Two men convicted over illegal sperm donor firm

Two men are facing jail after they were convicted yesterday of running an illegal fertility company that gave women access to sperm donors. Nigel Woodforth, 43, ran the operation from the basement of his home in Reading, Berkshire, with 49-year-old Ricky Gage. A jury at Southwark Crown Court, in south London, convicted both men of three counts each of providing sperm without a licence or third-party agreement.

The pair, who earned £250,000 from the enterprise, will be sentenced next Friday. Judge Deborah Taylor said: "The court is considering a custodial sentence and/or a fine in relation to these matters."

Nearly 800 women signed up to use the online service provided by the company, which operated under various names including Sperm Direct Limited and First4Fertility. Their website introduced would-be donors to women trying to conceive.

Professor Lisa Jardine, chairwoman of the HFEA, which regulates fertility treatment, said: "We will continue to work with the police to prevent more women from being exploited by those who break the law."