Former charity worker on prostitution charge

A former charity worker made hundreds of thousands of pounds by operating what he claimed was the "biggest and best" brothel in the country, a court heard yesterday.

Simon Peters, 55, allegedly ran the business from a £700,000 mansion extravagantly furnished with theme rooms, a pole dancing area and secret listening devices.

Mr Peters, who was also claiming state benefits, reportedly employed up to 30 "dynamic" girls while his profits were paid into a bank account called "Women Come First", left over from a charity for which he had once been a co-signatory.

At the opening of his trial at Southwark Crown Court, Mr Peters denied nine counts of living on prostitution between January 1999 and December 2002. He also pleaded not guilty to an allegation of "doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of justice", which allegedly included sending "letters of a threatening nature to witnesses".

The court heard that Mr Peters allegedly ran the business with the help of his lover, Julie Watts, also known as Bonnie Blair, who admitted a charge of living on prostitution at an earlier hearing.

Peter Grieves-Smith, for the prosecution, described how regular visitors enjoyed "loyalty membership schemes" while new customers were entitled to discounts on services, ranging from "hand relief" for £25 to a £200 package entitled "VIP Two Girl Services".

At least £120,000 was found in Mr Peters' Women Come First account, according to Mr Grieves-Smith. The hearing continues.