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Lords try shoehorning law against REVENGE SMUT into justice bill

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Two peers in the House of Lords have tabled an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill that will add criminal sanctions for so-called "revenge porn".

Lib Dem Baroness Olly Grender and Lord Jonathan Marks asked for a clause to be added to the bill, which is currently working its way through Parliament, that would hand out up to a year in prison to people who posted intimate images of others online without the subjects' consent.

The peers said that people charged under their proposed amendment would have had to believe, at the time the picture was taken, that the image was to remain private.

The amendment comes after Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling told Parliament yesterday that said that the government was open to having a “serious discussion” about law changes to criminalise "revenge porn". He said that MPs could take action as early as autumn, when they return from summer recess, if they can find the right solution to the problem.

Grayling was responding to a question from former Culture Secretary Maria Miller (Conservative), who called the posting of explicit images online without permission from the people depicted “an appalling crime”.

Miller said the law needed to change to ensure that anyone who posts "revenge porn" is “properly punished” and suggested that the current Criminal Justice and Courts Bill may offer the government the opportunity to do that.

Grayling said that it was clear that the issue of revenge porn was becoming a bigger problem in Blighty.

“The Government are very open to having a serious discussion, with a view to taking appropriate action in autumn if we can identify the best way of doing so,” he said.

Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert was among the first to call for action on revenge smut at the Commons debate on the Queen's Speech last month. Huppert said he was "shocked" to discover there was currently no sanction in place because it wasn't considered a crime.

"At the moment it is not a criminal offence to share the image because the photo was taken legitimately. Consent was given for the photo or the film, but not for it to be shared," he said.

"Typically, the problem is not covered under the harassment legislation, which requires something to have happened more than once, but once the image has been published online, it is broadcast forever more.

"It destroys people’s lives because of the psychological effect, the shame and the great humiliation caused when these images can be seen by anyone. The problem is getting worse, as Women’s Aid, the National Stalking Helpline, UK Safer Internet Centre and everybody increasingly accept." ®

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