A CURRY house in Pangbourne has kept its licence to sell alcohol after councillors backtracked on their previous decision to revoke it. 

Miah’s of Pangbourne, on 26 Reading Road, was found to have three people working there illegally last summer. 

Immigration enforcement officers inspected the restaurant in June 2018, and found a chef, barman and waiter without the right to work. 

The chef had entered the UK illegally, while the barman and waiter had overstayed their visas.

The waiter was carrying a tray of poppadoms when the officers entered the restaurant. He then sat down at a table, and said he was a customer.

The chef and barman said they had been working but had not been paid. Instead they received three meals a day and free board in a room above the restaurant. 

Because of the illegal workers, councillors on the licensing sub-committee at West Berkshire Council decided to revoke the licence on October 23 last year. 

However, because four councillors sat on the committee, instead of the legally required three, that decision was invalid. And so another licensing sub-committee heard the review today, October 16. 

This review was treated as a new application, and councillors decided this time not to revoke because of a lack of evidence. 

Councillor James Cole, chair of the committee, said: “We are quite disappointed that there had been no further investigation by [immigration enforcement] in the past year. We just did not get enough evidence to justify revoking the licence.”

Read more: Curry house loses illegal workers appeal

Immigration enforcement has been to all three Miah’s restaurants: in Pangbourne, Spencers Wood, and Wokingham Road in Reading. In total across all three, they found 12 people working illegally.

When they inspected the Spencers Wood restaurant, on August 31 this year, they arrested a chef, working illegally, who was hiding in the fridge. 

Jon Payne, the lawyer representing the restaurant, said when immigration enforcement inspected the Pangbourne restaurant, Jamshed Miah was the licence holder. He said the three people working illegally were on trial shifts to see if they were suitable. 

According to the lawyer, Mr Miah handed over the business to his son Mouadjul in October, who was not involved in managing the business last summer. Mr Payne said: “He was working there from time to time but not managing staff.”

However, Mouadjul Miah, during the inspection last summer, told officers he was the manager of the restaurant and responsible for employing staff — contradicting what his lawyer said. 

Read more: Miah's Garden of Gulab loses licence after illegal workers found

Councillors afterwards heard an application to transfer the licence to Mouadjul, the son. Thames Valley Police objected to the application, saying that Jamshed, the father, was still actually running the business. 

PC Simon Wheeler said: “It is more than possible he is applying for the role as purely a ‘figure head’, with the objective of enabling a ruse to prevent sanction against illegal activity.”

A decision on the transfer of the licence will be published within the next five working days.