A chef at Frankie and Benny's in Kingston's Rotunda has been arrested this lunchtime on suspicion of working illegally.

The arrest by security staff in body armour with night sticks was one of a series of operations around Kingston today, a UK Border Agency spokesman confirmed.

Fiona Kay, 21, a recent graduate from Kingston University, was having lunch with a friend when a dozen UK Border Agency staff ran in.

They rounded up all the kitchen staff and waiters in the corner of the restaurant, near the toilets, and started asking for papers, she said.

She said: "Everything went quiet. Mobiles were being taken. One of the chefs got let go. Another chef got arrested and taken away.

"No one knew what was happening and the staff kept away from us afterwards. No one explained.

"During it all a woman who I think was the manager tried to get behind the cooking bit, put a chef's hat on and tried to keep cooking.

"We were thinking 'Is our food going to come?'"

Her sandwich and her friend's hot dog did arrive and other diners, which included a graduate in gowns and hat with their family, and other couples, carried on eating.

On the way out Ms Kay saw a sign advertising for a new chef at the restaurant.

She said: "It was really weird. We are not sure if they had it up straight away. We didn't notice it on the way in."

Frankie and Bennies declined to comment.

Another witness said: "They were so silent and it was so quick.

"They were all in black with bullet proof vests and handcuffs and some retractable sticks, but no guns.

"I saw 10 to 12 of then maximum, and one person being arrested."

A spokesman for Frankie and Benny's said: "We can confirm that one person has been arrested.

"That person had to the best of our knowledge had authentic documentary evidence that he was allowed to work in the UK.

"We have an extremely close relationship and cooperate with the UK Borders Agency at all times. "Over and above that, Frankie and Benny's has extremely robust employment procedures."

Employers have a duty to check that all new employees are entitled to work in the United Kingdom.

The Sarada in Surbiton was fined £5,000 in September for use of illegal workers.

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