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Directors of online sperm website on trial

13 September 2010
Appeared in BioNews 575

Two men in the UK have been prosecuted for allegedly offering sperm for sale over the Internet, according to BBC News. Ricky Gage, 49, and Nigel Woodforth, 42, both from Reading, are facing two charges brought under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 for operating a website known as Fertility 1st without a licence.

The prosecution at South Crown Court outlined how the pair used the website, also known as Sperm Direct Limited and First4Fertility, to introduce potential sperm donors to fertility patients who paid a 80 GBP joining fee, 300 GBP to use the service and 150 GBP per delivery of sperm. Women would gain access to a database of anonymous sperm donors and the sperm would be delivered by courier to their door.

In what is believed to be the first prosecution of its kind under the Act, the defendants face two counts of illegally procuring sperm. Under the Act, the procurement, testing and distribution of gametes, including sperm, intended for human use is prohibited without a licence from the fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). The men argue the website merely introduced fertility patients to sperm donors and acted as an information database. The prosecution allege, however, that their activity does amount to procurement under the law.

Last January, the fertility journal The Obstetrician and Gynaecologist warned of websites offering 'e-semination' services operating outside the HFEA's regulations. Dr Allan Pacey said to the Telegraph at the time that such services cannot guarantee the sperm is infection free. The law is also unclear on the status of fathers who choose to donate to online services operating outside of the UK's regulatory controls. They may find themselves the legal father of any children born using their sperm and run the risk of being pursued for child support payments, Dr Pacey told BioNews.

Mr Gage and Mr Woodforth have run into trouble with the regulator before - in 2009 - when both men faced criminal prosecution for operating services for the sale of 'fresh' sperm without a licence.

The present case continues.

'Illegal sperm donor operation made £250,000'
The Telegraph |  13 September 2010
Illegal sperm donor pair 'made £250,000 from web service'
The Metro |  13 September 2010
Reading men made 250000 GBP from sperm website
BBC News |  13 September 2010
12 December 2011 - by Dr Nadeem Shaikh 
A man in the United States is reportedly being investigated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after offering his sperm for donation. Trent Arsenault, a 36 year-old computer security expert from California, has set up a website offering his sperm without charge to anyone who wishes to use it to have a baby....
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18 October 2010 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
Two men convicted of providing sperm over the internet without a licence have escaped a custodial sentence...
20 September 2010 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
Two men prosecuted for illegally providing fresh sperm over the internet have been convicted at Southwark Crown Court. Ricky Gage, 49, and Nigel Woodforth, 43, operated a website called Fertility 1st through which fertility patients could select from a database of sperm donors and order 'fresh' sperm to be directly delivered, for a fee, to their door....
28 June 2010 - by Kyrillos Georgiadis 
A controversial dating website that only allows 'beautiful people' to join has launched a sperm and egg bank so that people can have 'beautiful children'...
25 January 2010 - by Dr Vivienne Raper 
Websites have sprung up offering fresh sperm delivered to your door for DIY insemination by UK women, according to an article in The Obstetrician and Gynaecologist (TOG). UK sperm donor shortages are blamed for creating a market for these 'e-semination' services, which have unclear legal status and are not covered by Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) regulations....
8 June 2009 - by MacKenna Roberts 
Last Friday, UK authorities began a legal test case to prosecute two businessmen who were arrested for not having a valid licence to broker the sale of 'fresh' sperm from anonymous donors. The sperm was provided to women for their use in DIY fertility treatments through an online business - Nigel Woodforth and Ricky Gage, the directors of the business, face up to two years imprisonment if found guilty of illegally running a website that is reportedly believed to have matche...
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