Former UK government lawyer sentenced for ‘upskirting’ woman on Tube

Written by on September 27, 2019

By Emma Batha

LONDON, Sept 26 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A former British government lawyer was placed on the sex offenders’ register on Thursday after he admitted “upskirting” a woman on a London train in one of the first convictions under a new law to tackle the predatory crime.

Daren Timson-Hunt, 54, secretly filmed under the woman’s clothes as he sat next to her and then followed her off the train, filming her again as she walked upstairs at Embankment London Underground, or Tube, station.

Videos on his phone showed her legs, underwear and buttocks. Police also discovered a similar film of another woman taken in June, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard.

Timson-Hunt, a married father who was also a primary school governor until June, pleaded guilty last week to “operating equipment” beneath another’s clothing on July 1.

Magistrate Anne Boda told him his behaviour was “extremely unpleasant” as she sentenced him to a two-year community order, to include a rehabilitation programme for sex offenders and 60 hours unpaid work.

The woman had been on her way to a job interview when she was targeted, and was wearing a summer dress and heels.

“I felt incredibly violated … I felt as if I was stalked,” she said in a victim statement.

The woman said she was now worried about taking public transport and had stopped wearing dresses and skirts.

Upskirting – the surreptitious filming or taking of photographs under girls’ and women’s clothes – became a crime in April. The maximum sentence is two years in jail.

Britain’s Department for International Trade confirmed that Timson-Hunt had worked as a lawyer there until he quit in August, but declined to comment on a media report that he was involved in Brexit negotiations.

After police stopped him, Timson-Hunt said: “I do not know why I did it, I’m an idiot.” His lawyer said his career had been destroyed.

Siobhan Blake of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) described upskirting as a “repulsive offence”.

“Upskirting is a humiliating violation that leaves victims feeling degraded and distressed,” added Blake, the CPS lead for sexual offence prosecutions.

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

Several other countries, including France and Germany, have passed similar laws or are looking at doing so.

Police initially said Timson-Hunt’s conviction was the first under the legislation, but the CPS said on Thursday there had been several previous convictions.

These included a man who admitted taking hundreds of upskirting photos after he was caught on CCTV taking pictures of women’s buttocks in a London clothes shop. He was also given a community order and put on the sex offenders’ register.

(Reporting by Emma Batha @emmabatha; Editing by Katy Migiro. The Thomson Reuters Foundation)

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