Anorak News | Emma Barnett – interrogating the sins of the father

Emma Barnett – interrogating the sins of the father

by | 14th, September 2020

Emma Barnett is the new presenter of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. She’s a terrific interviewer, possessed of that that rare knack of coming over as warm and intelligent whilst her interviewee blinks in the crosshairs. The Indy calls Barnett the “feminist champion set to breathe new life into Woman’s Hour.” By way of a bonus to tabloid readers, Barnett’s backstory contains lurid tales. The Observer lays it out:

Her mother, Michelle, trained as special needs teacher, while her father, Ian, was a businessman who then became the centre of a sensational drama briefly in 2010 when it was revealed that he had run a series of brothels, with the tacit if grudging consent of the Greater Manchester Police.

You might want to know more about that. The Mail says the places at names like “Dolly Mixtures, Foreign Touch and Angels”. But having reported the broadest facts, the Observer is dismissive of anyone showing more interest:

Understandably perhaps, Barnett, who has otherwise spoken of a happy childhood, does not talk about this doubtless painful subject. It has, however, provoked a recent flurry of internet shaming attempts since the Woman’s Hour job announcement.

Internet shaming? Only a fool would blame to a woman for their father’s criminality. And then:

It is the kind of history-trawling, blame-gamery that will now shadow every move that Barnett makes.

When does research, which is useful, mutate into history trawling, which sounds bad? Does any of it affect her ability to do the job? Might it not help Barnett when the discussion turns to sex, crime and parents?

The Sun notes:

During her second year of university at Nottingham, Emma returned to Manchester to find her family home had been raided by police.

It was then that Emma discovered that her father, Ian Barnett, had suffered a dramatic financial change when she was aged 14 and this had driven him to become involved in illegal massage parlours.

Some sympathy for Mr Barnett from the Sun, then. In 2011, the Manchester Evening News’ headline was punchier:

Given the title “brothel baron”, the paper reported that he had “made more than £5m” from the business. Selling sex pays well. But what of the women working in the brothels in Shudehill, Cheetham Hill, Levenshulme and Altrincham? We hear of only one:

He was charged following a report a 19-year-old woman from Lithuania had been forced to work in the Shudehill brothel after being trafficked to Britain by an Albanian gang. She was rescued by police following a tip-off in 2005. Mr Barnett was jailed for three years and eight months in 2008 after he admitted keeping a string of brothels, controlling prostitution and conspiracy to control brothels.

An earlier proceeds of crime hearing was told clients would be charged £40 for an hour, with £25 going to the prostitute and the remainder to Mr Barnett. He made more than £5m over six years.

The Mail noted:

Barnett had been arrested after a Lithuanian teenager known as Rita was illegally smuggled into the country by an Albanian gang and ended up working at one of his brothels.

Police discovered that a photograph of her posted on the internet to advertise her services had been taken by a camera identical to one found in his Rolls-Royce.

Mr Barnett were ever arrested let alone charged with anything to do with smuggling or people trafficking. And neither was his good lady wife. The MEN again:

A TEACHING assistant has been convicted of laundering thousands of pounds made by her husband’s string of brothels.

Michele Barnett [sic], 55, a £7,000-a-year special needs teaching assistant at King David School in Prestwich, was sentenced to six months in jail, suspended for two years.

Manchester Crown Court heard mortgage payments on the mum’s lavish five-bedroom home in Ingledene Avenue, Broughton Park, were made with cash from the brothels of her husband Ian Barnett.


Three judges at the Court of Appeal in London upheld a claim that a Manchester judge had wrongly ordered the confiscation of £4.2 million of brothel earnings made by Ian Barnett, 60, from Prestwich. Mr Barnett had already forfeited £21,000 in the first of his two convictions for operating brothels, preventing a judge from confiscating immoral earnings from the previous six years, under a legal technicality. He is now liable for £873,010 of immoral gains made after 2005.

The court heard that Mr Barnett’s prostitution businesses, “whilst not condoned by the local police, did receive a measure of tacit approval over a period of time.” Mr Barnett claimed that Greater Manchester Police gave a kind of legal permission to run his brothels in return for co-operation and assurances that his businesses did not involve drugs or under-age girls.

You can read the findings of Barnett v Regina online. And if you want to pour over one thing, how about this bit from the Mail’s report. Mr Barnett represented himself at the assets confiscation hearing at Manchester Crown Court:

From the witness stand, he repeatedly criticised police and insisted he had been a victim of an abuse of the judicial process.He questioned Judge David Hernandez, saying: ‘You have been a judge for what – a year?’ The judge responded: ‘I have told you, that line of argument does not assist you.’

Tenacious. Unflinching. And unafraid to back himself in a tight spot. Emma Barnett might well have something to thank her father for.

Posted: 14th, September 2020 | In: News Comment | TrackBack | Permalink