Creating a sexually explicit “deepfake” image is to be made an offence under new legislation, the Ministry of Justice has announced.

Under the new legislation, anyone who creates a sexually explicit deepfake without consent will face a criminal record and an unlimited fine.

They could even face jail, if the image is shared more widely.

The creation of a deepfake will be an offence irrespective of whether the creator intended to share it or not, the department added.

The new offence will be introduced through an amendment to the controversial Criminal Justice Bill, which is still making its way through Parliament.

James Cleverly child protection policy announcement
Minister for Victims and Safeguarding Laura Farris (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Minister for Victims and Safeguarding Laura Farris said the creation of deepfake sexual images is “unacceptable irrespective of whether the image is shared”.

“It is another example of ways in which certain people seek to degrade and dehumanise others – especially women,” she said.

“And it has the capacity to cause catastrophic consequences if the material is shared more widely. This Government will not tolerate it.

“This new offence sends a crystal clear message that making this material is immoral, often misogynistic, and a crime.”

Deborah Joseph, European editorial director of Glamour welcomed the planned amendment.

“In a recent Glamour survey, we found 91% of our readers believe deepfake technology poses a threat to the safety of women, and from hearing personal stories from victims, we also know how serious the impact can be,” she said.

“While this is an important first step, there is still a long way to go before women will truly feel safe from this horrendous activity.”

Yvette Cooper, Labour’s shadow home secretary, welcomed the announcement too.

“Superimposing somebody’s image onto sexually explicit photos and videos is a gross violation of their autonomy and privacy, which can cause enormous harm, and it must not be tolerated,” she said.

Ms Cooper said it was “vital” the Government gets ahead of “fast-changing threats”.

She added: “It’s essential that the police and prosecutors are equipped with the training and tools required to rigorously enforce these laws in order to stop perpetrators from acting with impunity”.