This headline in the Evening Chronicle (Newcastle Upon Tyne) illustrates the targeting of brothels by the police for financial gain. This is a policy that has dangerous consequences for sex workers who no longer can trust the police and therefore are targeted by criminals who know that the police are more interested in prosecuting sex workers than vicious criminals. The article also illustrates the often blatant hypocrisy of the press who gloat maliciously at the prosecution of sex workers while making money from selling sex worker adverts from (n this case) sister publications. It is also sickening to note how angry they are that insufficient funds in their opinion are being seized. It is a pity they don’t note how much their company makes from escort adverts.
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JUST £42,000 has been seized from a brothel “madame” who is estimated to have made £500,000 from the sex trade.
Hai Hong Liu ran a seedy brothel empire around the North East for which she was jailed two years ago.
Now she has been hauled back to court as the authorities try to claw back some of her ill-gotten gains in a confiscation hearing.
Prosecutors initially claimed Liu had benefited to the tune of £499,722 from her work as a madame.
But she was ordered to pay back just £42,212 after a judge ruled her benefit from crime could only be proved to have been £60,000.
She was also given a fresh four-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, after breaching a restraint order placed on her assets.
Liu had been banned from accessing a bank account of hers which contained £30,000 but, within months of the order, she had withdrawn £24,000 of it.
She claimed £2,500 of it had gone on a gambling habit and said she was a member of least six casinos.
Liu, 56, went on to breach the order twice more by selling two takeaway businesses which were part of the restraint order.
Imposing the sentence Judge Guy Whitburn, at Newcastle Crown Court, said Liu was an “intelligent and devious woman” and said he suspected that, before working as a madame, she had “served an apprenticeship in the oldest profession herself”.
The judge added: “I was intending sending her to prison immediately for these serious breaches of the restraint order. However, having heard defence submissions, I have decided to suspend that sentence.”
Liu was jailed for nine months in 2010 after she admitted controlling prostitution for gain and acting in the management of brothels in Jesmond, Newcastle, and in Darlington.
The brothels were based in rented homes and attracted customers through down-market newspaper adverts.
The scam came to an end when police posed as punters and were offered a range of “services”.
That led to a series of raids at sex dens in Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland and County Durham.
A hand-written love letter linked top civil servant John David Wilkinson to Liu, who he had first met as a customer.
He would later be fined for helping her run the debauched operation.
Liu, originally from China, but now living in Eastbourne Avenue, Shipcote, Gateshead, turned her back on a career as an interior designer and went on to work in restaurants and then as a prostitute.
Fellow prostitutes, mostly from China and South East Asia, were put in the brothels and their services advertised.
Wilkinson, 62, of Moorhill Court, Sunderland, who was previously a grade seven civil servant, admitted controlling prostitution at the original hearing.
Liu must pay back the £42,212 within six months and faces 12 months prison in default if she fails to pay up.