Theresa May ‘disappointed’ as Tory MP blocks moves to make ‘upskirting’ illegal
Theresa May has expressed her disappointment after a backbench Conservative MP blocked moves to make upskirting a criminal offence.
MPs were left incredulous as Sir Christopher Chope talked out a government-backed private member’s bill in the Commons yesterday afternoon.
The Prime Minister said she wanted legislation to amend the law to be brought to Parliament soon, as she lamented the intervention from her backbencher in a post on Twitter.
“Upskirting is an invasion of privacy which leaves victims feeling degraded and distressed,” she said.
“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.”
The backlash was swift to Mr Chope’s intervention, with fellow Conservative MP Nick Boles tweeting that his colleague was a politician “whose knuckles dragged along the ground”.
Other MPs also voiced their dismay.
A Lib Dem source meanwhile told PoliticsHome the backbencher was a “d***”.
Minister for Women Victoria Atkins said the Government would allow time for the bill in parliament, amid fears the legislation could get pushed down the pecking order.
Lib Dem backbencher Wera Hobhouse had secured support from ministers for her private member's bill aiming to beef up existing laws and make it a specific, jailable offence to take the covert snaps of unsuspecting victims.
Speaking after the bill's blocking, Ms Hobhouse branded Mr Chope's intervention "shameful" and "annoying".
The Lib Dem MP fumed: "This change would have protected women and girls across England and Wales and given the police the tools to bring the perpetrators to justice. This is too important to allow people like Christopher Chope to obstruct progress on this vital issue."
Culture Secretary Matt Hancock said: "The Government is determined to make it illegal to photograph people under their clothes without consent. Individual MPs can delay, but not prevent this from becoming law. We will make it happen."
Shadow Equalities Minister Dawn Butler said Mr Chope’s actions were "absolutely disgusting".
"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," she said.
Campaigner Gina Morris, a victim of upskirting who has been working with Ms Hobhouse to make the bill law, said she was "extremely upset" that Mr Chope had blocked the bill - although she revealed that he had agreed to meet her and her lawyer to discuss the row.
"I'm positive and hopeful that he will become a supporter," she added.
Mr Chope has yet to comment on the backlash. Ms Morris claimed he told her he objected to the bill "on principle" because it "wasn't debated".