Brothel keeper Cynthia Payne dies

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Cynthia Payne, the brothel madam whose life was immortalised in film in the 1980s, has died at the age of 82, her family has said.

Mrs Payne hit the headlines when police raided her home during a sex party involving elderly men in 1978.

She served time in prison after a 1980 trial. At a further trial in 1987, she was cleared of controlling prostitutes at her home in south west London.

Her life was depicted in film in Personal Services with Julie Walters.

The book An English Madam by Paul Bailey told the story of her life. The 1987 comedy drama Wish You Were Here was also loosely based on her story.

Mrs Payne stood for Parliament twice, but failed to win 1% of the vote.

'Big heart'

Family friend Kevin Horkin described her as "a national treasure" and an "extremely colourful archetypal English eccentric".

Mr Horkin added: "She was a person with a very big heart. She is someone who epitomised the phrase 'what you saw is what you got'."

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A biography on her website reads: "I hit the headlines in 1978 when the police raided my home along a pleasant tree-lined avenue in suburban Streatham, interrupting a sex party that was in full swing.

"For months afterwards, the media would write of queues of middle aged and elderly men waiting to exchange their 'luncheon vouchers' for food, drink, friendly chat, striptease shows, and a trip upstairs with the girl of their choce [sic].

"Vicars, MPs and lawyers were amongst those who considered me to be the best hostess in London."

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image captionJulie Walters, who starred in personal services, and Mrs Payne

Her second trial, in 1987, came after a party to mark the end of film production on Personal Services.

After the 13-day trial she reportedly sent the judge a copy of An English Madam with the inscription: "I hope this book will broaden your rather sheltered life."

She went on to write a book called 'Entertaining at Home', with tips for hosting parties and dealing with the police.

In 1988, she stood in the Kensington by-election for the Rainbow Alliance and attracted 193 votes.

At the 1992 general election, she stood in Streatham where she won 145 votes.

Her three-week run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival sold out in 1992.