THE owner of an Indian restaurant is paying a £30,000 fine – but has been allowed to keep his premises licence – after four of his workers were arrested by immigration officers.

Cookson Spice, in Chester-le-Street, was investigated by the Home Office following the visit by immigration officers last November.

Officers visited the restaurant on November 18 last year, when they arrested four men for immigration offences.

Mr Ahmed was given a £30,000 civil penalty by the Home Office, which he has started to pay.

The investigation sparked a review of owner Jaman Uddin Ahmed’s licence to sell alcohol at the restaurant in Cookson Terrace.

A committee of Durham County Councillors heard Mr Ahmed had employed the services of licensing consultant Tim Robson to ensure he and his staff were properly trained in procedures around making sure employees are allowed to work in the UK.

Matthew Foster, his solicitor said: “Prior to the development of this building it was a pub and the area historically had issues with crime and disorder in the streets adjacent to Cookson Terrace. This premises has not had any issues prior to the visit from the Home Office.

“Mr Ahmed has had a very difficult time growing up and at school as a result of dyslexia and has resulted in poor paperwork.

“We are not saying this is not serious but he has done his best to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

Mr Robson detailed some of the work done with the business to ensure checks of employment status are made.

He said: “All in all I’m satisfied with the receptiveness of Mr Ahmed and his employees.

“He understands the seriousness of not thoroughly checking individuals who might not have the right to work.

“He will now move forward with his eyes wide open.”

Immigration officer Mark Thorley, who had requested the review, said he was satisfied with extra conditions being added to Mr Ahmed’s licence.

He said: “We’re finding it quite difficult on visits because we get a lot of business owners who don’t want us on the premises and don’t have their paperwork.

“If they have policies which enable us to get in and see what we need to then that’s best for everyone.

“We’re not here to ruin any one’s business. Mr Ahmed has had his fine. We would be satisfied with some conditions added.”