A POPULAR Asian restaurant is at risk of losing its premises licence after three illegal workers were found in the kitchen.

Immigration Enforcement carried out a joint inspection of Beijing Noodle House with the council in May and found a trio of Nepalese men in chef whites.

All of the men were questioned and subsequently arrested after it became apparent that they had been working illegally at the West Street eatery.

Two of them had overstayed beyond the expiration of their visa, while another had entered the country unlawfully.

Reading Borough Council's Licensing Applications Sub-Committee is due to meet on January 10 to review the licence for the premises.

The owner, Dipak Gurung, was unavailable for questioning, but his daughter - who works as a waitress - said they were trainee cooks.

All three men confirmed that they were never asked to produce any right to work documentation and one was being paid £350 to work as many as 50 hours per week.

Richard French, a licensing officer for the council, said: "Failure to pay the minimum wage is evidence of further criminality and it appears that the relevant tax contributions were not being paid or declared.

"This could be defined as exploitation of workers who had no right to work in the UK, which also undercuts law abiding employers who play by the rules.

"No credible explanation as to why the illegal workers were found was given by the premises management."

The latest breach of the licence followed an earlier visit in February last year.

Council officers raised concerns about a string of failings at the eatery on this occasion.

None of the staff were authorised to sell alcohol and there was no evidence of any age verification policy in place.

The council recently issued a warning to the town's businesses, urging them to be compliant when it came to obeying the terms of their licence.

A number of businesses have been forced to surrender the privileges that come with having a licence, including the sale of alcohol and rights to play music at particular hours.