Legal Update: Voyeurism Laws Clarified
Landmark ruling from the Court of Appeal determines that those who film their partner during sex without obtaining consent first are guilty of voyeurism.
This week the UK’s Court of Appeal was asked to decide whether or not sexual activity in a bedroom amounted to a ‘private act’. If so, then any participant in said activity filming their partner without consent was committing an offence. If not, then there was a right to film during sex, even if the other person did not know or consent to this.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Court ruled that even if a person had been invited into another’s bedroom for sex, this does not give them the right to film that same person without their consent. From this week, those who secretly film their partner during sex could be committing the offence of voyeurism, punishable by up to 2 years’ imprisonment.
The decision came after an unsuccessful appeal by a man previously convicted of voyeurism for secretly filming himself having sex with prostitutes. The women did not know they were being filmed and they did not give their permission for this. The man argued that because he was entitled to be in the bedroom with them for the purpose of consensual sex, he could not be guilty of voyeurism, as this offence could only be committed by someone watching who was not supposed to be there.
The Court firmly rejected this argument, making it clear that just because the man had been given permission to be present in the room and involved in the sexual activity, this did not mean he had permission to film what was happening for his own sexual gratification. It was clear that the women involved still had a reasonable expectation to privacy whilst having consensual sex and filming them without their knowledge was a breach of this.
Whilst the Crown Prosecution Service has previously decided not to prosecute cases where it was alleged that filming had taken place during sex without consent, a spokesperson has advised that they will now review their position. This could mean that people currently under investigation for such allegations may now find themselves being charged with voyeurism, whereas a matter of weeks ago they would not have been.
It’s therefore vital that those suspected or charged with voyeurism seek specialist advice as soon as possible. In addition to the risk of immediate imprisonment, a conviction for this offence can result in joining the Sex Offenders Register, which can have life-altering consequences. Our specialist solicitors are regularly instructed to represent clients in such cases and are fully aware of the newest developments to the law in this area.
If you have been arrested, invited to attend a voluntary police interview under caution, or have to attend court after being charged with a sexual offence, contact us to discuss the range of representation and assistance we can offer during this stressful and difficult time.