Agency raids put us through hell

Beveridge Park Hotel
Beveridge Park Hotel

THE OWNER of a Kirkcaldy hotel has appealed to the UK Border Agency to leave him alone to get on with running his business.

Bobby Kumar’s emotional plea came after Fife Licensing Board narrowly allowed him to keep his drinks licence for Beveridge Park Hotel after he was fined at Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court following an agency raid.

Last month he pleaded guilty to a charge of facilitating illegal immigration and was fined and faced a £15,000 civil penalty.

But he says it was an administrative error - and he wants the Borders Agency to back off after staging no fewer than five raids in two years.

At Monday’s board hearing, councillors decided to issue a written warning rather than bar him from selling alcohol.

The agency had asked for the review after 11 foreign nationals were caught working there illegally during a 20-month period between July 2010 and March 2012.

But Mr Kumar hit back: “I have co-operated fully with the Agency but it feels like we are being persecuted. If they had a lot of evidence relating to 11 workers why didn’t the case go to trial?

‘‘It is now turning into victimisation first with all the raids and now they are trying to take away my licence.

‘‘At the hearing my lawyer pointed out this is an employment issue - not a licencing issue, but the Agency won’t leave us alone.”

Mr Kumar was also highly critical of the level of resources deployed on the raids.

He said: “There were 40-50 officers surrounding the hotel. The road was cordoned off and all they got were two people - there was no need for it.”

Mr Kumar said he had now endured five raids, but claims the agency has failed to produce a lot of evidence from them.

He accepted administrative errors were made and have been addressed, adding: “I had the paperwork for all the workers - they were all given wage slips, paid above the minimum wage and paid tax and national insurance. They had visas allowing them to work in the UK but some ran out and we didn’t know about it.

‘‘We took it at face value some of the workers were on student visas and were on holiday from college but they weren’t.

“We need help so we can carry on making the Beveridge Park Hotel a success. We have been through a lot of stress and financial problems as a result of all this and we just want to put it behind us.”

“We have a really good staff who support us and provide the service we require and without them our business would not survive.

‘‘All our money has gone into the hotel and we have worked hard. We just want to get on with our lives.”

Carolyne Lindsay from the UK Border Agency’s Criminal and Financial Investigation team said: “We take the abuse of our immigration laws extremely seriously.

‘‘Employing illegal workers undercuts honest businesses and defrauds the public purse, and we are working closely with other law enforcement agencies and public bodies to ensure those involved in these criminal activities face the consequences of their actions.”