The Liberal Democrats have said Manchester City Council is wrong to welcome undercover video footage from the anti-strip club campaign group Not Buying It.
The party, which has long-believed in legalising sex-work including prostitution, has warned that if the footage was to leak it could “seriously endanger the safety of the workers.”
Dancers and strippers involved said they are “terrified” after the anti-sex work group filmed private strip dances in Manchester-based Victoria’s and Obsessions clubs.
They claim to have footage of illegal sexual acts being offered and breaches of licensing rules.
Not Buying It was set up to challenge exploitation in pornography and the sex trade. In March, they took the “drastic step” of hiring investigators to film strippers to “expose how the industry really operates”.
Manchester City Council said officials have launched an investigation into the two clubs after the footage from Not Buying It was presented to them.
A spokesperson said: “We thank Not Buying It for bringing this matter to our attention.”
Not Buying It stages regular protests, including at Lib Dem conference where they accused the party of supporting ‘pimps’, sex traffickers and pornographers.
Manchester-based dancer ‘Daisy’ said, “I consent to being on CCTV because it keeps me safe but I didn’t consent to them filming me.
“We have a right to our body, despite what we do for a job, and they’ve taken that right completely away from us.”
She said her biggest fear was the footage being leaked.
The United Voices of the World Union (UVW) have compared it to “revenge porn”, whilst the pro-sex work Liberal Democrats criticised the move as a “completely inappropriate invasion of privacy.”
The party’s Equalities Spokesperson April Preston said she was “appalled that Manchester Council has welcomed the footage” and hopes the same level of scrutiny is applied to the strip club bosses.
Describing it as “entrapment”, Preston added: “Instead of going after workers, Liberal Democrats would legalise sex work and focus on the safety and employment rights of women.
“We fully support unionisation to ensure the same scrutiny and accountability you would find in any other line of work and will work with anyone to help reinforce this.”
Meanwhile, the Women’s Equality Party’s called for a total ban on lap dancing in the city.
A spokesperson for Victoria’s said it had “taken these allegations seriously” and was co-operating fully with the council investigation” but had “not knowingly contravened or permitted the contravention of any term or condition of their licence.”
Obsessions did not comment.