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Bill to make upskirting an offence blocked after Tory MP shouts 'object'

Other MPs were heard shouting “shame” after Christopher Chope’s interjection.

Christopher Chope
Christopher Chope
Image: PA

A BID TO make upskirting a criminal offence in England and Wales has been blocked after a Tory MP objected to allowing the planned legislation to proceed.

It had been expected the practice of secretly taking sexually intrusive photos would be made an offence punishable by up to two years in prison.

Justice Minister Lucy Frazer earlier backed the private members bill from Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse, describing the behaviour as a “hideous invasion of privacy which leaves victims feeling degraded and distressed”.

It was due to be given a second reading in Parliament, but that progress was halted after Sir Christopher Chope shouted “object”.

According to the BBC, Westminster rules mean that it’s only necessary for one MP to shout their objection in order to block a bill’s progress.

Parliament footage shows other MPs shouting “shame” after the Conservative’s interjection. Hobhouse said later that she was very angry at how things had played out but that it was “not the end of the road”.

The Guardian reported that such behaviour was currently dealt with under other legislation but that this doesn’t cover all instances of upskirting.

Campaigner Gina Martin sparked the effort for the practice to be criminalised after police declined to prosecute a man who she said had taken pictures of her at a festival. As she was wearing underwear the photo was not deemed illegal.

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Tweet by @Gina Martin Source: Gina Martin/Twitter

In a statement this afternoon she said she was “extremely upset and disappointed”.

We knew this was a risk, but I now stand with powerful, passionate women and men behind me and am confident that [the justice minister] Lucy Frazer is committed to – and will – close this gap in law.

She said that Christopher Chope had agreed to meet with her.

The single objection rule, apparently, only applies on Friday afternoons. The Independent reports that after 2.30pm on a Friday just a single objection can halt a bill’s progress.

About the author:

Daragh Brophy

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