A SHOP has been banned from selling alcohol and will have to pay a fine of £15,000 after immigration officers found an illegal worker.

Today's Local on Basingstoke Road was quizzed by Reading Borough Council's licensing team at a hearing on March 29.

The illegal worker said he had been at the shop since January 2014 and was being paid just £5.50 an hour - well below the minimum wage - following an inspection in June 2017.

Although he had entered the country legally, his visa had expired, which meant he had been working illegally at the Whitley shop for 'a couple of years'.

Richard French, a member of the licensing team for Reading Borough Council, said: "Four members of staff were encountered, three were cleared. The last member of staff was found to be an overstayer.

"The offender was encountered working behind the counter when officers entered the shop. He was interviewed and admitted to having worked at the shop since January 2014. He worked six days per week, sometimes seven, but normally got a day off.

"He worked from 7am to 5pm and was being paid £5.50 per hour. He confirmed the name of his boss. He stated that he was already working at the shop when he took over and he had never asked to see any identification.

"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.

"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 from the findings of the authority."

The shop avoided having its licence revoked in 2015 during a check for illegal alcohol, with several bottles of vodka found to be duty diverted.

An inspection was carried out at the store in June last year with assistance from Thames Valley Police and Immigration Enforcement officers.

The owner, Mr Singh Gurwara, will now have to pay a hefty fine and has the right to appeal the decision.