A lawyer for the UK government has been handed a 24-month community order after becoming the fourth person to be convicted of upskirting since new legislation criminalised the practice.

Upskirting, defined as the act of covertly filming or taking a picture under a person’s skirt without gaining their consent, was made a criminal offence in England and Wales in April.

The offence now carries a punishment of up to two years in custody under the Voyeurism Act and the most serious cases see wrongdoers placed on the sex offenders’ register.

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Daren Timson-Hunt appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday after the married father-of-one pleaded guilty last week to “operating equipment” beneath another individual’s clothing while at Embankment Tube station in central London at the beginning of July.

The charge said Timson-Hunt, a former senior lawyer at the Department for International Trade, used a mobile phone “for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification”.

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UK news in pictures

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UK news in pictures

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38/50 20 August 2019

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49/50 8 August 2019

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The 54-year-old, who yelled “leave me alone” at photographers as he arrived at court, was involved in Brexit negotiations as head of the EU Exit and Goods Legal team, the  reported.

Timson-Hunt, from Stanford Le Hope in Essex, has been ordered to join the Sex Offenders’ Register for five years. His community order requires completing a 35-day programme, 30 days of rehabilitation activity and 60 hours of unpaid work.

Last week Westminster Magistrates Court heard how the barrister waited at the bottom of a set of stairs until a woman climbed to the top of the steps before getting his mobile phone out.

Prosecutor Katie Bryan told the court on Thursday that Timson-Hunt’s victim, wearing a black and white “summery” dress, was en route to a job interview on the Circle and District line.

A witness in her Tube carriage, police inspector Pete Scottow, noticed Timson-Hunt, near to the victim “had his phone in between his legs with his thumb resting on the edge of the device”.

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Ms Bryan said Mr Scottow approached the victim saying, “Excuse me, I’m an inspector of Scotland Yard, I think this man has been taking pictures of you.”

The inspector confronted a “shocked” Timson-Hunt about his actions and he was later arrested.

Ms Bryan said an examination of Timson-Hunt’s phone exposed two videos had been captured of his victim – with the first video showing he had filmed “up her dress” and the prosecutor adding “you could see her underwear and naked buttocks from underneath the dress”.

In a statement read out to the court, the victim said: “I felt incredibly violated, I find it very intrusive that he could do this and it left me feeling extremely annoyed and made me lose focus for my interview.”

She said the incident had forced her to change her behaviour and she had not worn “any dress or skirt” since, which “considering the recent weather this has left me upset”.

The victim said she was scared the incident would happen again and now had reservations about using public transport.

Ms Bryan told the court Timson-Hunt had admitted what he had done, saying: “I’m sorry.”

He added: “I don’t know why I did it, I’ve never done anything like this before, is this something I can take a caution for?”

Gina Martin, a 27-year-old writer who spent 18 months fighting to make upskirting a specific offence after two men took a picture up her skirt at a festival in 2017, applauded Timson-Hunt’s sentencing.

“This case is a great reflection of exactly how our new law should be used,” she told The Independent. “Women’s bodies are not public property, and if you photograph someone without their consent there are a range of punishments that can be used. In this case, I think this is an appropriate punishment, and although I wish we didn’t have to use my new law, I’m so happy women are coming forward, using it and being supported.”

New figures released on Wednesday revealed four men have been convicted of upskirting since the new legislation was introduced. 

Salim Ahmed, a 33-year-old shop worker, was the first person to be prosecuted in early July. He was noticed by police over a two-hour period filming on his phone at the entrance to Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park in north London.

Some 16 recordings taken under women’s skirts or dresses were unearthed when his iPhone was confiscated.

Michael Adjetey, 28, was the second individual to be convicted after CCTV captured him taking photos of women’s bottoms at a TK Maxx store in Hackney in east London on two consecutive days in July. 

After being caught, he confessed he had taken hundreds of upskirting pictures. He was placed on the sex offenders’ register for five years and sentenced to a two-year community order.

Thomas Hetherington, 21, was the third individual to be successfully convicted after seeking out his upskirting victim at a bus depot in Wakefield back in July. He is the first offender whose victim confronted him and directly reported him to the police for the new offence.

Additional reporting by wires