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Weekly faces boycott calls after brothel article

A weekly newspaper has faced calls for readers to boycott it after claims it exposed a ‘sinister brothel’ while at the same time allegedly carrying adverts for the same establishment.

The Croydon Advertiser’s front page last week detailed an undercover investigation about a brothel discovered next to a charity office, where sex and a massage was on offer for £50.

An undercover reporter equipped with a hidden camera went to the brothel to investigate after a tip-off from a concerned local businessman.

But it has now been claimed the paper itself has carried adverts for the ‘massage parlour’, including one in the same edition as the expose – leading to calls from the Croydon Community Against Trafficking for readers to boycott it.

The organisation released a statement saying: “CCAT is baffled by the utter hypocrisy of the Croydon Advertiser; to have, on the one hand, a front page article about sinister brothels in our midst, and then, on the other, to take money from the same brothel and help it to thrive, demonstrates an alarming degree of double standards from our local family newspaper.”

It says it has evidence the Northcliffe-owned Advertiser and sister paper the Croydon Post have carried adverts for the brothel and others like it for years and has brought this to the attention of newspaper staff.

The statement adds: “Newspaper publishers have a social and moral responsibility to ensure that they are not advertising illegal services in their pages.

“We are calling on our supporters to boycott both the Croydon Advertiser and Croydon Post until they stop making a profit from the exploitation of women, and we can only hope that now the Advertiser has proved for itself that such establishments exist, they will finally decide to take a stand on this issue.”

The newspaper has also faced criticism from a number of bloggers, while earlier this month, HTFP blogger Steve Dyson called for a ban on sex ads in newspapers.

Two years ago, Newsquest banned all such adverts from appearing in papers across the country, which was highlighted in rival publication the Croydon Guardian and welcomed by CCAT.

Alan Geere, editorial director for Northcliffe Media South East, said: “We are aware of the sensitivities surrounding adult and personal services advertising.

“Conscious of these concerns, we take every reasonable step to ensure that the advertising we carry complies with both the letter and the spirit of the law.”

He said those placing adverts of this nature were not allowed to pay cash and had to show proof of identity, a copy of which is retained.

The group also has strict guidelines on the wording that can be used and says it co-operates with the police in the event of any concerns.

Alan added: “What we choose not to do is to deny legitimate members of the community who choose to provide these services within the law, the right to advertise.

“This we feel is a dangerous precedent to establish and opens us up to pressure from any quarter to apply individual judgments of decency and morality.”


B J Hill (18/08/2010 16:53:15)
Alan Geere says “…we take every reasonable step to ensure the advertising we carry complies with both the letter and spirit of the law”
I suggest Geere needs to get real.
a) It was a reporter from a group newspaper that labelled this establishment “sinister”. If the paper had concerns about this’brothel’, why didn’t they at least suspend accepting adverts until they had completed their investigations.
b)Under the London Local Authorities Act 1991 – Special Treatment any establishment offering ‘massage’services requires a licence issued by the local authority. Clearly the Advertiser did not ask to see this, as it appears one had not been applied for or issued.
c) The Advertiser’s article states “Under the Sexual Offences Act 1956, running a brothel is illegal”. It is understood that over a year ago the Advertiser was supplied with information revealing that this premise together with others advertising ‘massage services’ in this paper were in fact a front for brothels.
On all counts hardly complying with the letter and spirit of the law.