Byron Hamburgers boycotted following immigration scandal that's spawned a trending Twitter hashtag

 
Francesca Washtell
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A Byron burger in its natural environment (Source: Byron)

Byron Hamburgers has been subjected to the wrath of Twitter since claims emerged the posh grub chain organised a training day for foreign staff who were then deported by UK border agents.

The burger group inadvertently trended on Twitter yesterday with the hashtag #boycottbyron, following widespread reports that 35 staff from at least 15 restaurants were called to an event in London on 4 July that was arranged by Byron in conjunction with government authorities.

The staff, reportedly from Brazil, Egypt, Albania and Nepal, were arrested and later deported.

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At least one protest against the incident has now been planned, with more than 1,000 people confirming they will attend a protest at the High Holborn branch of Byron Burger on 1 August at 6.30pm.

Read more: Byron's immigration backlash - is it fair?

It has been arranged by United Voices of the World Union, London Latinxs, Black Dissidents, London IWWW, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, War on Want, Global Justice Now and South London Solfed.

However, Byron has not confirmed that it arranged a training day for its foreign staff, saying instead that "several of [its] restaurants" were visited by home office staff.

In a statement yesterday, Byron said:

These visits resulted in the removal of members of staff who are suspected by the Home Office of not having the right to work in the UK, and of possessing fraudulent personal and right to work documentation that is in breach of immigration and employment regulation.

The Home Office recognises that Byron as an employer is fully compliant with immigration and asylum law in its employment practices, and that Byron had carried out the correct ‘right to work’ checks on staff members, but had been shown false/counterfeit documentation.

At Byron we are proud of the diversity of our restaurant teams, built around people of all backgrounds and all walks of life.

We have cooperated fully and acted upon the Home Office’s requests throughout the course of the investigations leading to this action, and will continue to do so.

Read more: Byron serves up beefy profits in 2015

The company has also said it was "unaware that any of our workers were in possession of counterfeit documentation until the Home Office brought it to our attention, despite carrying out rigorous "right to work" checks".

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Immigration enforcement officers carried out intelligence-led visits to a number of Byron restaurants across London on 4 July, arresting 35 people for immigration offences. The operation was carried out with the full co-operation of the business.”

Byron was founded in 2007 and owns more than 50 restaurants across the UK. It declined to comment on the trending hashtag #boycottbyron.

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