September 23, 2019 / 1:56 PM / a month ago

British government lawyer first to be convicted under new upskirting law

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A British government lawyer has become the first person to be convicted of upskirting under a law introduced this year to tackle the predatory crime, police confirmed on Monday.

Daren Timson-Hunt, 54, faces sentencing on Thursday after pleading guilty last week to “operating equipment” beneath another person’s clothing at an underground train station in London on July 1.

Upskirting - the surreptitious filming or taking of photographs under girls’ and women’s clothes - became a crime in April under the Voyeurism (Offences) Act 2019.

The maximum penalty is two years in prison. In the most serious cases those convicted may be placed on the sex offenders register.

Pending sentencing, Westminster Magistrates’ Court barred Timson-Hunt from traveling on London’s underground train network except for a medical or solicitor’s appointment, court hearing or job interview.

He was also banned from carrying a device capable of recording an image in a public place.

Britain’s Department for International Trade confirmed on Monday that Timson-Hunt had worked as a government lawyer until he resigned in August.

The department could not confirm a media report in the New Statesmen that he was involved in Brexit negotiations as head of the EU Exit and Goods Legal team.

Timson-Hunt had also served as a governor at a primary school in Essex, east of London. The school confirmed he had resigned in June.

British Transport Police (BTP) told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that the conviction was the first in England and Wales under the new legislation. Scotland has a separate law.

Detective Inspector David Udomhiaye, head of BTP’s sexual offences unit, said it represented a big step “in clamping down on this invasive and disgusting form of sexual offending”.

“We hope this helps us in sending a very strong message that sexual offending, including upskirting, will never be tolerated on the rail network.”

The new legislation followed a campaign spearheaded by activist Gina Martin who was astonished to find there was no specific law against upskirting after she was targeted at a festival in 2017.

Reporting by Emma Batha @emmabatha; Editing by Claire Cozens. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org

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