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It’s not a selling point, it’s just something I’ve done that means something to me.’Karen Mooney, press officer for the Association of British Introduction Agencies (ABIA), said: ‘People should check before they sign up to any dating agency to make sure it is a member of ABIA, which has a strict code of practice.’ Ms Mooney, who founded Sara Eden Personal Introductions in 1988, said: ‘Companies love to boast that they can do matchmaking but a dating agency is a complicated business.
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Lisa Guennifa, associate director of Elect, said: ‘Alex was super-eager to be matched.
If you are 25 you can have two dates a week ,but when you are in your 40s with specific requirements it is more difficult.’Asked whether she accepted that while he may have paid another less upmarket agency a fee, that was not the same thing as having paid to join Elect, Ms Guennifa said: ‘We don’t judge people on their assets.’‘I don’t personally take credit for successful relationships between two people,’ she said.
In further emails, she found out that he had only been divorced for two months.
An internet search turned up the equally worrying fact that he had recently changed his name and that several of his companies had been fined.
The company, Elect Club, claimed to have the ‘largest private database of single professionals in London’, including business leaders and entrepreneurs.
On its website, it boasted of being ‘the number one dating agency in the UK’ with branches in several major cities.‘Elect Club is an exclusive social network for attractive, dynamic, eligible professionals looking for a serious relationship,’ it said.
‘I have messed up relationships myself and that wasn’t the fault of the friend who made the introduction.
Equally, if I am introduced to my partner by a friend I’m not going to be grateful to her for the rest of my life.’Ms Guennifa said she and other consultants had undertaken a four-month home course with a company whose name she could not recall – ‘it was called Infinite something’ – culminating in two weeks’ study at the London School of Economics, where they sat an examination.
Ms Fontaine, who was awarded an MBE in 2007 for her charitable work, is now being chased by a debt-collection agency for outstanding fees.