The Minister for Women, Jo Swinson, has urged the police to investigate anyone suspected of taking advantage of students or forcing vulnerable women into prostitution.
In a written response to a question by the Labour MP and former minister Helen
Goodman, Swinson said she was aware of the SponsorAScholar.co.uk website, which has now been taken down following an undercover investigation by The Independent.
The man responsible for the site, which offered students up to
£ 15,000 a year in exchange for intimate encounters with wealthy businessmen or sponsors , was revealed this week to be Mark Lancaster, an IT consultant.
There is mounting concern that high student fees
could be forcing people into sex work to cover their debt.
Swinson defended the Government's high fees policy:
No eligible student has to pay for their tuition up-front. Loans are available to meet the full cost
of tuition charges at publicly funded institutions.
Update: We don't want people having fun or earning money now, do we?
14th December 2012. See
Police investigating a website offering payment of tuition fees for female students in return for sex have arrested a man on suspicion of inciting prostitution.
After an undercover expose by the Independent into a man who claimed to be an
assessor for SponsorAScholar.co.uk, Mark Lancaster was detained by police from the Metropolitan Police's Trafficking and Prostitution Unit.
The computer consultant was questioned and released on police bail. He will return to Charing Cross
police station in central London in February.
SponsorAScholar.co.uk offered female students aged 17 to 24 up to £ 15,000 a year in return for what it described as discreet adventures with businessmen in
private flats or hotel rooms.
The Independent story followed mounting concern that rising student fees could be forcing young people into sex work to cover their debt with experts claiming the site was the tip of the iceberg .
27th April 2013. See
Mark Lancaster, who was arrested by Scotland Yard officers following an investigation by The Independent into the SponsorAScholar website, was told that
his case will be heard by a Crown Court.
He is accused of two offences under the Sexual Offences Act allegedly committed between 1 September and 30 September last year. One charge is an allegation of voyeurism and the second accuses him of
trafficking a woman within the United Kingdom for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
20th July 2013. See
article from independent.co.uk
Computer consultant Mark Lancaster has been jailed for 16 months for voyeurism and trafficking after using sex for fees website to dupe student into having sex with him
The prosecutors took the opportunity to inflate trafficking figures by adding a ludicrous trafficking charge on the grounds that the victim was duped into travelling to meet Lancaster, hence was 'trafficked'.