A POPULAR Chinese restaurant has been forced to surrender its licence after a string of immigration offences and breaches of food safety measures.

China Palace on Oxford Road has been caught employing 11 illegal worker overs the last six years and has been fined more than £60,000 by Immigration Enforcement Officers.

Councillor Paul Woodward, of Reading Borough Council's licensing sub-committee, said he 'had never seen such a serious case' during his time as chair at the hearing on Tuesday evening.

Eleven illegal workers were discovered at China Palace across three visits since March 2011 and July, including four in the most recent inspection.

Richard French, licensing officer for the council, said: "The employment of four illegal workers [by China Palace] and their possible exploitation for financial gain is clearly an extremely serious criminal offence.

"Revocation of the licence should - even in the first instance - be seriously considered.

"There are no acceptable excuses or justification that can be offered for this."

Three male Chinese workers and one young Malaysian woman were found at China Palace on July 13, working illegally as either kitchen staff or waiting tables.

In 2015, a male worker attempted to flee , while a young woman changed her clothes and posed as a customer before she was caught.

China Palace was also found to be in violation of several food safety measures, with no staff training in place.

Simon Wheeler, from Thames Valley Police's licensing team, said there was nothing about the current management that 'inspired' him to believe they could make improvements.

Owner Huichang Yin suggested progress had been slow because China Place 'needed £100,000' to bring the business up to scratch.

As well as failing to carry out right to work checks, several workers were paid cash in hand and significantly below the minimum wage.

The council's environmental health team raised concerns about an 'open sewer' in the kitchen and said raw meat had been exposed to cross contamination.

China Palace was handed a hygiene rating of 0 out of 5 after inspectors found mould in the kitchen.

The licence was due to be reviewed on October 24, but the hearing was abandoned after the owner's teenage son was forced to interpret.