Curry duo cleared

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Shere Khan Curry King and Queen cleared in Immigration probe

BRITAIN’S leading curry family have been cleared of running an immigration racket

Businessman Rafique Awan, who set up the Shere Khan Group with wife Nighat, was arrested three years ago over claims that his restaurant chain was running an illegal work scam.

The couple, said to be worth over £30m, were forced to close a number of restaurants and nearly went out business when the probe began in 2007.

But investigators at Merseyside Police dramatically dropped all charges against the family citing a lack of evidence.

Welcoming the news, a relieved yet angry Mr Awan said the probe had left his family “living a nightmare”. He said his wife’s health had suffered while many of his former staff had been “reduced to poverty and the charity of their family and friends.”

Mr Awan, 67, was arrested in February 2007 after police raided his family’s restaurants and searched their £4m mansion in Hale Barns.

Over 60 waiters and cooks were held for alleged visa infringements following raids by police and immigration officials.

Police said 48 of those arrested three years ago had now been deported or ordered to leave.

It was an investigation, a spokesperson for the couple described as “unjust” and “malicious”.

“Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pounds of tax payers money has been squandered in this unjust and malicious attack on innocent members of the Asian community,” the spokesperson said.

“For three years my family and I have been living a nightmare,” Mr Awan added.

“My wife’s health has suffered terribly and it has been a great struggle for all of us to come through this. We have lost a great deal of money and respect because of the police but worse than that many of my former staff have been reduced to poverty and the charity of their family and friends. Others have been wrongly driven out of the UK when they were forced to realise that there was no justice for them in this country.”

His wife Nighat, who was awarded an OBE in 2004 for charity work, said the family now wanted to “move forward.”

“It has been a distressing and upsetting time for all concerned. Despite the business almost collapsing due to premature restaurant closures and our reputation being damaged, we just want to move forward and get on with our lives.”

The couple founded their first restaurant in Manchester’s Curry Mile in 1987.

Twenty-three years later and they have become one of Britain’s most successful Asian couples.

The Shere Khan group boast nine outlets around England including the flagship Manchester restaurant in the Rusholme area of the city.

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