Protesters free cockroaches at UK burger chain, enraged that it helped get its illegal workers arrested

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2016, 9:56am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2016, 9:07pm

Demonstrators gathered in London on Monday to protest the arrest of staff at British burger chain Byron in an immigration sting that prompted activists to release cockroaches into one of the restaurants.

Around 200 people clutching placards and banners rallied outside Byron’s Holborn branch in central London, which was closed during the protest.

The demonstration follows government confirmation last week that 35 Byron staff from Albania, Brazil, Egypt and Nepal had been arrested on July 4 for immigration-related offences.

“How do you like your burger? Without deportations,” chanted protesters, who assembled behind barricades while several police officers stood outside the restaurant.

Whistles and horns were blown by the crowd, which included several representatives from trade unions.

One home-made placard included an image of Paddington Bear, a fictional children’s character from Peru often brought up by migration campaigners, holding a placard of his own reading “migration is not a crime”.

Monday’s protest came three days after activists released cockroaches, locusts and crickets into Byron’s Holborn and Shaftesbury Avenue restaurants in central London. The stunt prompted both outlets to close.

Criticism of Byron has mounted over its collaboration with the government, which said it carried out “intelligence-led visits” to restaurants ahead of the arrests.

The burger chain said it was unaware workers had used sophisticated counterfeit documents to gain employment until the company was alerted by the interior ministry and cooperated in the raids.

Despite the calls to boycott Byron, which has 56 outlets across the UK, some people have taken to social media to support the burger chain for helping to uphold immigration law.