POLICE are calling for a restaurant owner to lose his licence after he was fined £30,000 for employing illegal workers in his kitchens.

It is not the first time Durham restauranteur Sayed Ahmed, who owns three branches of Lebaneat in the city, has faced sanctions from the Home Office.

Durham Police has now called for the licences at two restaurants in North Bailey and Claypath to be revoked because of concerns over Lebaneat’s employment practices.

The Northern Echo: Four people questioned by immigration officers after raid on Lebaneat restaurant in DurhamFour people questioned by immigration officers after raid on Lebaneat restaurant in Durham

Lebaneat, in North Bailey, Durham

A review is due to be heard by Durham County Council’s licensing committee next week.

Sgt Caroline Dickenson, from the alcohol harm reduction unit, said Mr Sayed had shown a “complete disregard” for licensing laws and said he was choosing to “exploit legislation for the purpose of profit”.

She said: “It is Durham Constabulary’s position that it is a very serious matter to employ workers who do not have the right to work in the UK.”

Home Office immigration officers visited the restaurants last August, when a number of people were found who were suspected of working illegally.

Mr Sayed has now been fined £20,000 in respect of two people found to be working illegally at the Wrap House in Claypath and another £10,000 in relation to the North Bailey premises.

The Northern Echo:

The Lebaneat Wrap House in Claypath, Durham

The Home Office issued the fines this month following its investigation. They are due to be paid in February.

After the visit by officers in August, it emerged that the licence fee for the Claypath premises had not been paid in two years and the designated premises holder was in the name of someone who was no longer in the country.

Mr Sayed, who wants to open a branch in Bishop Auckland, appeared before the licensing committee last September, when he was seeking to transfer the premises licence.

While Mr Sayed told the committee in September that the restaurant had been operating a “bring your own booze” policy, this was disputed by PCSO Rebecca Carey, who said police had seen alcohol being sold in August.

The licence review will be heard on Tuesday, when an applications to transfer the premises licence for the Claypath restaurant and to name Mr Sayed as the designated premises supervisor will also be considered.

In 2016, Lebaneat was served a notice warning after one of its workers was found to have overstayed his visa.