Computer consultant Mark Lancaster's case sent to Crown Court over sexual exploitation charges after Independent published story about SponsorAScholar website

Father-of-two is accused of running website that offered to pay women's university fees in exchange for sex

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The Independent Online

A computer consultant accused of seeking to lure a woman into sexual exploitation through a website that offered to pay the university fees of female students had his case sent to the Crown Court.

Mark Lancaster, 39, who was arrested by Scotland Yard officers following an investigation by The Independent into the SponsorAScholar website, was told that his case will be heard by a judge next month at a brief hearing at the Westminster Magistrates Court in central London.

The father-of-two, from Horndean, Hampshire, is accused under the Sexual Offences Act of two offences allegedly committed during September last year. One charge is an allegation of voyeurism and the second accuses him of trafficking a woman within the United Kingdom for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

The IT consultant, who was previously employed as a sub-contractor for military computer systems run by the Ministry of Defence including software used during the invasion of Iraq, did not enter a plea to the charges against him.

He will be appear before Southwark Crown Court early next month.

The computer expert was detained in December by the Trafficking and Prostitution Unit of the Metropolitan Police at an address in Milton Keynes.  He was later released on bail.

The SponsorAScholar website claimed to be able to arrange for young women to be matched with clients willing to pay up to £15,000 a year to cover tuition fees and living expenses in return for sexual relations.

It was removed shortly after The Independent published a story about its activities.

Mr Lancaster, who left the court with his face wrapped in a scarf and wearing a baseball cap, was remanded on bail until 10 July.