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Lib Dem MP takes ban on ‘upskirting’ to the verge of law

June 16, 2018 4:45 PM

A private member's Bill aimed at protecting an individual's dignity from intrusive photographs has been taken to the verge of becoming law by the Liberal Democrats, and would have completed its legislative passage but for an outrageous objection by a Conservative MP.

Liberal Democrat Wera Hobhouse, who was elected to the House of Commons last year, proposed a private member's Bill that would ban the practice of 'upskirting' - taking photos with a selfie stick under a person's skirt - and other forms of photography under a person's clothes without their permission.

Wera Hobhouse

Having gained cross-party support, the Bill looked set to pass into law, but was thwarted by a single Conservative MP with a history of obstructing compassionate measures. Despite this, the Bill is still expected to get through the Commons in the next few weeks.

The Conservative MP, Christopher Chope, used a parliamentary convention that allows a single MP to object to a private Bill on the grounds of insufficient time to consider it if it's being debated after 2.30pm on a Friday. Sir Christopher simply had to say 'Object' and the Bill was stopped, though it is expected to come back to the House early next month.

Wealden Lib Dems' parliamentary spokesperson Chris Bowers said: "Wera Hobhouse's Bill is very important. She has taken a really well-founded campaign by various activists, and turned it into a piece of parliamentary legislation that looks set to become law. It has become known as 'upskirting', but it would apply to all photos taken under someone's clothing without their permission, which is particularly important in an age dominated by social media.

"I met Christopher Chope when he was a junior transport minister in the early 1990s, and he was as unreconstructed then as he is now. I don't mind the odd maverick MP as they keep us intellectually on our toes, but this man has form in obstructing compassionate legislation - he blocked measures to scrap hospital parking charges for carers, to make revenge evictions an offence, and to increase penalties for those who attack police dogs. At the same time he has voted to strengthen MPs' privileges and demanded Twitter take down an account parodying him.

"His behaviour is a disgrace, and once again shows up the Conservative party to be the nasty party. Many Conservative MPs are embarrassed about his actions, yet the fact that Chope avoids party censure shows that he reflects the party's culture."