The Croydon Guardian‘s report about ads for local brothels leading to local newspaper editors being arrested has taken another twist: it seems it is just not true.
After being highlighted yesterday by Inside Croydon – because some numbskull posted the report on the Croydon Guardian‘s website complete with a picture of the offending ads clearly showing the brothels’ phone numbers – the local coverage was followed up by both Roy Greenslade and the industry website, Press Gazette.
When PG reporter Oliver Luft called the Met Police to check out the claims in the Croydon Guardian, he was given a decidedly less dramatic version of events, with the police playing down the chances of editors whose newspapers advertise massage parlours brothels being arrested.
“Press Gazette understands that arresting editors, while a possibility, would be very much a last resort and the Met wanted to work with newspapers and industry body, the Newspaper Society, to stamp out the advertisements,” Luft writes.
You don’t say?
Two months ago, with huge help from the local anti-trafficking charity Croydon Community Against Trafficking (CCAT), Inside Croydon highlighted the obvious hypocrisy of the Croydon Sadvertiser, which on its front page was “exposing” a “sinister brothel” (their words, not ours), while still advertising the very same knocking shop in the classified section.
It seems that our joking suggestion that someone should “shop” the newspaper to the police was taken seriously by the rival Croydon Guardian‘s intrepid reporter.
The call generated this hard-hitting intro yesterday: “Vice cops could arrest newspaper editors who continue to publish brothel advertisements in an unprecedented campaign against the sordid sex trafficking trade.”
Buried in the same Croydon Guardian story is a quote from DI Kevin Hyland which includes the weasel word “possibility”.
Time for a reality check.
When CCAT presented its documents and reports on brothel ads to the Croydon Advertiser in 2009, they identified 60 massage parlours brothels in the area, and around 2,500 ads appearing in various local papers in a year.
Obviously, CCAT also sent the results of their research to the local police.
Yet Croydon’s boys in blue did not close down the establishment in question. It was suggested that shutting down brothels was not high on Croydon police’s priorities.
If the police is failing to act on the principle felony by raiding the brothel, they are hardly likely to have the resources to pursue local newspaper editors for carrying the ads, are they?
And that’s before you consider the CPS issue of providing the necessary evidence to prosecute the case by proving that the offending newspaper editor knew that the “massage parlour” in the ad was actually operating illegally as a brothel.
Brothels started calling themselves “massage parlours” to get round the law. Will the overstretched, under-resourced CPS be scouring the country looking for cases where they can prove that local newspapers are knowingly advertising brothels?
We’ll maintain our scepticism until the first editor is in the dock.