ACF chairman condemns reckless restaurant owner convicted of manslaughter

Yawar Khan, chairman, Asian Catering Federation

The Chairman of the Asian Catering Federation (ACF), Yawar Khan, is among the first community leaders to condemn the “reckless” Indian restaurant owner jailed for four years following the conviction for manslaughter of a customer.

“This callous individual has done enormous damage to the hardworking restaurateurs and their staff, who exercise meticulous customer care and strive to build their businesses,” said Khan (pictured), who welcomed the court’s decision. “This was a needless tragedy and our thoughts go out to the victim’s family.”

Paul Wilson, 38, suffered severe anaphylactic shock and died in January 2014 after eating a takeaway containing peanuts.

Owner of the Indian Garden in Easingwold, Yorkshire, Mohammed Zaman, 52, was found guilty at Teesside Crown Court.

The court heard he cut corners by using cheaper ingredients containing peanuts. Zaman, denied he was responsible but a jury was told he switched almond powder for a cheaper ground nut mix, which contained peanuts.

Mr Wilson, a bar manager from Helperby, North Yorkshire, specified “no nuts” when he ordered a chicken tikka masala – an instruction which was written on his order and on the lid of his takeaway.

He died three weeks after a different customer with a peanut allergy bought a meal from one of Mr Zaman’s six restaurants and had a reaction requiring hospital treatment.

The restaurateur had a “reckless and cavalier attitude to risk” and “put profit before safety” at all his outlets, the jury was told.

Zaman cut costs by using the cheaper nut powder and by employing untrained, illegal workers.

Sentencing him, Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, said Zaman had remained “in complete and utter denial” and ignored warnings from officials after 17-year-old Ruby Scott suffered a reaction to a curry, three weeks before Mr Wilson’s death.

He said he had thrown away his successful business and property portfolio worth £2m “in pursuit of profit”.

Mr Wilson’s mother, Margaret Wilson, from Sheffield, said her son was “meticulous” about dealing with peanuts after a reaction to a chocolate bar at the age of seven.

She said the smell of peanuts, or accidentally drinking from the same glass as someone who was eating them, could trigger a reaction.

Paul Wilson asked for a nut-free takeaway and tried to make himself sick when he realised he hadn’t got what he ordered.

Detective Inspector Shaun Page said Mr Wilson’s death was “totally avoidable” and Zaman’s “lack of remorse” had been striking.

Zaman claimed he left managers to run his restaurants and that included ordering stock and hiring staff.  The father-of-four was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence and six food safety offences. He was cleared of a charge of perverting the course of justice.

“We have been educating members about the utmost importance of good hygiene control and the dangers of allergens,” said Khan whose ACF is conduction a round Britain series road shows, which has already been attended by the owners of around 1,000 owners of restaurants and takeaways, adding, “It is horrific that someone has died because a restaurant fails to follow standard procedures.”

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