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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 September, 2003, 18:41 GMT 19:41 UK
UK 'madam' claims escorts chose sex
Palace of Justice in Paris
Margaret Macdonald told the court she ran a legitimate escort agency
A British woman accused of running an international prostitution ring has told a Paris court her escorts could choose whether or not to sleep with clients.

Margaret MacDonald told the court she had always told her employees that sex could take place on a date, but did not have to.

The Sorbonne educated 43-year-old, who faces a 15-year jail sentence if found guilty, denies pimping.

She is said to have employed about 450 escorts and to have had business leaders, politicians and celebrities among her clients.

'Large chest'

Miss Macdonald, who was brought up in Windsor, Berkshire, was arrested in May 2002 in Paris.

The judge challenged Miss MacDonald's claim that her clients sought charming and elegant dates for dinner with no pre-supposition sex would follow.

I myself went out with a man or two and after dinner - inevitably at least one person wants it to go further than the end of the table
Margaret MacDonald

"If a man has requested a date with a large chest, I'm not sure it's her conversation he's interested in," she said.

Answering in perfect French, Miss MacDonald told the judge: "Of course, I know what happens in a hotel room after dinner, whether the girl is paid or not.

"I myself went out with a man or two and after dinner - inevitably at least one person wants it to go further than the end of the table."

The public prosecutor then asked Miss MacDonald what happened if the escort did not want sex.

Speaking from her own experience as an escort in Germany, she replied, she had feigned a headache.

Asked if the customer in that instance paid the full tariff, Miss MacDonald answered: "No, you only pay for what you consume."

'More discreet'

Miss MacDonald said she had chosen to launch her agency in Paris because "the pavements here were invaded by prostitutes from the east".

"I felt my agency was a more discreet way to get people together.

"I am against women working for men, being abused by men.

"I think this is something we women should do between ourselves."

She told the court she was proud of running an agency that employed only the highest-class girls.

All were told to dress elegantly, be nice to clients, shower often and not to smoke, she added.

'Sophisticated and classy'

Investigators subsequently discovered what they believe to be a list of 450 prostitutes - including about 30 men - on her laptop computer.

The prostitutes are said to have charged about 1,000 euros per hour (700), 40% of which allegedly went to Ms MacDonald.

The French police have described Ms MacDonald as "sophisticated, classy and extremely efficient".

She is a highly qualified businesswoman who speaks eight languages including Greek, Arabic and Japanese.

The case continues.

Briton 'ran prostitution empire'
15 May 02  |  UK News

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