‘BOTCHED’ police raids on the Wing Wah in Coventry and another restaurant in a supposed attempt to ‘rescue modern slaves’ are the subject of multiple formal complaints to an independent watchdog.
Lawyers acting for the Wing Wah on the A45 and another West Midlands eatery targeted in highly publicised dawn raids on August 22 this year say 44 formal complaints have been sent to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Solicitors claim they include complaints from the would-be ‘slaves’ who voluntary returned to their places of work and homes, dismissing the police’s allegations.
They add no evidence of slavery or trafficking was found. Police inquiries continue.
To make matters worse, says Ian Henery Solicitors Ltd, “police in riot gear faked a battering-ram break-in for tipped-off media.”
And caught on CCTV were West Midlands Police posing for “fun selfies” while supposedly “rescuing slaves” and hunting “gang masters running human trafficking”.
Extensive damage running into thousands of pounds was denied by police, Wing Wah’s lawyers add.
Police used a ‘burglary excuse’ to forcibly return and swarm one of the restaurants in order to ‘unlawfully continue search and intimidate staff’.
Six police cars were recorded at the scene.
The result was “ruined restaurant businesses and traumatised owners and staff”, say lawyers.
Both businesses are now demanding an immediate apology, while they continue to co-operate with the police.
The other address which the police forcibly entered was Ming Moon Wolverhampton.
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 police to the respective restaurants or released to walk home later that day.
The lawyers’ statement adds: “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 (as covered in the Coventry Observer).”
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.
Mr Henery said: “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.”
The lawyers statement continues:”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.
Mr Henery concludes: ““ West Midlands Police must be held accountable for this shambolic raid. Someone needs to be held responsible.”
Police have said only that their “investigations are continuing”.
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.”