Nine arrests made during immigration raid at popular Chinatown restaurant

A popular city centre restaurant was raided by immigration officers who made nine arrests.

Four men and five women, all Chinese nationals, were held during the operation at Pearl City on George Street in Manchester’s Chinatown.

Shocked diners told how one woman was marched out of the venue’s kitchens by immigration enforcement officers in handcuffs.

The Home Office said the nine people arrested, who are aged between 27 and 47, are all suspected of working illegally and have been detained ‘pending their removal from the UK’.

Police were also involved.

The Home Office said the restaurant was now facing a potential fine of up to £180,000, unless evidence could be provided that correct pre-employment checks on the nine people were carried out.

Pearl City said a new manager took over the restaurant this month and had not yet reviewed employees’ paperwork, adding: “We regret this has happened.”

One diner told the M.E.N: “At about 8pm on Friday we were sat at our table when about 10 officers in uniform came in. I believe they were immigration officers and possibly police.

“They went into the kitchen where there was a lot of shouting. One woman worker was brought out into the restaurant in handcuffs.

“The officers then proceeded to interview her. They advised diners to leave and it seemed to be quite a substantial operation. People were told that if they weren’t in the middle of their meals, they should go as it could take a long time.”

The Home Office said immigration enforcement officers carried out the raid after receiving intelligence.

(Image: Manchester Evening News.)

A spokesman said checks found five had entered the UK illegally and four had overstayed their visas.

The spokesman added: “Pearl City was served a civil penalty referral notice warning that a financial penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal worker found will be imposed unless the employer can demonstrate that appropriate right-to-work document checks were carried out, such as seeing a passport or Home Office document confirming permission to work.

“This is a potential total of up to £180,000 for nine people who evidence suggested were working illegally.”

Adam San, from Manchester’s Immigration Enforcement team, said: “Employers should remember to carry out simple ‘right to work’ checks before they employ staff.

“We are happy to work with businesses to ensure the right pre-employment checks are carried out, but those intent on operating outside the law will be found and will face a heavy financial penalty. Using illegal labour is not victimless. It cheats the taxpayer, undercuts honest businesses and cheats legitimate job seekers of employment opportunities.”

Pearl City manager Frankie Lee said he was unable to check over the details of the employees as he only took over at the restaurant at the start of January.

Mr Lee added: “We regret this has happened.”