Wholesaler Bestway has slammed the UK Border Agency (UKBA) after a raid last Thursday (10 November) on its depot at Kingsway Park, Liverpool, to find suspected illegal workers resulted in lost sales of around £70,000.
After a search by more than 50 officers and police dogs of the 80,000sq ft premises, one Bestway employee was apparently arrested, alongside one other person, who the wholesaler says was in fact was a customer doing his shopping.
Bestway said the member of staff, an Iraqi, was already known to the Home Office and the wholesaler’s HR department had been in touch with them in the previous few weeks in relation to the employee in question.
The company said in a statement: “It was Bestway that had recently brought to the attention of (and discussed with) the Home Office the details of the member of staff that was arrested during the raid.
“The Home Office requested, by email, that Bestway should continue to employ the person. Bestway agreed to assist the Home Office in their efforts.”
Dawood Pervez, Bestway’s legal director, said: “We feel very disappointed that we were not approached in a responsible manner to discuss any potential concerns and are greatly shocked that the UKBA thought a raid, from a tip-off, was an appropriate and responsible way to deal with the issue.
“The company has robust and thorough procedures on employment matters and has a long and successful relationship with the Home Office on all immigration matters, which seems to have been totally overlooked. The large majority of our 5000 employees are British citizens and we have never knowingly employed any illegal immigrants.”
He added: “The UKBA has, in a bad week for them elsewhere, been made to look foolish and must now be embarrassed by this action when it could have been so easily dealt with had they contacted us in a proper manner.
“We also feel they were extremely heavy handed in the manner in which they behaved, especially by arriving in the numbers of people and dogs involved, and also with three camera crews from various media organisations and journalists, who entered our premises while filming without any authorisation from us.
“We are a significant and professionally managed British business with Investors in People, ISO 5001 and many accolades and awards to our name and we very much object to the insinuation that we behave outside of the law when it comes to these matters.
“We have raised the matter at a senior level in government and the very least we expect is a full apology from the UKBA.”
The company added: “In addition to the professional slur upon the company, Bestway had to endure a forced closure of the depot for trading for around 150 minutes during the busiest part of the trading day. An estimated figure of £70,000 of sales was lost on the day.”