Police watchdog to probe botched slaves raid on two Chinese restaurants

Photo: The management and staff at Ming Moon Restaurant 
  • ‘Slaves rescued to safe place’ returned home by police after no evidence of slavery or trafficking found.
  • Caught on CCTV: Police in riot gear fake battering ram break in for tipped off media
  • 44 formal complaints including 19 ‘slaves’ lodged with Independent Police Complaints Commission
  • Caught on CCTV: West Midlands Police pose for fun selfies whilst ‘rescuing slaves’ and hunting ‘gang masters running human trafficking’
  • Photographic evidence: shattered  doors, lockers and safe forced open, locks smashed – Extensive damage running into thousands of pounds denied by police
  • Serious errors and omissions on Police Search Record provided a month late
  • Incorrectly worded Search Warrant issued a full seven days before police
  • action to save ‘slaves’. If in danger why wait?
  • Caught on CCTV: Police use burglary excuse to forcibly return and swarm restaurant in order to unlawfully continue search and intimidate staff. Six police cars recorded at scene
  • Ruined restaurant businesses and traumatised owners and staff demand immediate apology

Police Fake Raid for the Media

At 08.00 on 22nd August 2017, police forcibly entered Ming Moon Wolverhampton and Wing Wah Coventry. Local television and newspapers were in attendance at Ming Moon Wolverhampton and there is clear CCTV footage showing the police reenacting the battering ram entry at 09.29 for the benefit of the media.

The police forcibly removed 19 members of staff,14 from Wing Wah Coventry and five from Ming Moon Wolverhampton. After hours of questioning all 19 were either returned by West Midlands Police to the respective restaurants or released to walk home later that day.

Owners of the two restaurants, Wing Wah Coventry and Ming Moon Wolverhampton  cite a catalogue of errors and complete incompetence in farcical raids by West Midlands Police to rescue ‘slaves’. Following the allegations and the media coverage, the reputation and livelihoods of the owners and staff of these two family run businesses have been severely damaged. Both restaurants are well established and respected in their communities. A press conference was held recently to demonstrate the allegations are completely unfounded and set the record straight.

44 formal complaints have now been lodged with the Independent Police Complaints Commission against West Midlands Police. These include directors, owners, staff and all 19 alleged ‘slaves’.

In legal statements, West Midlands Police is accused of abuse of human rights, heavy handed, intimidating and bullying tactics, when they battered down bedroom and bathroom doors to ‘rescue the slaves’ in the early morning .

The solicitor, representing the two Chinese restaurants, Mr Ian Henery commented,

“I personally took the statements from the staff and owners of Wing Wah Coventry and Ming Moon Wolverhampton and there is clear evidence that West Midlands Police has totally botched its investigation into alleged slavery. There is very clear CCTV evidence of serious unprofessional behaviour, as well as documentary evidence of non compliance with police protocol and procedure. West Midlands Police has no evidence of slavery, exploitation and human trafficking because there are no slaves, no one has been exploited and there is no human trafficking.

“We have CCTV footage taken within Ming Moon Wolverhampton’s reception and restaurant clearly shows police taking fun selfies with the giant Buddha and mirror. This is hardly professional behaviour, when they are meant to be rescuing alleged slaves and hunting alleged human traffickers. One minute the police were shouting at and intimidating the so called slaves, the next grinning into their cameras. This behaviour is outrageous and makes a mockery of the criminal justice system.

Mr Henery continued

“We have documentary evidence that warrants were obtained on 16th August 2017. West Midlands Police has stated they were safeguarding ‘slaves’ who were trafficked and exploited- so why did it take a further seven days to act on ‘rescuing’ the so called slaves?

”In addition, both restaurants were issued with Warrants to Enter and Search Premises under Human Trafficking Act section 2 and 3 Modern Day Slavery.

The citation within the warrant is incorrect, demonstrating the incompetence of the police to even get this right. The police claim on the Police Search Record that they left a record of the items they took away in a prominent place, this was not the case. We only obtained a copy, after numerous requests a month later. The ‘Information to the Occupier’ section has been left blank, another clear indication of non compliance with police procedure.

“This document also states that entry was not forced and there was no damage. We have clear photographic evidence, as well as numerous witness statements of shattered doors, lockers and a safe forced open and locks smashed. The damage runs into thousands of pounds. We have invoices from external trade people to substantiate this.

Trainee Manager, Tham Asam, one of the 14 staff members forcibly removed from Wing Wah Coventry, commented,

“ I was having a shower when I heard loud shouting and screaming. I was shocked and stunned, I thought we were being burgled so I tried to block the door.  A police officer forced the door open, sending me collapsed on the ground, he shouted at me to get out. I was naked and felt humiliated, scared and lost. I had no idea what was happening, He watched me get dressed and continued to shout at me to hurry up. I was forced into a police vehicle.”

“After being interrogated over a long period, I was told by a police officer that I was required to give a police and criminal evidence interview. I  asked why and refused, he said I would be cautioned if I did not comply. I do not know what I would be cautioned over and eventually we were all driven back to the restaurant by the police.

I am a British citizen, there are no slaves, no exploitation, I did not need rescuing, my living and working conditions are good and the owners treat me and all staff like family.”

Police: Blatant lies

Mr Asam went onto say

“The police stated that me and my colleagues were being safeguarded and has offered continued counselling and support. This is a blatant lie, we were offered nothing during our frightening interrogation or indeed afterwards.

I do not need safeguarding unless it’s against the police.

“Unfortunately this was not the end of the trauma. At around 09.30 that same night, police again broke their way into our accommodation. They were searching our rooms, I have no idea what for. They forced me and five colleagues into one of the rooms. Again they were very aggressive and were shouting at us. We were told a burglary had been reported. There were six police cars and the place was swarming with cops – there was no burglary. We were questioned and treated like criminals for an hour. Once again, I was lied to and felt vulnerable and scared. I have lost my self-confidence and I find it difficult to sleep at night. I have always respected the police, but now I am in fear of them.”

Both Ming Moon Wolverhampton and Wing Wah Coventry are fully cooperating with the police to resolve this as a matter of urgency. No further action has been taken by the police since the raid on 22nd August 2017.

Ian Henery, Solicitor concludes

“West Midlands Police must be held accountable for this shambolic raid. Someone needs to be held responsible and in this case it has to be Chief Inspector Sally Simpson who headed up this operation. CI Simpson made a statement saying that our staff are not paid for the hours and types of work they are doing. Wage slips prove this is totally untrue. She claimed that the on going investigation is looking into how and where staff are living. We have proven that the accommodation is good and staff stay on site out of their own convenience. She also said that our staff were taken to a safe place and will do everything to safeguard and protect them. Once again utterly ridiculous no-one asked or needed to be taken to a safe place, they were all returned to the restaurants by the police later that day. No support or protection has been offered or is needed.

‘We Shall Find a Way or Make One’.

The totally fabricated allegations of modern day slavery and human trafficking made by West Midlands Police, along with its incompetencies and non compliance with its own procedures are very much in keeping with the Public Protection Units motto: “Aut  Inveniam Viam Aut Faciam” translated from Latin, “We Shall Find a way or Make One”. In this instance West Midlands Police has neither found a way or, despite its best effort, made one!

Immediate Apology

“Peoples lives and businesses have been ruined. I have great respect for the police, but in view of our unprecedented evidence including CCTV, documented and witness statements that there are no slaves, no gang masters, and no human trafficking, my clients demand an immediate written and verbal apology.”

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