THE Conservative MP at the centre of the upskirting controversy says he does support moves to criminalise it. In an exclusive interview with the Daily Echo on Sunday morning, Sir Christopher Chope admitted he had been battered and taken aback by the 'firestorm' since events in the Commons on Friday.

Sir Christopher who represents Christchurch, said he totally backed measures to make upskirting illegal, but not the way the government had gone about it. He said upskirting was "vulgar, humiliating and unacceptable."

He said: "I feel a bit sore about being scapegoated over this. The suggestion that I am some kind of pervert is a complete travesty of the truth. It's defamatory of my character and it's very depressing some of my colleagues have been perpetuating that in the past 48 hours."

Sir Christopher insisted he was not "a dinosaur' and fully intended to fight the next general election whenever it comes.

The 71-year-old MP, who marked 35 years in the Commons last week, triggered uproar and has been the subject of an unprecedented barrage of criticism since he blocked moves in Parliament to make the practice of upskirting a criminal offence.

He shouted 'object' to the measure set out in the Voyeurism (Offences) Bill in the Commons on Friday afternoon.

It was suggested that Sir Christopher did not even know what upskirting was, but simply objected in principle to the use of Private Members' Bills to pass laws - something which he has long campaigned against.

A number of other legislative measures were also blocked by the filibuster, including government backed plans to give police dogs and horses extra legal protection from attack and proposals for mental health reform.

But there was an immediate storm of protest on social media, among the Conservative membership and several of his Conservative colleagues moved to distance themselves from him.

Bournemouth East MP and defence minister, Tobias Ellwood, called Sir Christopher "an embarrassment" and urged him to apologise. He also branded him “a dinosaur”.

Prime Minister, Theresa May said: "Upskirting is an invasion of privacy which leaves victims feeling degraded and distressed. I am disappointed it didn't make progress in the Commons today and I want to see these measures pass through Parliament - with government support - soon."

Sir Christopher told the Echo he wanted to see the measure on the statute book in the fastest and surest way possible and would fully support it.

But he said he objected to the procedure on Friday because he does not agree with legislation being brought in with no debate at Second Reading.

"The government has been hijacking time that is rightfully that of backbenchers. This is about who controls the House of Commons on Fridays and that's where I am coming from. I actually support the Bills that were before the house. Four of the 26 Bills that fell at the same time were my own.

"But this is something I have fought for in most of my time as an MP and it goes to the very heart of the power balance between the government and Parliament. The government is abusing parliamentary time for its own ends and in a democracy this is not acceptable. The government cannot just bring in what it wants on the nod. We don't quite live in the Putin era yet."

Sir Christopher criticised some of his Conservative colleagues who "did not want to put their head above the parapet in sticking up for democracy. That is frightening."

He said he was taken aback by the reaction on Friday. "I spoke to Gina Martin, the lady who had been promoting the Bill as a victim herself, and she said she perfectly understood my reasons. We arranged to meet to discuss the matter further so I must admit I was surprised."

Sir Christopher admitted he had not looked in detail at the upskirting issue before Friday and had assumed the government was bringing its own legislation.

"My recommendation to the government is that to ensure the fastest, fairest and surest passage to the statute book for a Bill to outlaw upskirting, which I would wholeheartedly support, it introduces its own legislation without delay."

Sir Christopher has been the MP for Christchurch since 1997 and was knighted in the most recent New Year Honours.

He is an arch-Brexiteer, and fully paid-up member of the Libertarian Conservatives' right wing 'awkward squad' in Parliament. He is already unpopular with fellow Tory MPs in Dorset for being the lone parliamentary voice opposing the merger of Christchurch with Bournemouth and Poole.

He said Dorset MPs who had piled in with criticism on Friday - including Mr Ellwood, Conor Burns and Simon Hoare - were adding "local fuel to the firestorm" for their own reasons, including the merger issue.

"None of them phoned me up to ask me to explain my actions. Why would they want to humiliate one of their own colleagues? Hopefully when this does get into the statute book, they will accept I was right but maybe that's asking for the moon."

He said he had spoken to the government chief whip about the personal attacks which he believed were unacceptable.

Ironically, the judicial review into local government reform - which Sir Christopher has been instrumental in securing with anti-merger councillors in Christchurch - is to go before the courts this week.

The MP added: "I am not a dinosaur. I am very much alive and kicking. There are too few colleagues who are prepared to stand up for the rights of Parliament against the executive and that's when the freedoms we cherish will be eroded."

He said he believed he has the support of his constituents, pointing out he had the biggest majority of any Tory MP at the last election.