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Katie Price gives evidence to MPs about online abuse against her son

06 February 2018

The Petitions Committee is investigating online abuse and the experiences of disabled people after a petition started by Katie Price achieved more than 220,000 signatures.

Find out more

Watch Katie giving evidence

View transcript online or download pdf

Katie Price before Petitions Committee 2.20pm. Click on picture to watch

The Price petition  calls for online abuse to be a specific criminal offence and for a register of offenders to be created. The petition talks about the abuse Katie Price and her family has suffered, especially her disabled son.  

The Committee is looking into the following questions: 

  • What’s the impact of online abuse, especially on people with disabilities?
  • Who’s responsible for protecting people from online abuse? Are technology companies doing enough?
  • How well does the current law protect disabled people from online abuse? Does the law need to be changed? 
  • How should we define online abuse? Where’s the line between legitimate freedom of expression, behaviour that is against the terms and conditions of social media sites, and abuse that should be against the law? 
  • What support is there for victims of online abuse?

To help the Committee with its investigation, it heard from Katie Price about how online abuse has affected her family. It heard from disabled people, charities and other experts about what needs to change.

Katie Price gave evidence to the Committee on Tuesday 6 February at 2.30pm in Parliament, followed by representatives from disability charities and advocacy groups at 3pm.

The session will be transcribed afterwards.

Disability Rights UK ambassador and coordinator of the Disability Hate Crime Network, Stephen Brookes said:

“Online hate, where abusers mistakenly believe they are hidden behind a screen, can be particularly damaging. Several of the posts on the Disability Hate Crime Network reflect the fact that many disabled victims of on line and social media abuse feel helpless and unprotected. One of our regular contacts received a Facebook post after reporting a Hate Crime which said 'You never tire of being the nastiest dirtiest GRASS. If you need a puncture in your wheelchair keep us in mind'. But this was not enough to get Facebook to take the post down!

So, are the social media and tech communication companies doing enough to protect people from online abuse? Well in my view NO, even though On Line hubs are in place. We are told that a key aim of the Online Hate Crime Hub is to build a stronger evidence base and better understanding of the scope, nature and scale of online hate, in order to tackle it, but this all takes time, and so many times the perpetrators use the indistinct line between what they say is legitimate freedom of expression, and behaviour that is in contradiction of the ill-defined terms and conditions of social media sites, to get away with their actions. So, there is a need to force companies to have a standard code of practice and not the current case by case approach, and this does need to lead to a better clear and enforceable law.

As to a register of perpetrators, this is a different situation, because I can’t see how would it be operated and maintained given the general false name posting process on social media, and frankly if a matter committed is charged as an offence then any action or court case would see the perpetrator sentenced and surely the criminal record should preclude any further activity. So, if the legislation is tightened up it would be rather an overkill. The other danger could be that it would be rather like the sex offence register - one step away from a full sentence and an option for courts to use it as such.”

After the Committee has heard from different people, it will decide if it wants to make recommendations to the Government to take action. If it does, this is usually done in an official Committee report.

After the Committee’s investigation, it will schedule a debate in Parliament on this petition. All of its work, including all of the evidence it heard, will be used to inform the debate.