THE owner of an Indian restaurant has spoken out after his licence was temporarily suspended when illegal workers were found at the premises on numerous occasions.

Adib Ahmed Bachhu, owner of the Indian Tree at Market Place, Ringwood, contacted the Daily Echo to reassure customers that his business was still open and that he had appealed New Forest District Council’s decision.

The company’s licence was suspended at the end of last month following an extensive report by immigration officers.

Two men were arrested during a raid in April – one for having overstayed his visa, the other for having entered the country without leave.

It was one of several reported incidents where illegal workers had been found to be employed by the company.

In June 2012, five people were found to be working illegally and were arrested. It resulted in the business being fined £25,000. Six people were arrested for similar offences in April 2015 – incurring a £75,000 fine – and four people were identified as illegal workers in March 2016, leading to a £60,000 fine. One person was also found to be working illegally in October 2016, leading to a £10,000 fine.

All fines, the report claims, have yet to be paid.

But Mr Bachhu claims that he was not involved with hiring members of staff and disputes the immigration officer’s report.

“Until we have the decision from New Forest District Council about our appeal we will be trading as normal,” he said.

“Those previous fines have no connection with me. I wasn’t involved with them – I wasn’t the owner at the time. I have done everything by the book.”

A spokesman for New Forest District Council said: “The Indian Tree’s licence has been suspended for three months. The licence permits the sale of alcohol and the sale of hot food between 11pm and midnight. The business can continue to trade without the benefit of a licence during the period of suspension.

“The council’s decision which includes the suspension of the licence for three months will now not take affect as the licensee has appealed this decision. The appeal has been made to the magistrates’ court.”