An off-licence is set to close after it hired an illegal immigrant who entered the UK in the back of a lorry.

West Midlands Police also raised concerns about boxes of 'drug dealer bags', plastic cups and the sale of single balloons at Lifestyle Express on Genners Lane in Bartley Green .

Earlier this week (Monday, February 4) a Birmingham City Council licensing committee revoked the premises licence, which permitted the sale of alcohol.

Business owner Imran Sadiq told the hearing that the decision would effectively mean he would have to close the shop.

Lifestyle Express in Bartley Green. Google Street View.
Lifestyle Express in Bartley Green. Google Street View.
 

Officers from the council's licensing department attended in October along with Home Office Immigration Enforcement.

They discovered an Indian man behind the counter who said he had been working for six hours since 7am without a break and was being paid £6 an hour - below the the minimum wage of £7.83.

The man, who later produced a fake French passport, has since been arrested and is on immigration bail. 

Confusion surrounded who was actually running the shop with a Mr Royston Seempaliai telling officers he was in the process of acquiring the business from Mr Sadiq.

The store was also in breach of a number of licensing conditions such as requirements to display the correct signage.

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West Midlands Police made a follow-up visit last month and raised further issues.

They stated there would be 'no other reason' to hold the bags other than the sale of drugs.

While the force also suspected the balloons - sold at five for £1 - and plastic cups may have been sold to students taking laughing gas (nitrous oxide) and mixing alcoholic drinks.

PC Ben Reader said: "West Midlands Police have no confidence in this premises to promote the licensing objectives, we ask that the licence be revoked."

 

Mr Seempaliai told the committee he thought the illegal immigrant was entitled to work in the UK after he was shown the French passport and a National Insurance number.

He also denied knowledge of the bags, stated the cups were sold for tea and coffee whilst arguing that the balloons were generally sold for parties.

Mr Sadiq said he had been running the shop for a number of years but got into 'huge debt' with it and was intending to transfer the licence to Mr Seempaliai.

He added: "I have never had any issues with the shop.

 

"The way the police officer is trying to make out like we are bad people, they have got a vendetta against us.

"We have done nothing wrong in that shop.

"The licence is the business, if we lose that I lose everything the shop has to be closed down straight away."

Committee chairman Cllr Barbara Dring confirmed the revocation pointing to a number of 'discrepancies' in the business owners' defence.