Wera Hobhouse hails progress of bill to stop “vile” upskirting

Last night the bill aimed at stoping upskirting passed its final Commons stage and now goes to the Lords. Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, who initiated the legislation back in February. It then looked like it was going to fall after Christchurch MP Christopher Chope objected to it. The Government then took it on board so that it would be debated and become law.

Wera said:

I want this Bill to stop the vile practice of ‘upskirting’. It should be a successful tool for prosecution, but it should also act as a deterrent. Zero tolerance, no loopholes.

This Bill has not only highlighted and sought to rectify a gap in the law, but resulted in further parliamentary debate. Debate on serious issues around non-consensual distribution of pornographic images and the production of deep fakes enabled by new technology.

I look forward to working hard on these issues. Liberal Democrats continue to campaign to make sure the law protects victims of all sexually motivated malicious behaviour in this country.

In the Commons she praised the way people had worked together across party to get the legislation through:

From the very beginning of its journey, the upskirting Bill has been the result of brave individuals —particularly women—speaking out. They chose to speak out about a vile crime that was going not only unpunished but largely unnoticed. They courageously spoke out about their experiences, to try to draw attention to the gap in the law. The Bill is the result of their hard work, and each and every individual who helped this campaign to materialise into the legislation before us should feel proud.

It was back in February that I drafted the Bill, in time for International Women’s Day. As a female Member of Parliament, I felt bound to try to honour the day with a real change that would improve the lives of women across the country. It shocked me that upskirting was not already a specific crime. There was a victim from near my constituency of Bath who was just 10 years old, and it was clearer than ever that something had to be done. I spoke to victims and campaigners, notably Gina Martin, and together with her lawyer, Ryan Whelan, we put together a Bill that would ensure that taking a photo up someone’s skirt without their consent would become a specific sexual offence.​
I am incredibly grateful for the work of my colleagues across the House. In particular, I would like to thank the Minister for Women, the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for Louth and Horncastle (Victoria Atkins), as well as the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, the hon. and learned Member for South East Cambridgeshire (Lucy Frazer) and the Prime Minister herself, all of whom have been supportive throughout the Bill’s passage, from agreeing to back my original Bill to tabling another version when mine was blocked in June. Equally, I am grateful to the many Members who have supported and worked on the Bill, particularly the right hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mrs Miller) and the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy). To have the Bill supported by five parties and the Government—as well as my own colleagues, of course—demonstrates not only how import this issue is but what can be achieved when we work together.

There are many unnamed and unsung heroes in this place. By this I mean our staff who support us, and I want to put on record my particular thanks to my parliamentary assistant, Jess Clayton. Without her passion, her enthusiasm, her thoroughness—at one point, she knew a lot more about upskirting than I did—and her help and support, we would not be here today. So I thank Jess Clayton, my parliamentary assistant. Primarily, though, the Bill is a credit to all those who are seen as everyday ordinary women who have achieved something extraordinary. By campaigning, by pressuring those in power and by protesting—with pants!—when the campaign faced adversity, they have ensured that upskirting will become what it deserves to be: a specific sexual offence.

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  • Richard Underhill 25th Nov '18 - 5:22pm

    The Sunday Times 25/11/2018 page 8 columns 1-4 states that “Sir” Christopher Chope objected to a bill intended to help prevent female genital mutilation (FGM). This is one of the achievements of the coalition. I advised the Minister for Crime Prevention that a definition of torture had been provided to the Commons by Anne Widdecombe MP and her equivalent in the Lords.
    FGM meets the definition of torture, which PM David Cameron triumphantly told the Commons at PMQ.
    This is much more serious than up-skirting.
    If Christopher Chope is in favour of torture he should consider resigning the whip and announcing whether he intends to stand again to be an MP.
    Others might consider whether he needs a knighthood.

  • Richard Underhill 16th Jan '19 - 10:16am

    The BBC is reporting that the bill has been approved by the House of Lords and awaits Royal Assent.
    Prison reformers want to abolish custodial sentences of up to 6 months, one of whom is the minister, Rory Stewart. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rory_Stewart.
    The maximum sentence is longer than that so actual cases are awaited in England and Wales. What is the Scottish experience?
    Imagine Serena Williams is wearing a short skirt (new style this year) and falls over on court (as has happened) with lots of professional snappers watching her every move.

  • Richard Underhill 11th Feb '19 - 10:07am

    The BBC is reporting that Christopher Chope is at it again, this time against legislation on FGM. PM David Cameron accepted that FGM is torture and said so in the Commons. Government time is appropriate.
    Perhaps Chope’s local party could keep him in the constituency on Fridays. Maybe some local constituents would like to meet him face to face. Maybe some of them would have views on the retention of his knighthood.

  • Richard Underhill 12th Apr '19 - 9:00am

    Upskirting is now a criminal offence in England and Wales, punishable by up to two years in prison. It is already a specific offence in Scotland.

  • Richard Underhill 22nd May '19 - 3:45pm

    Attendance by government MPs for PMQs on 22/5/2019 was thin, as evidenced by live tv pictures of the green benches.
    This was followed by a thinly attended statement by Theresa May on a potential bill which was mooted outside the House yesterday. It is under “purdah” until after the elections on Thursday and may be published after the coming recess.
    An urgent statement was taken on steel, insolvency and the Official Receiver.
    A ten minute rule bin was then taken without an objection from any one of the usual awkward squad.
    At 15.40 the adjournment of the House was moved. Chris Davies, Brecon and Radnorshire, spoke about potential suicides among farmers, an issue which has also been covered by BBC tv Countryfile on Sundays.

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