Sainsbury's is standing by a car wash company which has been raided again and again by immigration officials while washing its customers' cars on its land.

In May, four African workers were arrested by Home Office immigration enforcement officers at the Hands On Car Wash in the car park of Sainsbury's, in Kiln Lane, Epsom.

Three Nigerian workers, aged 38, 44 and 53, have been released on immigration bail while their cases are progressed and one Ugandan worker, 45, has now been released after his claim for asylum was accepted.

At the time of the raid, Sainsbury's said that as its supplier, it was Hands On Car Wash's responsibility to make all of the relevant checks on employees and said it was satisfied that it was doing so.

But the raid on the outfit in Kiln Lane was not the first such swoop on the company in a Sainsbury's car park. 

Between August 2009 and May 2014, Hands On Car Wash has been raided at least six times, on the supermarket's land, in Epsom, Wrexham, Burpham, Stratton St Margaret, Folkestone and Ashford. 

As a result of these raids, the Home Office has said that two of the company's workers were removed from the UK, nine are reporting to the Home Office while their cases are being progressed, three were given fixed penalty notices for failing to obtain permission to work prior to taking their jobs at Hands On Car Wash, and two have been granted discretionary leave to remain in the UK - although one of these workers has now overstayed his leave and steps are being taken to remove him from the UK.

From May this year, employers which repeatedly employ illegal workers can be fined up to £20,000 per person. 

But they do not have to pay a fine if they can show a valid reason for employing an illegal worker.

Knowingly employing an illegal worker can result in a criminal prosecution, an unlimited fine, and up to two years' imprisonment.

After the raid at Kiln Lane Epsom's MP Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary, said: "I would expect Sainsbury's to be firm with their supplier in saying that if they keep breaking the law, they will not continue with the current arrangements."

Richard Plowman, chairman of Hands On Car Wash, failed to return any of this newspaper's calls about why his company has been raided again and again by immigration officials.

It was only after the Epsom Guardian contacted Sainsbury's to ask why it is continuing to allow Hands On Car Wash to clean its customers' cars that Mr Plowman issued this statement: "We place great emphasis on ensuring the correct procedures are in place.

"This includes working closely with the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and assisting them with spot checks to ensure individuals are providing us with the correct documentation. 

"Hands On has never had to pay a fine to the UKBA.

"We employ compliance officers in order to conduct checks including spot checks on individuals and in conjunction with immigration officers.

"If there are any perceived irregularities, then UKBA would contact us accordingly, in the same way they would for any other business in the UK.

"To date, we have not received any communication from UKBA since their visit in May."

A Sainsbury's spokeswoman said: "As you would expect it's a standard contractual requirement that our suppliers must comply with the law.

"We continue to support the Hands On Car Wash company in ensuring they follow the correct processes and the people they employ show them accurate paperwork. This includes Hands On continuing to work with the UKBA.

"Hands On is a tenant operating under a concession agreement with Sainsbury's. 

"It is one of a number of car wash service providers contracted by Sainsbury's."

When asked whether it is planning to take any action against Hands On Car Wash for employing immigrants who are not allowed to work in this country, a Home Office spokesman said: "As there is an outstanding case still under investigation in relation to this business we cannot comment further."


Sainsbury's stays silent over illegal immigrants washing customers' cars in Kiln Lane, Epsom