Tony Hudgell: Child abuse victim could have law named after him

ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent explains Tony's story and the campaign to get the law introduced

A proposed law calling for tougher sentences for child cruelty is to be introduced in Parliament today.

Named 'Tony's Law' after double-amputee Tony Hudgell who was abused by his parents, the law would increase the punishment for child abusers to a maximum of life in prison.

Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat, who has campaigned alongside the family of Tony to introduce the law, said: "Brutalised by his birth parents before he was two months old, they only got 10 years, which is less than for harming an adult. That’s wrong. We need change."

Tony's adoptive mother Paula Hudgell on her campaign

Speaking to ITV Lunchtime News, Tony's adoptive mother Paula Hudgell said: "Our whole system failed Tony.

"It did also fail Tony the fact that the case wouldn't have gone to court if it hadn't of been for myself and Tom Tugendhat pushing for a turnaround with the CPS.

"We are now pushing for 14 years if a child survives and a life sentence if the child dies."

  • Who is Tony Hudgell?

Tony, aged six, had a difficult start in life. He was so badly beaten at just a few weeks old that he suffered multiple fractures, dislocations and even sepsis. He is also deaf in his right ear.

Tony Hudgell walked 10km on his prosthetic legs last year. Credit: PA

In 2017, Tony needed to have both legs amputated owing to his extreme injuries.

His birth parents, Tony Smith and Jody Simpson, received a 10 year sentence. Young Tony now lives with his adoptive parents Paula and Mark Hudgell in Kent.

Inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore, Tony set his own challenge in 2020 to walk 10km on his prosthetic legs and raised over £1.5m for charity.

  • What is Tony's campaign?

Tony's abusers were each sentenced to the maximum sentence available of ten years. They will be eligible for early release in September 2022 after serving half their sentence.

In 2018, Tony's family began their campaign to increase the maximum sentence handed down to those who are convicted of child cruelty.

Tony with his adoptive parents Paula and Mark. Credit: PA

Their online petition reached 10,000 signatures and in September 2020, Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat urged the Government to introduce a bill for 'Tony's Law' that would amend the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, in section five of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004.

The law would see the maximum sentence upped to life in prison and would increase the sentence for the serious injury offence to 14 years, it is currently 10 years.

Speaking to the House of Commons Commons in September, Mr Hugendhat said: "Tony's law, as I shall refer to it throughout this debate, is not intended to help Tony.

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

MP Tom Hugendhat has campaigned alongside Tony's family to introduce 'Tony's Law.' Credit: PA

"It is an extremely important piece of legislation which seeks to bring sentencing for child cruelty offences in line with the equivalent sentence, should the crime be committed against an adult.

"Unlike his birth parents, Tony got a life sentence." 

  • What happens next?

Mr Tugendhat wants the Justice Secretary Robert Buckland to back a Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill amendment in order to adjust sentencing legislation on child abuse.

In order for the Bill to become law, the Bill must pass through both the Houses of Commons and the House of Lords. It is then sent to the Queen for Royal Assent.