THREE restaurants in York have held on to their alcohol licences, but managers will be forced to step down over fears about illegal work - ers at the sites.

City of York Council held a licens - ing hearing yesterday into three curry houses owned by Khalique Zaman, which could have seen his businesses stop selling alcohol or be forced to close early.

Instead, a panel of three councillors ruled that the designated premises supervisors at The Indian Ocean restaurant in Acomb, Jaipur Spice in Haxby Road, and The King’s Ransom in King Street, should no longer hold that role.

North Yorkshire Police had applied for licence reviews for all three restaurants after they were raided by immigration officials and police earlier this year. A total of 12 people were detained after the raids and civil penalties issued to Mr Zaman, but the panel heard appeals have either been lodged or are being prepared in relation to each of the three restaurants.

Illegal workers had been found at Mr Zaman’s restaurants in both 2012 and 2013, and yesterday police solicitor Kayley Scaife argued that even with no criminal proceedings against Mr Zaman, the licences should be revoked to help prevent crime.

She said Mr Zaman - owner of all three restaurants and designated premises supervisor of two - had not exercised due diligence in making sure his employees had the right to work in the UK, but instead “either turned a blind eye or inten - tionally employed individuals who did not have the right to work in the UK.”

Superintendent Phil Cain, of York police, also gave evidence at the hearing to support the application.

He said employing people without the right to work in the UK affected the local community, and raised police concerns about the exploita - tion of workers.

But Mr Zaman’s lawyer, Sohail Mohammed, argued that with no criminal proceedings against Mr Zaman, the application was invalid and should not have been brought before the licensing panel.

Delivering their decision, chair - man of the panel Cllr Boyce said: “There is not sufficient evidence to show that Mr Zaman knowingly employed people without the right to work in the UK.”

But, she added, the panel was concerned that designated premises supervisors were not being thorough enough when checking new employees’ right to work in the UK.