Sainsbury’s has refused to say whether it will continue to allow one of its car parks to be used by a car wash firm which has been employing illegal immigrants.
In a major raid by immigration officers last Tuesday afternoon, three Nigerian men and one Ugandan man were arrested while working for the Hands On car wash, based in the car park of Sainsbury’s, in Kiln Lane, Epsom.
They were arrested on suspicion of over-staying their visas and illegal entry into the UK.
A spokesman for the Home Office said that three of the men remain in detention pending removal from the UK - with the exception of one of the Nigerian men, who has been placed on immigration bail while his case is investigated further.
Asked whether it would continue to allow the firm to operate from the car park and wash its customers cars, Sainsbury’s said the company is not one of its employees, but is a supplier.
But it refused to explain what its relationship with Hands On car wash actually is, what checks, if any, are carried out by Sainsbury’s to ensure that its suppliers do not employ illegal immigrants or whether it will continue to use the services of the Hands On Car Wash.
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said: "We cannot divulge any details of the relationship between Sainsbury’s and its suppliers."
When asked why, he said: "We don’t disclose those details."
When asked about what checks are in place to ensure that illegal immigrants are not employed by the car wash, he said: "Responsibility on these things ultimately lies with the supplier."
Epsom and Ewell councillor Clive Woodbridge said he was surprised at Sainsbury’s refusal to take any responsibility for the situation.
He said: "I don’t think a business like Sainsbury’s should pass the buck. They need to take some responsibility for whatever takes place on their land and take this seriously.
"This whole incident has the potential to at least damage their reputation. These people were working in their car park and most people will have thought that Sainsbury’s will have some connection with this operation, it is not an arms-length operation.
"You would think Sainsbury’s would show a great interest in it.
"It’s surprised me that they would not at least make some checks to ensure that the company employing these people were doing the right due diligence.
"Sainsbury’s may not be responsible for checking their passports but you would like to think they would take some responsibility for it.
"While they may not be legally responsible, most people would say they have some moral responsibility as they are the company ultimately responsible.
"Smaller businesses often have to pay thousands of pounds in fines in similar cases."
After this article went online Sainsbury's issued a short statement saying: “It is wrong to suggest that we are not showing an interest. As you would expect we have spoken to ‘Hands on Car wash’ who are carrying out checks.”
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