How the upskirting debate has shown MP Christopher Chope should have no place in the House of Commons
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On Friday afternoon, Conservative MP Sir Christopher Chope blocked a bill in the House of Commons which sought to close an existing legal loophole and make the practice of upskirting illegal. Recently there has been increasing attention on the issue of upskirting, in which photos are taken up an individual’s skirt without their permission. Gina Martin, the campaigner who inspired the bill, experienced this first hand when a stranger allegedly took photographs up her skirt at a music festival. However, because the act is not technically illegal police were unable to prosecute the offender. It was this incident, alongside Miss Martin’s subsequent campaign which inspired MP Wera Hobhouse to raise the bill, which was given its second reading in the House of Commons on Friday afternoon. Although it was announced prior to the reading that it was formally being backed by the government, Conservative MP Sir Christoper Chope shouted "object", thus blocking the bill from going any further as per the rules of the Commons. Following public outcry at his actions, the MP has been forced to defend himself, claiming he didn't actually know what upskirting was when he objected, and as such was not endorsing the practice. Instead, according to his later statement, his objection was to the way the bill had been raised. Bills can either be suggested by the government or by individual MPs, with the latter being known as private member's bills. The voyeurism bill, the official name of the attempt to make upskirting illegal, was initially raised by MP Wera Hobhouse, and as such was a private members bill, even though it later gained government backing. However, this defence is problematic for two key reasons. Firstly, his defence is based on the fact that the voyerism bill was raised by a single MP rather than the government as a whole.
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