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'Tony's Law' on child cruelty - inspired by Kings Hill double-amputee Tony Hudgell - to be considered in Parliament

A proposed law calling for tougher sentences for child cruelty - inspired by a double-amputee from Kent - is to be introduced in Parliament today.

Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat has campaigned alongside the family of Kings Hill boy Tony Hudgell to introduce 'Tony's Law' in an effort to increase punishment for child abusers.

MP Tom Tugendhat talks about his hopes for 'Tony's Law'

Mr Tugendhat will today introduce an amendment to the government's Policing Bill which would give judges the discretion to impose life sentences in the very worst cases of child cruelty.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning, Tony's adoptive mother Paula Hudgell said she was delighted to have had so much support for their campaign to change the law.

"We are extremely passionate about this," she said. "Children are the most vulnerable in society and the sentences just don't reflect the seriousness of the crimes inflicted.

"In Tony's case the judge said it was the worst case he had ever seen and they were given the maximum sentence that a judge was allowed to give."

Mr Tugendhat said he hoped that this time he would be successful in changing the law.

He said: "This policing bill is exactly the right place to put this amendment.

"The government has said, quite rightly, that they want to make sentences fit the crime, that we have the stiffest sentences necessary for the worst crimes.

"There is, I think, every chance that we will get this through, because actually what we are trying to do is something very reasonable, which is to recognise that while Tony was too young to identify exactly who had struck the particular blows, could not see his birth parents charged with the appropriate crime, this will bring it into line to make sure that their responsibility is clear, even though a babe cannot give evidence."

Tony was left fighting for his life after suffering horrific abuse at the hands of his biological parents and his injuries were so severe that he lost both legs.

His abusers were each sentenced to 10 years in prison, the maximum sentence available, but Mr Tugendhat's proposed legislation would allow courts to hand down much harsher sentences in the very worst cases.

Tom Tugendhat speaks about 'Tony's Law' in the House of Commons

His amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill seeks to amend section five of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 in order to increase the maximum sentences for causing or allowing a child or vulnerable adult to suffer serious injury or death, to 14 years for the 'serious injury' offence and life for death.

"Tony’s law, as I shall refer to it throughout this debate, is not intended to help Tony," Mr Tugendhat told the House of Commons in September.

"His biological parents got the maximum sentence available at the time, and - thank God - he has now found the home that we all wish he had had to start with.

"I hope that this law will sit on the statute book and never be used, but it is the very least this House can do to recognise the extraordinary efforts of this inspirational young man.

"Tony’s law aims to send the message that we cannot and will not tolerate severe offences committed against the most vulnerable among us, that although they are not old enough to vote or stand for Parliament, still their life and safety matter as much as that of an adult."

Tony Hudgell is given a surprise custom-made car after heroic fundraiser

Mr Tugendhat first introduced his Child Cruelty (Sentences) Bill in 2019 but its progress was halted because of the general election.

Tony gained national fame during lockdown when, walking on prosthetic legs and inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore, he raised more than £1million for a London children's hospital which saved his life as a baby.

His efforts saw him awarded the Prime Minister's Points of Light Award, a prize which recognises outstanding efforts made by individual volunteers.

The youngster also received words of encouragement from former PM David Cameron, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and footballers from his favourite team, Chelsea.

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