PM ‘disappointed’ after Tory blocks upskirting law


The prime minister says she is “disappointed” after a proposed law to make upskirting a specific criminal offence was blocked by a Tory MP.

The Voyeurism (Offences) Bill was stopped in its tracks when Christchurch MP Sir Christopher Chope objected to it being given a second reading in parliament.

The bill, which was proposed by Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse and supported by ministers, was expected to get the nod through the Commons on Friday.

After it was blocked, Theresa May said: “Upskirting is an invasion of privacy which leaves victims feeling degraded and distressed.

“I am disappointed the bill didn’t make progress in the Commons today, and I want to see these measures pass through Parliament – with government support – soon.”

:: Who is the MP who blocked the upskirting law?

Tory MP Sir Christopher Chope
Image: Tory MP Sir Christopher Chope blocked the bill’s progress

One minister told Sky News that No 10 was going to “get upskirting sorted” and said they hoped the government would get the legislation passed before the house rises for Summer recess in mid-July.

“We’re not having this unpicked by one maverick who stayed too long.”

A government source said ministers had a number of options to get the upskirting laws on the statue book. No 10 could push it through in a number of ways from tabling its own bill to pushing it through as a backbench bill with government support.

“The message from government is clear: we will do what it takes to get this measure to debate and through its Commons stages as quickly as possible.”

Blocking its progress only requires one MP to shout “object” when the title of a private member’s bill is read out.

Sir Christopher is on the libertarian right of Conservative Party and is understood to regard many private members’ bills as politically correct expressions of the nanny state.

Minister for women Victoria Atkins and Tory MP Will Quince were among those who cried “shame” after his intervention.

The bill will be debated next on 6 July, but will only take one dissenting voice to put another stop to its progress.

Ms Hobhouse told Sky News it was a “petty thing to do”.

EDITORIAL USE ONLY Victoria Atkins MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability and Minister for Women, speaks at the launch of Bright Sky, an app that has been created by the Vodafone Foundation and Hestia to help people affected by domestic abuse, at the Science Museum in London.
Image: Women’s minister Victoria Atkins said ‘shame’ when the bill was blocked

“I think it’s very frustrating and annoying that one MP can block a consensus that had been built over several months,” she said.

“It’s really annoying we couldn’t make progress.”

She added that “every month matters”, pointing out festival season was approaching.

Dawn Butler, Labour’s shadow minister for women and equalities, said: “It’s absolutely disgusting that a male Tory MP has blocked upskirting from becoming a criminal offence.

“If Theresa May is serious about tackling this vile practice, and injustices like sexism, she will need to show leadership and show there’s no place in the Tory Party for Christopher Chope.”

Justice Secretary David Gauke tweeted: “The Government supported today’s Bill on ‘up-skirting’. Disappointed that no progress today – the law needs to be reformed. But it will be.”

Upskirting victim Gina Martin, 26, launched the campaign after two men took a picture up her skirt while at a festival in 2017.

Minister for women is amazed by colleague's objection to bill to criminalise upskirting 0:30
Video: MP amazed by upskirting objection

In a statement, Ms Martin admitted she knew Sir Christopher’s scepticism was a “risk” but that “I’m positive and hopeful that he will become a supporter”.

Reacting to Sir Christoper scuppering the bill, justice minister Lucy Frazer said the government “has every expectation” upskirting will eventually become a criminal offence.

A government spokesman echoed this, saying: “Whilst we are disappointed this Bill did not pass second reading today, we look forward to supporting these measures through the House at the earliest possible opportunity.”

Victims of upskirting have been found to be as young as 10 years old.

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Currently, victims in England and Wales are forced to seek prosecution through other legal avenues, such as outraging public decency or harassment.

A specific law against upskirting already exists in Scotland.

From – SkyNews


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