On the Conviction Trail (Press Gazette)

On the Conviction Trail
By Adrian Gatton
Press Gazette
15 April 2004

Uncovering Rhino’s secret was all too easy because of the ready availability of US prison records.

In 1999 US strip-club Spearmint Rhino stormed into London, hitting headlines almost every day as some celebrity was ‘caught’ in flagrante with a lap-dancer.

Amid all the excitement, nobody cared much about the club’s origins. Nor did they ask questions about the Los Angeles strip-club tycoon John Gray, who had shorn lap-dancing of its mafia-tainted image, and brought clean, ‘upscale’, all-look-and-no-touching nude clubs to the British. The club’s billboards became ubiquitous – even appearing in EastEnders and the film 28 Days – and ready to cash in, the credible Mr Gray issued a slick video for investors to help him open 100 clubs across the UK and float on the stock market.

Until Channel 4 News took an interest, that is. The steroid-pumped Spearmint Rhino stumbled in its tracks after a report revealed that Gray – billed as the Ray Kroc (McDonald’s founder) of the no-sex sex business – had been jailed by the FBI and had six criminal convictions. Things he didn’t mention to potential investors on that neat video …

This article was cited by New Zealand’s Law Commission in a 2006 consultation paper called Access to Court Records (New Zealand is now adopting a more sensible and much more open to approach towards public access to criminal court records.) Read it here. If only the English courts would adopt such a sensible approach.