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A mother-of-two accused of running a £500,000 a year online escort agency told a court: “My two favourite things in the world are money and sex”.Marie McKinlay, 40, is alleged to have employed up to 25 high-class prostitutes with an array of talents including “girlfriend experience” to experience as a pornography actress.
Prosecutors claim the former escort bankrolled her two daughters’ private school education with her profits from Agency Allure and rented a £1,500 a month four-bed home.
Clients were charged between £300 an hour and £1,500 for a 14-hour overnight booking that “must include some sleep”.
Giving evidence yesterday Mrs McKinlay, who denies controlling a lucrative prostitution ring, she admitted forming the agency in 2002 with five other women who all “in control”.
Asked why she began in the vice trade, she told Southwark Crown Court: “I’ve been asked this question many times over the years and the way I answer it is, my two favourite things in the world are money and sex, I absolutely love both of them, and a job that allows me to put them both together, why wouldn’t I?”
She said she had been able to meet “a class of gentlemen that I had never met before”. She added: “Wealthy people, not just wealthy people, people who worked in certain careers, like the City.”
It said it enabled her to meet a “broader spectrum of people” and lead a lavish lifestyle including trips to Dubai, Paris, Geneva, where she stayed in five star hotels
Mrs McKinlay said she began work as hostess in her mid-twenties at the Stork Club, in Piccadilly, after a stint as a wardrobe assistant on the West End production of Miss Saigon.
She said she left the club because she ‘got sick of the drinking’, telling jurors she ‘had to drink champagne and only champagne’ from 9pm to 2am every day.
She then worked as an escort both independently and for a woman based in South Kensington before setting up Allure.
She said that by 2003 she was the only remaining founder member and following the birth of her first child she had taken over running the administrative side of the business.
She told the court that photos used online were supplied and owned by the girls and that any information on their online profile was checked by the girls before it was put on the website.
Prosecutors allege McKinlay, who was detained at an address in Southampton in July 2011, banked more than £350,000 in profits from the racket.
Mrs McKinlay, of Lewisham, southeast London, denies controlling prostitution for gain and converting criminal property between December 2008 and July 2011.
The trial continues.
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