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Liberal Democrats welcome new protections on revenge porn and cross-examination

March 14, 2021 8:31 PM

Liberal Democrats have welcomed the key protections being introduced today in the landmark Domestic Abuse Bill that would extend the crime of revenge porn to include threats to share intimate images, and widen the ban on cross-examination of survivors of domestic abuse in the civil courts.

Commenting on the amendment outlawing threats to share private sexual images, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse MP said: "Revenge porn is a despicable form of abuse. The number of people who have received threats from a partner or ex-partner to share intimate images is truly shocking, and the harm it can cause is appalling.

"The Liberal Democrats led the fight to outlaw revenge porn in 2015, and we argued then that the ban should include threats to share images.

"I'm glad we have finally been able to secure this change in the law, which will make a huge difference to the victims whose lives and mental health can be devastated by these threats."

Commenting on the extension of the ban on cross-examination, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson in the Lords Jonathan Marks said: "Court proceedings can be a distressing and frightening time for survivors of domestic abuse, and the idea that they should have to face their abuser in court is cruel and unfair.

"We welcome the Government amendments to protect domestic abuse victims, tabled following Liberal Democrat amendments at Committee Stage, that will include an automatic ban on the direct cross-examination of witnesses in person and the availability of special protections for witnesses and parties in certain civil cases."

Graham Colley, Liberal Democrats Police and Crime Commissioner candidate for Kent added: "The Liberal Democrats, agree with the philosophy propounded by John Stuart Mill - individuals should be allowed to do as they wish, provided it does not harm others.

Revenge porn is a clear example of how the freedom to publish can cause harm to others. Revenge is not freedom. It is hate and it causes harm. The threat of revenge porn is also cruel and harmful. The extension of the law is to be welcomed.

I therefore fully agree with Wera Hobhouse MP and Lord Jonathan Marks. I would go further and suggest that because of the instantaneous nature of social media, these websites should be required to remove such images immediately on the request of someone who believes they are a victim.

Often the websites fail to take down the image or do so slowly. A public agency should be empowered to act on behalf of and support victims, to award compensation, bring substantial civil fines against not just the website but also its owners and financial backers. For serious or persistent breaches, the agency should have the power to bring prosecutions in the criminal courts.

I also believe that the victims of this crime should have anonymity. To refuse anonymity makes the effect of the crime on the victim even worse.

LibDems believe in the freedom (and the protection) of the individual."