Page last updated at 16:52 GMT, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Court rejects undercover sex case in Nottingham

A man should not have been prosecuted for asking a woman for sex in a Nottingham red light district, a High Court judge has ruled.

The man was arrested for a public nuisance offence by an undercover police officer, in Mapperley Road.

The case, from July 2008, had been thrown out by magistrates previously, but prosecutors tried to reopen it.

At the High Court earlier, Lord Justice Elias criticised prosecutors for trying to criminalise lawful conduct.

'Quite hopeless'

The police sting operation took place after complaints from Mapperley residents about the impact of prostitution in the area.

A police officer posed as "Sarah", a prostitute, and agreed a price for sex with the man after he approached her.

Magistrates cleared him of any offence, ruling he had done nothing wrong.

But the Director of Public Prosecutions tried to re-open the case in the High Court.

However, Lord Justice Elias said the attempt was "quite hopeless" and upheld the ruling a single incident of asking a woman for sex in a known red light district could not amount to a nuisance.

He added "a single, otherwise lawful, act" does not become a criminal offence just because other people are carrying out "similar, otherwise lawful, activity" in the same area.

Observing prosecuting authorities were using "wholly artificial" concepts to criminalise lawful conduct which they considered to be "reprehensible", Lord Justice Elias urged all courts to have "no truck with it".

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