Saturday 25 March 2017

Premier League manager faces questions over visit to brothel

Photographer saw Portsmouth boss Avram Grant leave 'massage parlour'

Gordon Rayner in London

Avram Grant, the Premier League football manager, faces being questioned by UK vice squad officers after he was seen visiting a brothel which is the subject of a police investigation.

The Portsmouth boss was photographed leaving the Thai "massage parlour" near his club's training ground. Police sources confirmed yesterday that they were pursuing an active investigation into the brothel, where prostitutes charge up to £130 (€149) for sex. Officers intend to speak to clients of the brothel, who would be potential witnesses if the inquiry resulted in a prosecution of anyone alleged to be living off immoral earnings.

Israel-born Grant, who has two children aged 12 and 15, spent around an hour inside the premises on December 18 last year before he was confronted by a reporter as he left.

Asked if he knew it was a brothel, the former Chelsea manager smiled and said: "Yes." He refused to say what he had been doing there.

Last year a tabloid newspaper reported that a Premier League manager had been caught visiting a brothel, but did not name him or identify the location.

At the time, the newspaper blamed "creeping privacy laws" for preventing it from publishing further details.

It followed a number of cases in which wealthy and famous individuals had successfully used the British Human Rights Act to gag the media.

Landmark

But a landmark ruling by Mr Justice Tugendhat last week swung the pendulum back in favour of freedom of speech, when he revoked an injunction granted to John Terry, the Chelsea and England captain, which had blocked reporting of his extra-marital affair.

Mr Justice Tugendhat commented that while "freedom to live as one chooses" was a valuable principle, "so is the freedom to criticise -- within the limits of the law -- the conduct of other members of society as being socially harmful or wrong".

In recent weeks, Grant's name has been widely circulated on the internet, with more than 10,000 references to the brothel visit on various websites, and an investigation by the 'Daily Telegraph' has established that he is the manager in question. This week Grant (54) declined to answer questions about the brothel visit which were put to him via his solicitor.

The brothel, which is close to Portsmouth's training ground in Eastleigh, Hampshire, is housed in an anonymous industrial unit in the village of Horton Heath.

A spokesman for Hampshire Police said: "We are aware of certain allegations that have been made in connection with that location. There is nothing to evidence the allegations at the moment."

But a source close to the investigation confirmed that it was "active", adding: "We want to speak to people who have been there, to clients who might be potential witnesses."

Prostitution is not against the law in the UK, nor is using the services of a prostitute in a private place, but keeping a brothel is illegal under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, and carries a maximum prison sentence of seven years. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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