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Reading premises licence revocation decision upheld

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Reading premises licence revocation decision upheld 8th April 2019

Reading Borough Council's Licence revocation decision upheld by District Judge District Judge Toms, sitting at Reading Magistrates Court, has upheld the decision taken by Reading Borough Council’s Licensing Sub Committee to revoke the premises licence for Todays Local, 441 Basingstoke Road, Reading.

The licence review was brought by Home Office Immigration Enforcement after an illegal worker was found on the premises during a multi-agency visit on 8th June 2017.

The illegal worker had been an overstayer since 2012; was not being paid the minimum wage and was not registered for tax and national insurance contributions. The review was supported with representations from the Licensing Authority; Thames Valley Police and Trading Standards.

Council officers had previously found counterfeit tobacco and duty diverted alcohol on sale at the premises whilst licensing officers found continuous and multiple breaches of the conditions stated on the premises licence.

The Council’s Licensing Sub Committee revoked the premises licence on 29th March 2018. The District Judge, in her written judgement delivered on 25th February 2019, stated that the Licensing Sub Committee’s decision was appropriate and proportionate at the time and remained correct at the time of the court hearing. She stated that the premises licence holder had aided and abetted an overstayer to remain in the country illegally; had not paid them the minimum wage; had not registered them for tax and national insurance and denied a UK citizen employment.

She further agreed that these practices could amount to exploitation linked to modern day slavery. The judge was also of the opinion that the premises licence holder knew the person was an overstayer, had accepted an immigration penalty of £15,000 in relation to the employment of one and had committed serious criminal offences in relation to the illegal worker and sale of counterfeit tobacco and alcohol. The offences taken together were not capable of remedial action owing to the serious nature of the criminal activity discovered. The Council were awarded costs of £3,690. Reading Borough Council were represented by Peter Savill of 12 CP Barristers.

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