Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Briton 'ran prostitution empire'

MacDonald was arrested leaving a Paris hotel.
MacDonald was arrested leaving a Paris hotel.

A British woman has been arrested in France on suspicion of masterminding an international prostitution ring, the Foreign Office has confirmed.

Margaret MacDonald, 43, was reportedly taken into custody over the weekend as she left a hotel in Paris's exclusive Avenue Wagram accompanied by three women.

"We have heard about the case of an alleged madam running an international prostitution ring"
— British Embassy spokeswoman

Officials at the British Embassy, in Paris, were trying to gain access to Ms MacDonald, who is accused of recruiting and hiring out hundreds of call-girls and rent boys.

"I can confirm that we have heard about the case of an alleged madam running an international prostitution ring," the embassy spokeswoman said.

"Our consular service is trying to track this down so that they can provide a consular visit very soon."

Wealthy clientele

Ms MacDonald, who was born in Bedford, allegedly collected 40% of up to 620 charged by her escorts per hour for their services.

Most of her clients were wealthy businessmen, investigators said.

Police said they had seized four mobile phones, five mobile phone data chips and a laptop computer, which held the names of 430 call-girls and 30 male prostitutes in Europe, the US and Israel.

Ms MacDonald, who went to school in London, denies knowingly involving herself in the sex trade.

She has told investigators she was running an honest escort service.

No address

The alleged madam is said to have no fixed address, and to divide her time between exclusive hotels worldwide.

Investigators said Ms MacDonald used as many as 10 mobile phones and advertised in newspapers and on the Internet.

Ms MacDonald is said to speak eight languages and divide her time between Paris, Athens and Milan.

French police have been seeking her since the arrest of a 21-year-old Laura Schleich, who was running a prostitution ring that was allegedly an offshoot of Ms MacDonald's global operation.

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Created: November 29, 2003
Last modified: January 17, 2004
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