Guardian website advertises escort agency

If you get a moment, head to the Guardian’s website and subscribe to Dave Hill‘s new weekly e-mail, Metropolitan Lines. Dave’s been a backer of this blog since the beginning and his thoughtful site on London life and politics has been a terrific addition to the Guardian’s web offering since it took it on last year. In fact, I’d go so far as to argue that together with Hélène Mulholland‘s City Hall reporting, the Guardian website now offers better London reporting than the Evening Standard has done for a long while, even under its new regime.

But I’ve got a beef with the Guardian at the moment – a comment of mine on one of Dave’s posts, about mainline train firms further delaying the use of Oyster pay-as-you-go on their services, was mysteriously excised a few days after it was posted. Yes, I’ll concede, it did contain bad language, but with asterisks to indicate in a light-hearted manner that Dave’s correspondent who alerted him to the story had a stronger view on it than “Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr”. This expression of south London anger clearly did not pass muster with the Graun’s moderators in its north London HQ – but if it was so bad, why the hell it took them a couple of days to delete it is beyond me. It doesn’t help them set standards for the site, or help users understand their standards, if they’re so slow to delete things they think are a bit rude. Strange.

Indeed, the Guardian’s not being very vigilant on the ad front either. It takes its ads from Google, and is happily affixing them to this story about Boris Johnson’s welcome announcement that he’s increasing the London living wage….
What’s that at the bottom? Straight males required? Well, since I’m lacking an income at the moment…

Welcome to Adult Job Finder, The Number one portal for Straight Males Working in The Adult Industry
Our main Clients currently have a requirement for Straight Males aged between 18 and 60, Pay Rates are 110 pounds per hour and positions are available immediately on a nationwide basis. For more Info and an application Click below.

£110/hour? Quick, click!

Male Escort Services is a straight male escorting company and not a dating agency, therefore we do not pad out our site or any of our operations with any needless marketing bumf! Quite simply we supply male escorts to our clients which means only one thing!!

Indeed, if you’re a woman wanting to book a male prostitute, you can do so via this outfit. As they say on the ad – this means only one thing!! The Guardian is taking ads from an escort agency.

This is from the same newspaper whose columnists regularly lambast the sex industry. Sure, they’re just opinion pieces, but I very much doubt an ad for “straight females” would make it onto their website, so why should an ad for “straight males”?

Moral issues aside, it’d just be good if the paper took a consistent line – after all, isn’t sticking an ad like this at the foot of a story about low wages like job centres advertising for nude cleaners and mucky phone line operators? Hopefully the Guardian will clean up its act.

UPDATE 6.45pm: Turns out the ad shouldn’t be there anyway – it’s been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority after someone who was successful in getting onto the firm’s books complained he was charged a registration fee, contrary to the claim in the ad. “The ad must not appear again in its current form,” the ASA ruled on 29 April. Oh dear.


  1. AdamB

    This is the problem with taking Google ads. I used to have them on my own blog but took them down when I realised that you have very little control over what links come up. The ads that appear are dependent on the keywords in your text so on this article, ‘jobs’, ‘wage’, ’employment’ etc have led to Google serving ads for adult jobs. It’s not quite the same as the Guardian ‘taking ads’ from the sex industry but it’s a grey area.

  2. darryl853

    But it has to be possible for a big customer like the Guardian to block certain advertisers, surely? I’m sure the primitive version of Google Adsense that I used on my football blog had that (so I could block “tickets for Crystal Palace!” or something like that). Agree it’s a grey area, but it’s no good for large media outfits to hide behind Google when things like that pop up.

  3. AdamB

    Maybe you should point it out to them. I’m sure they’d block it if they knew, especially with the ASA ruling.

  4. darryl853

    Just done it. I’m amazed they haven’t already spotted it, to be honest – or had this appear before now.

  5. Rob

    Yeah, you can block ads from certain domains quite easily in Google Adsense. It comes under “Competitive Ad Filter”, with the original thinking being that you’d use it to block adverts for rival companies, but you can use it to stop any sites/domains appearing.

  6. darryl853

    The ad’s still there – my e-mail is probably stacked up in a bank holiday backlog.