Brothel raid sparks court action

An Auckland brothel tried to take out a restraining order against police after officers raided its premises and allegedly detained patrons with questions like "does your wife know you're here?"

Emily's 8 Gentleman's Club has since dropped the proceedings, but not before court documents were filed describing both sides of the February 19 raid.

Brothel manager Yun Ping Z hou said in an affidavit that police entered the premises under false pretences, claiming they were "private customers seeking services".

Police herded all the patrons into a room on the ground floor and made them sit on a couch, Zhou said.

Zhou said the interrogation of the patrons lasted about 1-1/2 hours and included questions like "whether their girlfriends or wives know they are frequenting such an establishment".

Police searched the brothel, including the ceiling spaces and the voids between walls. They allegedly "harassed" Zhou by asking if she earned money for sex and claiming that she employed 8, 12 and 14-year-old girls as sex workers.

Lawyers for Emily's said police looked for these "child sex slaves" in drawers and in the manager's purse "wherein not even the smallest human being in recorded history could have fit".

Police responded that they carried out the search after Immigration NZ was contacted with concerns about two Hong Kong women allegedly working illegally on the premises.

The women, known only by their working names GiGi and BiBi, were said to have had their passports withheld from them.

Detective Sergeant Andrew Saunders said in an affidavit that the informant said the women were not allowed to leave the premises, they had no control over their earnings and there had been "threats to their safety" should they go to police or Immigration.

"The informant told the employees ... that the owner of Emily's had threatened to tell the girls' families and the Hong Kong authorities that they had been working illegally in the New Zealand sex trade," Saunders said.

Immigration identified one of the two as a woman who arrived with a tour group on August 15, but left the tour group two days later.

Saunders said Emily's had been investigated in the past and "on a number of occasions, workers had been located hiding in wall cavities of the business".

A team of officers was dispatched to the brothel and three staff were "dropped at the rear of Emily's to discourage workers from exiting the premises via its windows".

Police jemmied an iron gate off its rollers to get inside after no-one would open the door for them.

Five females were located - one leaving by the fire exit and one hiding in a bedroom - and as a result three were issued Deportation Liability Notices by Immigration NZ.

Emily's filed a notice of discontinuance of their action.

The Crown has applied for costs.