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Vice trade bids farewell to Madame Stiletto

It was an extremely ostentatious funeral for one of the most shadowy figures of recent years. Madame Stiletto who controlled one of the biggest prostitution rackets in the West End for almost four decades has died.

The simple oak coffin could barely be seen under the floral tributes which came in all shapes and sizes. The event was monitored by a man with a diamond embedded in his front teeth which glinted in the sunshine as he advised outsiders to leave the premises.

The streets around the crematorium in Golders Green were packed with Jaguars, BMWs, Mercedes and Rovers as the mourners came to pay their respects.

Her real name was Mary Daly but her nickname came from the single purple stiletto which was placed in the window of each of her brothels.

For as long as anyone could remember she worked in West End flats and those who knew her say her motto was simple: "Her God was the pound note."

Her life was strictly organised - she worked five days on and five days off. On working days, she left her house, near North Wembley tube station, and went to one of her basement flats in Gloucester Place, Marylebone. There she would sit and smoke and answer the telephone which rang continuously.

Each of her six working flats was occupied by a maid and a prostitute paying up to pounds 175 a day in rent.

Madame Stiletto made a fortune from that and from the loan shark enterprise that she ran at the expense of the women she helped to set up as prostitutes.

But according to the women who worked for her, she was ruthless in extracting the money from them and would then abandon them to die in penury.

The fortune she amassed will be shared between her two sons.