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East Ham Leisure Centre classes “empty” after arrests for spying on women

15:57 25 June 2013

East Ham Leisure Centre

East Ham Leisure Centre

Archant

A children’s karate class at East Ham Leisure Centre has seen a massive drop in attendance since it was revealed six men had been arrested for allegedly spying on naked women in its changing rooms.

The instructor of the martial arts class, former women’s world champion, Molly Samuel, claims parents have withdrawn youngsters from her classes, despite police reassurances that none of the alleged offences relate to children.

Ms Samuel, who also teaches adult classes, says those which she runs for children are now “practically empty.”

She said women were still attending, but choosing not to get changed in the premises in Barking Road.

She is angry that she found out about the arrests after a parent read about them in this newspaper.

The 52-year-old has taught at the centre for 10 years and says she has yet to be informed of the arrests by leisure centre managers.

The men were arrested on April 30 for offences relating to voyeurism under Section 67 of the Sexual Offences Act. It is believed personal mobiles and computers are being checked as part of the police enquiry.

Ms Samuel, who holds seven world champion titles, said: “Parents are really upset and worried, and I feel I have a duty of care to inform them of what has happened but I have not been able to.”

She says her attempts at getting more information from activeNewham, who run the centre, have failed despite raising her concerns to their head office two weeks ago.

Ms Samuel said: “I feel it is ‘unprofessional’ and disrespectful of the centre, which I otherwise think is good, not to inform its users.”

Five of the men arrested, all in their 20s, transferred to activeNewham from GLL which ran the centre until January. The sixth man is believed to be a former member of staff who did not transfer.

The alleged offences are thought to have taken place between December 1 and February 15.

The men were bailed to return to an east London police station later this month.

Both activeNewham and Newham Council refused to comment on a current police investigation.

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