Campaigners celebrate as government tables bill to tackle upskirting

Ministers tabled their own version of the Voyeurism (Offences) Bill, which will make it easier to prosecute perpetrators.

It began its progress to becoming law in the Commons on Thursday afternoon.

Sky News understands a second reading for the bill will take place at some point before the summer recess next month.

Prime minister Theresa May said: “Upskirting is a hideous invasion of privacy which leaves victims feeling degraded and distressed.

“I am proud that the Government has today introduced a Bill in the Commons which will make this a criminal offence.”

Campaigners celebrated the news, telling Sky News: “We’ve done it”.

Gina Martin, a 25-year-old freelance writer, began the push to make upskirting a specific criminal offence after having photographs taken of her underwear without her permission at a festival.

Ms Martin said she was “hurt and angry” after backbencher Sir Christopher Chope blocked a backbench bill to ban the practice.

But now that the government has adopted the bill, she said Sir Christopher’s intervention was simply a “bump in the road”.

Ms Martin told Sky News: “It feels weird to know I’ve changed the law. It’s all I’ve thought about for a year.

“I’ve dreamt about it, I’ve dreamt about that moment with Chris Chope for the past five days. It was my life.

“So the idea that it’s over, that we’ve done it, doesn’t compute yet.

“When it’s on the statute books and we can use it, then I’ll probably cry for about a week.”

Ms Martin’s campaign has had cross-party support in the Commons and was supported by the government.

But it was momentarily stopped in its tracks when Sir Christopher shouted “object” at a debate last Friday. Only one MP needed to do so to delay the legislation.

A massive backlash ensued, including strings of underwear being hung up outside the Christchurch MP’s constituency and Westminster offices.

He later defended his actions, saying he did support the legislation but that the way it was being introduced – not in government time – was worthy of the “Putin era”.


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