Burger chain Byron has issued a statement in the wake of a protest outside its Holborn store to an immigration sting.
Around 200 demonstrators surrounded the central London branch on Monday night following an investigation that resulted in the deportation of at least 25 people.
Last week, the Home Office said 35 people from Albania, Brazil, Nepal and Egypt were arrested for immigration offences at a number of restaurants across London, following an operation carried out with the “full cooperation” of Byron in July.
Reports said the burger chain carried out the correct “right to work” checks on staff members but had subsequently been shown false or counterfeit documentation by officials.
The Holborn branch shut its doors on Monday afternoon before the protest began, with a sign on the entrance stating: “Sorry, we are temporarily closed because of a technical issue. Apologies for the inconvenience.”
Byron released a statement in response to the Home Office investigation in which it said it wished to reiterate that it was “unaware” that any of its workers were in possession of counterfeit documentation until the Home Office brought it to its attention. It added that the Home Office recognises that as an employer it has always been fully compliant with immigration and asylum law in its employment practices.
“We carry out rigorous ‘right to work’ checks, but sophisticated counterfeit documentation was used in order to pass these checks,” Byron said. “We have cooperated fully and acted upon the Home Office’s requests and processes throughout the course of their investigations: it is our legal obligation to do so.”
The chain said that it had also “worked hard” to ensure minimal impact on customers while the operation was underway.