THREE suspected illegal immigrants were arrested during a raid on a North-East restaurant.

Two Syrian men and one Egyptian were detained on suspicion of being in the UK illegally during a raid on the popular Lebaneat restaurant in Durham on Friday night.

All three men were released while further investigations take place. A fourth man, a 30-year-old Tunisian, was escorted from the premises by immigration officers after checks revealed he did not have permission to work in the UK.

Immigration officers say the North Bailey restaurant is now facing a potential £80,000 fine unless it can prove that it carried out checks to prove all four men had a right to work in the UK.

Staff from the Immigration Enforcement unit at the Home Office say they were acting on intelligence when they raided the Lebanese restaurant.

Workers were questioned in relation to their immigration status and the three men were arrested.

A spokesman for Immigration Enforcement said: “They have since been granted temporary release while their cases are progressed, and will have to report regularly to the Home Office during this time”.

On the same night, raids were carried out on a warehouse in Ashington and a fish and chip shop in Blyth.

Assistant Director Phillippa Russell, from the North East and Cumbria Immigration Enforcement team, said: “These successful operations reflect our ongoing work to identify people abusing the UK’s immigration system.

“All of our operations are intelligence led and I would encourage people with detailed and specific information about illegal immigration to contact us.

“Using illegal labour is not victimless. It defrauds the Treasury, undercuts honest businesses and cheats legitimate job seekers of employment opportunities. It also exploits some of society’s most vulnerable people.

“Employers who do not carry out the simple checks to ensure their staff have the right to work in the UK will face the consequences.”