Voyeurism: additional offences

Part of Voyeurism (Offences) (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:45 am on 12th July 2018.

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Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Conservative, Cheltenham 11:45 am, 12th July 2018

I rise briefly to oppose the amendments, although I recognise that they have validity and force. I am not suggesting that they are misconceived, but, on balance, the Committee should vote against if necessary, and I will explain why.

The first point is one that has already been made. We should not lose sight of the fact that almost everyone who has spoken about these matters recognises that the overwhelming majority of offending would comfortably have been caught. Although a point has been made about the Director of Public Prosecutions, it is worth considering precisely what she said in paragraph 2.6 of her written evidence:

“The Bill introduces purposes for which such activities are committed. We anticipate that most offending will fall comfortably within these categories.”

That is important—it is worth underscoring the point—because while one can imagine some individuals in court saying, “This was just for fun, wasn’t it? We were having a good time and it was just larks,” or equally a journalist saying, “My motivation was to get money,” it is always open to the Crown to say that that was a subordinate motivation that comes within the scope of the Bill. Therefore, it will be vanishingly rare, I suggest, for any defendant credibly to argue—with emphasis on the word “credibly”—that no part of his or her motivation fell within the scope of the Bill.

It is also worth considering the representations that were made in a wider context. Ryan Whelan, the lawyer representing Gina Martin, said in written evidence:

“However, most if not all of these cases”— referring to other suggested motives—

“can be caught by the Bill as it stands. There is no requirement that the prohibited motive be the only motive and the offender who acts to humiliate, distress or alarm the victim is not somehow given a defence because he does those things for financial gain, a laugh or to exert power.”

The point I want to make is that, often, in life and with respect to the Bill, people do stupid and illegal things for a blend of motives. It is no good them standing in court and saying, “My primary motive is not within the Act. Therefore, I should walk out of this court scot free,” because most juries would give that short shrift.