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Britain’s Top Prosecutor Quits in Red-Light Scandal : Justice: Police report him for alleged ‘curb crawling'--cruising an area to solicit prostitutes.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The nation’s senior criminal prosector, Allan Green, resigned Thursday after police reported they saw him talking to prostitutes in a notorious red-light district in Central London Wednesday night.

“I bitterly regret what happened,” said Green, 56, the director of public prosecutions who until recently was on the Bar Council’s professional conduct committee and had been knighted earlier this year by Queen Elizabeth II.

Green was widely liked and respected throughout the profession in a difficult job, which he held since 1988. In his post, he was required to decide who would or would not be charged in criminal cases.

Atty. Gen. Patrick Mayhew said of Green: “This is a tragic event. I have deeply admired Sir Allan’s work and I’m deeply grateful for it. I accept his decision with great sadness. In resigning immediately, he has behaved in a most honorable way.”

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Judges, lawyers, and attendants at the Old Bailey Criminal Court and other judicial venues expressed amazement as news of Green’s resignation spread through legal circles Thursday morning.

The slight, graying, bespectacled official was reported by police for alleged “curb crawling"--the British term for those who cruise an area soliciting prostitutes--shortly before 11 p.m. in a seedy area behind London’s King’s Cross railroad station. “A report will be written and passed on to a senior officer in due course,” said the terse police statement on the matter. “The man was not arrested.”

But police sources said that Green, who earlier had attended a friend’s book-launching party at London’s literary Groucho Club, was seen getting out of his car and approaching prostitutes. Police stopped him and took his name.

Although the exact circumstances of his case remained officially unclear, it did underscore the effects of a 1985 law here that attempts to crack down on prostitution by prosecuting not only those who offer sex for sale but those who seek it, too.

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Under the “curb crawling” law, individuals commit an offense--punishable with fines or sometimes by the disgrace of having their crime publicized--if they solicit a prostitute from a vehicle or after leaving it. Usually it is up to a senior police officer to decide whether to press charges against suspects or to simply admonish them. Authorities have said the law has been an effective way to help neighborhoods protect themselves from the declines they can suffer when prostitutes ply their trade in an area.

Green had presided with calm and good humor over a criminal department undergoing continuing shock because of past, wrongful prosecutions, particularly of alleged Irish terrorists, associates said. Some convicted terrorists, who had received stiff sentences, turned out to be innocent; they were released from jail.

The plight of Green, who is married and has a son and a daughter, prompted widespread speculation in the British press and television about why he conducted himself as he did, placing himself so precariously in a well-policed haunt of prostitutes. One psychologist, Dr. Brian Thomas-Peter of the Reaside Clinic, said that judges, politicians and other public figures sometimes seek out sex in public places for no other reason than the thrill of their risky behavior.


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