Human trafficking charges dropped against London escort agency owners

Human trafficking charges were dropped Wednesday against the owners of a London escort agency whose case is testing the constitutionality of Canada's prostitution laws.

Lawyers are challenging the remaining three charges against the pair as unconstitutional

Tiffany Harvey and Hamad Anwar leave a London, Ont. courtroom on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)

Human trafficking charges were dropped Wednesday against the owners of a London escort agency whose case is testing the constitutionality of Canada's prostitution laws. 

Hamad Anwar and Tiffany Harvey were charged in November 2015 with more than two dozen charges each after their business, Fantasy World Escorts, was shut down by London police. 

In court Wednesday, lawyers agreed to withdraw most of those charges, leaving only the ones that deal with procuring, advertising and materially benefiting from someone else's sexual services. 

That leaves Harvey facing one charge of materially benefiting from the sale of someone's sexual services, and Anwar with the same charge, as well as an additional charge of procuring and advertising someone else's sexual services. 

Defence makes case

Those three offences are relatively new, brought in under Canada's 2014 prostitution law, Bill C-36, which criminalize the buying of sex but decriminalizes its sale. 

Led by Toronto lawyer James Lockyer, the defence has put forward a motion to argue the constitutionality of those charges, saying it violates sex workers' right to the security of person. 

Lockyer has called two witnesses, both academics, whose studies he says have shown that the new law which prohibits advertising someone else's sexual services and penalizes websites that host those advertisements, forces the sex trade underground. 

On Thursday, the Crown is expected to call its witnesses, who will testify in support of the Nordic Model, on which Canada's laws are based.