A RESTAURANT owner cleared of any wrongdoing in an immigration row over one of his former employees said he is now looking to rebuild the business’s reputation.

The Home Office told Hafiz Nur Mohammed, of Balti Mahal, he could be forced to pay up to £20,000 unless he proved appropriate right-to-work document checks were carried out.

This came after a 29-year-old Bangladeshi man was arrested last August at the restaurant by immigration officers for overstaying the limit on his visa.

However, Mr Mohammed, 56, has always denied that he knowingly employed someone without the right-to-work in the UK – and said he provided the documents to prove it in August.

Nevertheless, he was issued a civil penalty on November 22, 2018.

A spokesman for the Home Office told the Worcester News this week: “The employer submitted an objection containing further information and following consideration of this, the penalty was cancelled.”

Mr Mohammed said the penalty was officially cancelled on January 2 and confirmed the man no longer works at the restaurant.

He said: “The consequences of that raid are we have lost our excellent reputation and lots of our loyal customers – we have passed a tough time.

“It takes time to build up a reputation in an area and it’s difficult to get it back after something like this.

“Fortunately, we have got a strong family bond and support, otherwise the business could have gone.

“We were really struggling for months afterwards. Then regulars started coming back,” he added.

The Home Office had said at the time of the raid, the man was being prepared for deportation but later said he has been bailed with the case ongoing.

A spokesman this week told us they didn’t know whether the man was still in the UK, while Mr Mohammed said he is unaware of his location.

Prior to hiring the man in question, Mr Mohammed said he was presented with the copies of the documents he requested, including a British passport – which he also showed to us. He has not seen the originals.

“We have done our duty, as it is a British passport, so we don’t need to see a work permit,” he said at the time.

During the raid, Mr Mohammed said immigration officers, supported by police, were given the same papers but later returned and arrested the employee anyway.