Theresa May declines to condemn MP for blocking upskirting bill

Geraldine Edwards
June 18, 2018

The highly intrusive practice - colloquially known as "upskirting" - typically involves offenders taking a picture under a person's clothing without them knowing, with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks. "We're going to take the bill that was blocked, the legislation that was blocked, and we're going to put it through in government time", May said.

David Gauke, the Justice Secretary who collaborated with Ms Martin over her campaign, echoed the dismay within the Conservatives.

"The government has been hijacking time that is rightfully that of backbenchers". Disappointed that no progress today - the law needs to be reformed.

Some lawmakers who supported the measure shouted "shame" after Christopher Chope single-handedly thwarted the proposal simply by shouting "Object!"

The MP for Christchurch, Dorset, claimed he objected to the Voyeurism (Offences) Bill because he doesn't agree with legislation being brought in with no debate at Second Reading.

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Moments after blocking the upskirting Bill, Sir Christopher also opposed Finn's Law, Government-backed plans to give police dogs and horses extra legal protections from attack, and also talked out attempts to reform mental health units.

She is due to meet Sir Christopher this week.

However, it only takes one MP to shout "objection" in Parliament to halt a bill's progress.

In an interview with the Guardian, she said the police told her: "We've looked at the photo; it shows more than you'd want it to show but you're not going to hear much from us".

Clare McGlynn, professor of law at Durham University and an expert on sexual violence, said: "The criminalisation of upskirting announced on Friday is a welcome first step towards a more comprehensive law protecting victims of all forms of image-based sexual abuse, which also includes so-called revenge porn".

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"In order to keep children and young people safe from harm we must teach them at the earliest opportunity to respect each other's privacy, to know their rights, and to understand issues around consent, coercion, and unwanted/unsafe touch".

She has asked for her bill to return to the House on 6 July.

The UK is not the only country to see a concerted campaign on upskirting.

Labour has supported this campaign from the start, it's time for the Government to bring legislation and not rely on private members' Bills, which their own MPs have undermined. It has become common with the spread of smartphones, with embarrassing photos often posted online.

In Scotland, upskirting is already illegal.

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