no relation) as he was opening the new and rather excellent Taj Mahal in Halkirk, he told me that he had had less-than-minimum insurance.

Let us hope he has learnt a few lessons.

Both the Miahs had been keen to expand their businesses. Gulzar Miah currently still has the lease for the old newsagent on Traill Street, intended as a kebab shop although, judging by the lack of activity at the existing Indian Palace, I will be suprised if this comes to much. I have been told that Yasin Miah has expressed an interest in the now-closed bookies on Princes Street, but I imagine the offices above will object to another food establishment opening below.

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