back to article Solicitor General takes fresh pop at PunterNet

The website PunterNet, which provides a forum for sex workers and clients in the UK, was singled out for a slapping last autumn by Harriet Harman. Naturally the site saw its figures rocket as it was brought to wider attention. The government is now gunning for it again, but who'll benefit this time? It's not hard to see why …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    how I would *love* to have been there ....

    "Harman has already been on the Governator's case about it, to no avail."

    2 words

    2nd word

    sounds like


  2. Anonymous Coward

    pmsl ...

    your article tags for this :

    "Read more: Prostitution Harriet Harman Solicitor General"

  3. Anonymous Coward

    this is why I love the interweb

    it makes it so much harder for interfering busybodies to stick their morals down my throat

  4. Iggle Piggle

    Great wall of Europe

    In principle I am in favour of a great firewall of Europe. The good that such a device good deliver (such as blocking external phishing and illegal content sites, such as those harbouring hate speech and child pornography) is quite beyond question. The problem is that when politicians (such as the Chinese authorities) use such a device to enforce control over the public you cannot help but decide that perhaps the sceptics were right all along.

    This is another example of why the government should have no say over our internet content, they simply cannot be trusted to tell the truth. If this site is associated with the shady side of life but carefully avoids overstepping the mark then why does the government feel the need to lie.

  5. Andy 97
    Paris Hilton

    Stupid people ---- missed the point.

    Regulate it through legislation and we'd see a drop in sex slavery overnight.

    Do I have to think of everything?

    The same goes for some controlled substances like cannabis, MDMA and other leisure-based substances.

    Paris, because she knows that money really can buy you love.

    1. John G Imrie


      Hell you cant do that, you would be able to tax it properly and offer punters and prostitutes medical screening and ...

      Oh hang on a sec :-)

    2. Graham Marsden

      Don't reguate: Decriminalise

      The problem with legislating prostitution is that, especially with a Government like this one, they'd come up with a virtually unworkable system that would end up over-loading the industry (for that is what it is) with pointless and useless regulations.

      There are already examples of stupidity like this, eg if two women work at one address for their own safety, that is classed as "running a brothel" which is illegal. If they employ a security guard, he will be classed as a pimp and "living off immoral earnings". They can employ a "maid" to answer the door, but she can *only* be paid by the client giving her a tip (don't snigger) because, again, if she gets any money from the girl, she will be breaking the law.

      All of those laws and many others should be struck off the statute books before there's even the slightest thought of introducing new ones, but that would be sensible...

    3. Anonymous Coward

      There's always a downside

      The legitimisation of the sex trade will surely lead to a merger with the most degrading job you can hold and create the McSexTrade - sex slavery in its own right.

      Mine's the one with 3 service stars on the badge.

  6. Stephane Mabille

    Prostitution / Procuring

    If you want to tackle sex trafficking and exploitation you should target procuring/pimping not prostitution....

    Pushing prostitution underground and behind close doors will only allow criminal activities to develop even more.

    Thinking that you can eradicate the sex trade is a total illusion, it's not called the world oldest profession for nothing.

    Having a clean, visible, safer regulated industry (for workers/client) is the only way to tackle the problem, along with increased sentencing for pimps/traffickers (as long as it's far safer and profitable to traffic women than drugs the choice is obvious...)

    Does Harriet really think that closing every clothes factory would solve the sweat shops problem????

    But is there any point trying to explain that to a DailyMail obsessed government that still believe that drug prohibition is working particularly well.....

  7. Anonymous Coward

    And the others?

    Why just PN? Can those in whitehall not see adultwork, punterlink, LBB or any other punting sites?

    These wimmin really have no idea. Perhaps they should have banned the Billie meets Brooke Magnetti (sp) interview in case it has encouraged more girls and/or punters to enter the sex industry.

    Open-ness is what's needed here, not some hate driven vitriolic attacks on the innocent. The commercialisation of sex will never go away, so make it open and transparent. Don't drive it into the shadows.

    If you want to stop trafficking, target the traffickers, gang masters, Home Office cleaners etc. not the independent law-abiding sex trade.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    "The Government is committed to reducing the demand for prostitution..."

    Good luck with that... Will they be looking to the voluntary sector to help out?

    Paris: She's been doing her bit to reduce the demand for prostitution for years now...

  9. Michael Fremlins

    Well how about a non-IT solutiion?

    I will state up front that I am a very liberal person. What two people (or more) get up to with their own bodies and their own money is their business, if there is mutual consent. And if somebody charges for a "service" and somebody is willing to pay, so what? That is no different from buying another professional "service", like legal advice.

    Now to some practicalities. Prostitutes rent houses and flats, and the owners of those flats turn a blind eye to what goes on within them. Perhaps they are libertarians like me. But the difference is, they are receiving money while turning a blind eye. The landlords are living off immoral earnings, to use that nasty phrase. (Why is banking, or arms manufacturing, not considered immoral?)

    So perhaps Harperson, if she really wants to do something about prostitution, should prosecute the landlords for living off immoral earnings. If there is no existing law which does this, I am sure this legislation-hooked government can pass one. The properties could be seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

    But I think this would be a step too far for Harperson. Big chunks of the central London are still owned by very wealthy aristocrats. Like the Earl of Onslow and the Duke of Westminster, and they let out their properties, almost never sell freeholds, turning their blind eyes towards the tenants. I don't suppose that the Earl or the Duke let their properties personally, of course not. But the money ends up in their pockets. There is no way that Harperson would dare to upset bigwigs like them, even if she wanted to. Instead she tries to cause a ruffle about a lurid web site, because that is a very easy target.

    If Harperson has any moral integrity, let's see her go after the really big boys. Otherwise, live and let live.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      ...and the owners of those flats turn a blind eye to what goes on within them

      ... or don't know.

      You contradict yourself ..."What two people (or more) get up to with their own bodies and their own money is their business,"

      So how how can you find out what goes on without snooping ?

      I guess you could change the law, so that lack of knowledge is no defence (an absolute offence) ... but where would you draw the line ? After all, HSBC own 75% of my house .....

    2. John G Imrie

      Living off immoral earnings

      Being guilty of the offence my self, I accepted tea and biscuits from a friend on the game, there is a very big problem with trying to prosecute under this law.

      All the fellow sex workers my friend new scrupulously paid their taxes . So the Government and anyone who has ever received any benefit from the Government is equally guilty.

      Now how do I get Gordon Brown prosecuted?

    3. Stephane Mabille
      Thumb Down

      French law

      Hi Michael,

      This law exist in France ("proxenetisme hotelier") where people renting hotel rooms and/or apartments to prostitute are committing crime and can end up in court. The same is true for anybody "benefiting" from prostitute earning.

      While to law was designed to target people profiteering (like charging extortionate rent and pimping), it can also be used against any body renting out (at normal price) to a prostitute and living off immoral earning can apply to the non-sex worker half of a couple if they split bills (or share incomes) like any other couples... Making normal/social life of prostitutes even harder (no apartment, no boy/girl friend/partner).

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Strangely HMG are quite happy to live off immoral earnings ...

      ... there was a case a few years back where the Inland Revenue had proof a working girl had been paid for sex (cheque or credit card reciepts, and her own admission). She declined to pay, on the basis if she did, HMG would be benefitting from her immoral earnings ... judge threw it out, and she had to pay.

    5. Graham Marsden

      @ Well how about a non-IT solutiion?

      I'm not sure if you're trolling or being ironic or just being stupid here.

      If a woman works in a flat on her own and pays her rent from that money, she is not breaking any laws, nor is the landlord if they take the rent. And how is the Landlord going to *know* what the woman is doing to earn her money unless the landlord starts prying into the private affairs of everyone living in his building?

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Good for the People or Good for Votes

    Further proof that the Labour party (the workers/peoples party!) are actually only interested in winning votes, and not interested in what is best for UK Society. They should have left this website alone to quietly go about its business and 95% of the UK population would have been oblivious.

    Mind you, the other lot are not much better.

    (I don't support prostitution and trafficking - I'm just sensible enough to realise that sometimes you need the little bad things to prevent the big bad things)

    Make your MP work for a living - don't re-elect them on May 6th!

  11. Chris Neale


    What's perverse is that 6 weeks of "investigation, were wasted into a dog crapping on a train platform!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      On the contrary

      I'm far more angry about the dog crapping on the platform than I am about prostitution. If you can't safely walk around a major London terminus without having to worry about treading in dog crap it's a pretty shitty world we're living in

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Did you say that prostitution is an illegal activity? In UK --- I don't think so.

    They have done their best to make sure that almost everything associated with it is illegal, but the simple act of paying for, or being paid foe, sex, remains perfectly lawful, does it not?

    1. Graham Marsden
      Thumb Up


      Yes, it's entirely legal. It's no different from paying any other professional (lawyer, IFA, plumber etc) for their time.

      The only difference is in the minds of Harperson et al who think that "I don't like this, so *you* shouldn't be allowed to do it", which has been the rationale behind much of their stupid and unworkable legislation like the Dangerous Pictures and Dangerous Drawings Acts.

  13. Anton Ivanov

    All dog owners are equal

    Some however, are more equal than the others

  14. philbo

    "No prostitutes for sale"?

    ...for hire, shurely

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    as George Carlin said...

    F***ing is legal.

    Selling is legal.

    Why is it illegal to sell f***ing?

    1. Chris Collins

      It's legal

      Solicting isn't

  16. Anonymous Coward


    I know a couple of women in the "trade", neither of them feel exploited and both seem to be quite happy doing this and seem to earn a damn site more than I do in the IT Industry (in fact one of them used to be an IT worker).

    I'm sure there are some who are used/abused, but do busy-body muppets like this actually think closing a web-site which actually seeks to help those in the business will achieve anything?

    Just another head-line grabbing action which will ultimately do nothing.

    And before you ask, no I haven't availed myself of their services.

  17. Ally J

    Daft, but not surprising

    The trouble is that an issue like sex work is (to use a terrible cliche) low-hanging fruit for politicians. They can easily say 'We are against this', get the Daily Mail on their side, and not really have to think about much.

    It would require a lot more intelligence and hard work so work out a 'solution' to trafficking that is more likely to work. Strangely enough, it's the 'oppressed and exploited' women in groups like IUSW and ECP who are managing to do this, while the politicos just mutter.

  18. Anonymous Coward


    It's perfectly obvious that HH and Co are ideologically opposed to the very idea of prostitution, and all this smoke and mirrors about exploitation and trafficking is just a cover.

    PunterNet et al provide a way to reduce the abuses of women, both directly through the forums, and also indirectly, since a forced worker is hardly likely to get a good review, and a good review will increase 'business' for those who are sex workers through their own free choice.

    So, do the government chose to work WITH these websites, or attack them? Yup...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    wait a moment

    "The Government is committed to reducing the demand for prostitution and tackling sex trafficking, which is illegal, exploits women, and is connected to serious organised crime."

    So...trafficking for sexual exploitation isn't a serious organised crime in the Home Office's view, it's just connected to it?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Serious crime

      Yeah, the Home Office noticed that some trafficked women had cigarettes in their luggage.... cigarette smuggling, now you have a serious organised crime....

  20. Chris Collins

    Reduced demand?

    How do you reduce demand? Cut off everyone's cock and sew up their fannies?

  21. RW
    Thumb Down

    @ AC 14:28 GMT

    "It's perfectly obvious that HH and Co are ideologically opposed to the very idea of prostitution"

    ITYM "It's perfectly obvious that HH & Co are ideologically opposed to the very idea of sex."

  22. Chris Hawkins


    Is this the dog in question here?????????

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Exploiting men

    Am I the only person who thinks these strippers and hookers are exploiting men for our hard earned cash.

    I lived in Bangkok for a while and every time I went out of my apartment I was hassled by prostitutes. I couldn't even go in a reasonably smart bar without being hassled constantly by women looking to dig their way into my wallet.

    I blame the women

  24. b166er

    That's all very well...

    but what exactly was Ms Baird doing at King's Cross?

  25. Abolition

    Wrong state of the union.

    The web-site is in Ohio, Punternet was also an ACPO and Crimestopper stakeholde, the latter even made a 'beautiful sex slave' porn movie to go along with it. However the server itself is part of an adult services facility in Daytona.

  26. Spleen


    "The difficulty of obtaining such a closure has already been addressed: as the main site is based in California, this would require agreement from the US authorities, who are quite wedded to the whole free speech thing."

    Er, I don't think the Americans' famously unswerving committment to the rights of the individual has much to do with it. I doubt you'd get away with running an equivalent service for drug dealers where people could find local pushers and rate them for quality of product, price, friendly service, etc - even though there'd probably be more interest in it.

    This is just a case of the good old special relationship at work. It's not that they believe that the website should remain up, it's just that it isn't doing any harm to Americans so they couldn't care less what our government thinks about it.

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