Immigration cops raid Derby city councillor Balbir Sandhu's factory
BORDER police raided a clothing factory owned by a leading city politician yesterday, leading to the arrest of five illegal immigrants.
The officers were acting on a tip-off when they targeted the A Star clothing factory belonging to Normanton ward councillor Balbir Sandhu.
All 40 staff were questioned while the UK Border Agency officers checked their immigration status with fingerprint scanners.
Labour councillor Mr Sandhu said he was "shocked" when the officers burst into his factory in Stanhope Street at about 10.30am.
The former chairman of Derby and Derbyshire Race and Equality Commission and of the Indian Community Centre, said: "There were 30 of them.
"They looked at the paperwork and spoke to some women. They had doubts about a few women and they took them away.
"I was totally surprised to find out they were illegal immigrants. I looked at their passports and national insurance certificates when they started and checked the photos. I can't do anything deeper than that.
"Only one of the women was new, the others have worked here for eight years and been on the payroll and paid tax and insurance so I'm totally shocked if they're illegal."
The UK Border Agency said four women, from India and Pakistan, were arrested after it was confirmed they had no right to be in the UK. They had either overstayed visas or illegally entered the country.
Another woman was escorted off the premises after it was found that she was already known to the agency as an immigration offender and regularly reporting on bail.
Agency officers also visited several residential addresses to check passports and identity documents.
During a search of a property in Dale Road, Derby an Indian man was arrested after checks showed that he had no permission to be in the UK.
The five illegal immigrants have been held while the UK Border Agency takes action to remove them from the country.
The agency said Mr Sandhu had cooperated throughout the operation. It is not the first time he has experienced an investigation by immigration. "I was raided several years ago but they didn't find anything," he said.
The business will be served with a potential fine of up to £10,000 per illegal worker unless it can prove it took sufficient steps to confirm employees' right to work.
Mr Sandhu said he had carried out those checks.