Thursday 16 May 2013
Brothel keeper Cynthia Payne, whose clients allegedly include vicars, barristers and a peer of the realm, has her sentence reduced to six months
Brothel keeper Cynthia Payne in 1980. Photograph: Evening Standard/Getty Images
A 48 year-old “madame” whose brothel was said to be used by a peer of the realm, a member of the Irish Parliament, several vicars, barristers and solicitors, yesterday lost her appeal against a gaol sentence but succeeded in winning a reduction from 18 to 6 months.
The reputed nobility and eminence of the clientele of the Streatham brothel on the day of the “luncheon voucher” Christmas party last December was also called into question at the High Court in London yesterday.
The court heard that from correspondence to Miss Cynthia Payne, the brothel “madame,” it was established that over several years all of these categories of people had been clients. But Lord Justice Lawton, presiding, said there was “not a shred of evidence” that any of them was actually there on the night Miss Payne was arrested.
The evidence which suggested otherwise was “irresponsible.” It had led to widespread publicity and “some very amusing cartoons,” he added.
Lord Justice Lawton said that of the 53 clients who had been at the party, the court now had the names of 49. Mr Justice Michael Davies had gone through that list and “there was not one single barrister among the names” – at least none whose name now appeared on the Bar list.
Mr Justice Michael Davies told the court he was “convinced” he would find the same result if he cross-checked the names with lists of vicars.
“It’s no use saying we found an unfrocked vicar there once two years ago,” he added. Lord Justice Lawton said the court did not have “unlimited powers of check” and it had not been possible to check on whether or not a peer and a member of the Irish Parliament had attended – but if the peer was there his name was apparently not in “Who’s Who.”
Later Miss Payne’s solicitor, Mr David Offenbach, criticised the judge for being “more concerned about the apparent respectability of customers rather than the plight of an unwell, middle-aged woman sent to prison.”
“This confirms the hypocrisy of the law by punishing the woman but letting her customers go free,” he said.
Ms Selma Jones, spokeswoman for the English Collective of Prostitutes, said men should “change the law to suit their habits.” However they would not be revealing the names of clients as many of them had supported Miss Payne after her arrest.
As far as Miss Payne’s offence was concerned, Lord Justice Lawton said it was essentially one of brothel-keeping. In 12 days police had seen 249 men and 50 women going into a house at Streatham – an average of 21 men a day.
Miss Payne, a small, dark-haired plump woman wearing a brown jumper and brown skirt, was led away quietly from the dock.
About a dozen members of the English Collective of Prostitutes waved to her as she went. Afterwards, one member described her as “the typical whore with a golden heart,” who once refused to charge a vicar because he was bankrupt. The average fee at the suburban house in Streatham was apparently about £25.
Cynthia Payne was arrested when a party at her house in Streatham was raided by police in December 1978. She was convicted for “keeping a disorderly house” in April 1980.