THE owner of a hand car wash has been hit by a £20,000 fine after the authorities discovered he had employed an illegal worker.

During unannounced visits to premises across Hartlepool on Thursday, the owner was found to be employing a worker who did not have a right to work in the UK.

Police investigating, along with the Hartlepool Community Safety Team, North-East and Cumbria Immigration Compliance and Enforcement Team and police, said the he had been "spoken to" less than a fortnight ago.

Sergeant Adrian Dack condemned the owner, describing his actions as an attempt to "ignore advice" over employing illegal workers.

He said: "We attended the car wash yesterday as a follow up to our visit just 10 days ago.

“Sadly, it’s clear that the owner chose to ignore the advice we gave him and he will now quite rightly be issued with this substantial fine.

“Workers in these environments can be open to exploitation from organised crime groups and we will continue to work with partners to protect them as best we can.”