THE owner of a 'dirty' Oxford takeaway which closed down over rat droppings in its kitchens has been fined for ignoring orders to improve standards.

Amer Hajjaj of Oxford Pizza And Kebab Shop, 68 St Clement's Street, did not appear at Oxford Magistrates' Court yesterday, and no lawyer represented him.

Mick McCabe, prosecuting on behalf of Oxford City Council, said the authority had taken Hajjaj to court as a 'last resort' after he had 'repeatedly' ignored notices to fix food safety violations.

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These were over the poor condition of the kitchen floor, a lack of staff training, and having no food safety system.

He read out a document provided by the council's environmental health team which listed their 'long history' with Hajjaj and Oxford Pizza and Kebab Shop.

It detailed how a health inspector had visited in May 2017 after allegations of rat activity and found the takeaway 'dirty, disorganised and numerous rat droppings'.

Jamal Sayed, who worked in the kitchen, had denied there was a problem with rats, according to the report, but admitted he had 'heard them in the walls'.

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Mr McCabe said the business voluntarily closed and the health team visited two days later to find pest proofing had been done.

He added: "It was advised that rats had been in the ceiling space and had gnawed through the wires to the CCTV camera."

A subsequent visit in October 2017 found more rat droppings in the kitchens as well as the skeleton of a rodent just outside the shop. The takeaway was most recently given a one-star rating by Oxford City Council following another surprise inspection on May 17 last year, meaning 'improvement necessary'.

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Mr McCabe told magistrates the business appeared to now be closed but there was 'nothing to stop' Hajjaj setting up somewhere else.

Magistrates found Hajjaj guilty of failing to comply with three food hygiene notices. He was fined £7,187, which included the council's legal costs of £4,087, to be paid within 14 days.

Ian Wright, the council's head of regulatory service and community safety, said: “Our role is to protect the health of consumers and we use a graduated approach to enforcement to secure compliance. We will always look to prosecute a business if it fails to comply with a legal notice.”