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Two convicted over sperm racket

Two men are facing jail after being convicted of running an illegal fertility company providing women with access to sperm donors.

Nigel Woodforth, 43, ran the operation from the basement of his home in Reading, Berkshire, with 49-year-old Ricky Gage.

A jury at Southwark Crown Court, south London, convicted both men of three counts each of providing sperm without a licence or third party agreement.

The pair, who earned £250,000 from the enterprise, will be sentenced next Friday.

Judge Deborah Taylor told the men: "The court is considering a custodial sentence and/or a fine in relation to these matters."

Nearly 800 women signed up to use the online service provided by the company, operating under various names including Sperm Direct Limited and First4Fertility. Their website introduced would-be donors to women trying to conceive.

It is the first time anyone has been prosecuted under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. The men were reported to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) after one woman who used their service complained about their unprofessional standards.

Melissa Bhalla-Pentley was hoping to have a baby with her partner when she ordered the sperm through the Fertility First website set up by Gage and Woodforth.

She paid the men an £80 joining fee and a further £300, the cost of using the service for each menstrual cycle. She then had to pay a courier company £150 for each delivery of sperm, £50 of which would be given to the sperm donor.

Under the HFEA's Act, the company should have had a licence. The defendants claimed they did not need one as they acted only as an introduction database.


From Belfast Telegraph