Call girl cut-off

IN A quiet leafy street a 54-year-old woman has been offering sex to paying customers in a secluded house.

Sophie Neil, who suffers from arthritis, has offered punters a host of services, from kinky physical relations to saucy phone chat, for years.

But her actions have only come to light because of a complaint about her phone line.

Her neighbours in Waterloo Drive, Banbury, had no idea they had a prostitute operating on their doorstep.

This week they were coming to terms with the news, though most seem unconcerned.

Ms Neil advertised her services on a recorded message via a premium rate mobile telephone number and a website with links, which give details of her services and charges, with an hour visit costing 100.

Operating at certain times and days of the week, she also offers to get her 'mature naughty lady friend' involved.

Her actions were uncovered in March by an investigation by Icstis, an independent regulator of premium rate telecommunications services.

Following a tip-off from BT, it looked into her enterprise and found she contravened their regulations.

Icstis fined her 2,500 but she appealed on the grounds of financial hardship and a review panel decided she will not have to pay unless she re-offends in the next year. A bar was put on the number.

Speaking to the Banbury Guardian this week, Ms Neil said: "As long as it's about consenting adults I cannot see a problem; I have never done anything that was illegal. There are loads of women offering services like mine.

"Many men find themselves extremely lonely and unhappy. This isn't about morals, it's about necessities and freedom of choice; men have needs, they are not built to be monogamous and services like mine relieve a big social problem."

Ms Neil looks after the Waterloo Drive property but lives in another part of Banbury. She claims she now has no plans to carry on offering her services. Though the premium phone service is no longer active her website is still running.

Ms Neil, who is a carer for her elderly parents, began operating as a prostitute after becoming friends with someone who worked as an escort.

"You do different things in different parts of your life, and this is something that I can pick up or put down as I wish," she said.

Icstis's investigation ruled her website and premium rate number breached their guidelines. It promoted/facilitated prostitution; gave no pricing information about the mobile number; did not say the caller should be over the age of 18, have the bill payer's permission and that call details may appear on the telephone bill; and her number did not began with an 0909 or an 0908 prefix, required for adult premium rate services.

Ms Neil says she started the premium phone line number to help pay for a friend's private medication about a year ago.

She put many of the breaches down to technical faults and said she never meant to mislead or con anybody, and never made more than 20 a week from the premium rate line, calls to which lasted about two-and-a-half minutes.

Waterloo Drive residents said they had no idea what had been taking place just meters from their homes, though one, who wished to remain anonymous, said it explained various events.

"There were always lots of comings and goings at the house and noises into the night," they said. "I'm not happy that it's going on, it seems quite deceitful, and it's not good for the area."

But other neighbours were less concerned. Priscilla Ormerod said: "If it were young children or people being exploited that would be awful, but if it's a grown up decision I don't have a big problem; I'm certainly not outraged."

William Trevethick said: "I have no problem with it; I've lived nearby prostitutes before and they're very good neighbours; they're always conscious of upsetting their neighbours and are very quiet. And I don't feel it lowers the tone of the area."