Three men have been arrested and detained following a raid by immigration officials at Gafoor Pure Halal’s Preston processing plant.

The Home Office has warned that, in light of this being the third such raid in six years, criminal – rather than civil – charges could be brought against company owners.

About 60 officers attended the site on Friday, 11 October, following a tip-off, and conducted an inspection of the site workforce.

Two men, aged 22 and 25, were arrested for overstaying their visa and one man, aged 25, was arrested for breaching visa conditions. A Home Office spokesman said two of the three men were found hiding in freezers during the raid.

Jon Cass, the Home Office officer who led the operation, told the Lancaster Evening Post: “When they’ve been visited in the past and found to be using these illegal workers, they were given civil penalties.

“What we need to look at is if the same people have been responsible for the employment of illegal workers. If that’s the case we could take the view that they haven’t paid any attention to the civil penalties and could arrest them and charge them.”

A spokesperson for Gafoor said the firm strongly denied any wrongdoing, and that it had “rigorous procedures in place” when it came to employing workers.

“We are committed to continuing to work with the Border Agency,” he added.

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Gafoor raided by UK Border Agency in 2009

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