Two sex workers lost their legal battle against Scotland Yard yesterday after claiming that the mass closure of brothels in the heart of London's red-light district put them at greater risk of attack.
Eighteen brothels were shuttered after raids following an undercover operation that was said to have revealed links to crimes including trafficking and rape. But at least six sex workers have fought the closures, claiming they had not been coerced into working and that closing the brothels would make their work more unsafe.
In the first of three appeals being heard over two weeks, two women yesterday lost their battle to have their flats reopened after a judge found that unknown figures were "controlling" prostitution in the area. The judge, Judy Khan QC, cited the "bizarre" payments of daily rent left in a microwave, and a shift system in operation.
Dozens of officers were involved in the raids in December, in which women claimed they were forced on to the street in their underwear. The vicar for St Anne's Church in Soho, who was briefed by police before the operation, said there was a "clear case" that something had gone "extremely wrong".
Yesterday's failed legal challenge followed the killing last month of Maria Duque-Tunjano (48) who was beaten to death while she worked alone at a flat in west London.
She was the 142nd sex worker to have been killed since 1990.
A man has been charged with Ms Duque-Tunjano's murder. (© Independent News Service)