Edinburgh sauna to lose licence after police raids

ER: The New Town Sauna was one of seven raided by police last month. Picture: Dan Phillips

ER: The New Town Sauna was one of seven raided by police last month. Picture: Dan Phillips

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A CITY sauna was today set to lose its licence in the wake of police raids – as Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill insisted there had been no change to Edinburgh’s pragmatic approach to prostitution.

Council chiefs refused to identify the premises concerned, which has already seen an emergency suspension of its public entertainment licence.

It is understood the property is the New Town Sauna in Hart Street – one of seven raided by police earlier this month.

Councillors on Edinburgh’s licensing sub-committee were today expected to agree to a police request for the suspension to be made permanent.

Police sources said five more of the Capital’s 13 saunas are also due to be brought to the sub-committee’s attention.

The crackdown came as Mr MacAskill, pictured right, appeared to send the clearest signal yet that police would stick to the Capital’s long-established pragmatic approach to prostitution, despite the recent raids. Questioned in the Scottish Parliament by Independent Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald on a possible change in approach following the move to a single Scotland-wide police force, he said: “Local matters will continue to prevail”.

Ms MacDonald had asked for an assurance that the “successful policy in managing prostitution” adopted by Lothian & Borders and Grampian Police would continue rather than switch to the “failure, relatively, of zero tolerance in Strathclyde”.

Mr MacAskill replied: “I think everybody in the east of Scotland is aware that there have been fewer deaths in relation to prostitution.

“Where police obtain intelligence of criminality, whether relating to trafficking, sexual exploitation, drugs, money laundering, or other matters, it is important it is acted upon.

“But I can give an assurance, having met with Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham and Chief Superintendent Ruth Gilfillan, who is in charge of the trafficking unit, that local matters will continue to prevail and other matters will simply be policed, quite correctly and understandably, acting on intelligence.”

Earlier this month, Margaret Paterson and Robert Munro, both 61, were convicted of running a brothel and nationwide escort business from a flat in Edinburgh’s West End. It has been estimated Paterson – dubbed Madam Moneybags because she stashed away huge sums of cash in her cluttered flat – made more than £1 million from the Grosvenor Street AaBella Escorts business.