AN ILLEGAL worker was detained at an off-licence after giving a false statement to immigration officers.

Ariana News on Oxford Road is at risk of losing its licence to sell alcohol after a 25-year-old Afghan man was found working at the shop in October.

Reading Borough Council's Licensing team will hold a hearing on January 11 to decide if Ariana News can continue to sell booze.

Enforcement Officers visited the premises along with Thames Valley Police (TVP) on October 4 and the illegal worker was detained after he was seen serving customers.

The review of the licence has also been called due to a backlog of concerns over the sale of alcohol to street drinkers and other breaches of the licence conditions.

Richard French, part of the council's Licensing team, said: "The employment of illegal workers is to be regarded as a crime that should be taken particularly seriously and that revocation of the premises licence - even in the first instance - should be seriously considered.

"TVP received a number of reports that the premises was selling alcohol to street drinkers and potentially other individuals who may be intoxicated.

"Officers noted that a group of individuals were openly drinking in the car park on the left hand side of the premises and that the area was being used for street drinkers to congregate.

"Allowing this premises to continue to operate with the benefit of a premises licence will merely serve to perpetuate the criminal activity and human exploitation already apparent.

"The only appropriate and proportionate step to promote the licensing objectives and safeguard the public as a whole, is for the licence to be revoked.

"The employment of illegal workers; the issues surrounding street drinking and selling to drunks at the premises and along Oxford Road, the licensing breaches and the fact that the premises has been reviewed previously, indicate a serious undermining of the licensing objectives and a lack of responsible retailing."

During the October inspection, further breaches were identified, including concerns over the CCTV system at the shop and no staff training records could be produced.

Ariana News had its licence reviewed and suspended in May 2009 after failing age related test purchases.

Mohammad Seyed Ashrafi will have the chance to defend the business at the hearing.