Home Office probes supermarket bosses caught hiring illegal Afghan immigrants

Buy 2 Save International Supermarket. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Buy 2 Save International Supermarket. Picture: Polly Hancock. - Credit: Archant

Bosses of a Golders Green supermarket repeatedly caught employing illegal immigrants from Afghanistan and Pakistan are facing a Home Office probe.

Kalender and Mustafa Cakir, who run Buy 2 Save International Supermarket in Golders Green Road, were caught with five illegal members of staff – some believed to have entered the UK as stowaways – in the space of three months this year.

Home Office immigration officers arrested two Afghan men at the store in April who were working illegally with fake Italian ID cards and then arrested a further three illegal workers, two Afghan and one Pakistani, during another search of the shop in July.

All of the workers have since been deported and the store’s management is now under investigation by the Home Office.

On Monday, the premises licence for the store – enabling it to sell alcohol – was revoked by Barnet Council after police ordered a review in light of the immigration breaches.

Barnet Police licensing officer Sgt Mark Altman said: “We would have expected that after the first visit in April, they would have put their house in order.

“It actually got worse between the April visit and the next visit. This is wholly unacceptable and we see too much of it in the UK as a whole.

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“The duty is on the employer, they should conduct checks – they commit offences if they don’t do that. This puts out a message that there is zero tolerance for this.”

On April 14, immigration officers swooped on the shop and caught two men attempting to flee out of the rear door. The officers arrested two Afghan men who were found to have entered the UK illegally.

Manager Kalender Cakir claimed he was given Italian ID cards for both workers and was unaware they did not entitle them to work.

Immigration officers then arrested another three men, who were found to be illegally living in the UK, during a second raid of the shop on July 18.

One of the men, an Afghanistan national, told immigration officers he had entered the UK without a visa by hiding in the back of a lorry from France and arriving in Leeds or Bradford.

He said he was “only helping out” and did not get paid and did not know who his boss was.

Barrister Leo Charalambides, representing the Cakirs, said: “The problem is quite simple – there is fake ID floating around – what needs to happen here is a more robust new recording system.

“We are a convenience store, people do approach us looking for casual work and that was the case with the Afghan individuals.”

Cllr Maureen Braun, chairman of the council’s licensing sub-committee, said revocation of the licence was the “only proportionate decision” in light of the repeated breaches between April and July.