MP vows to campaign for domestic abuse victims after rape ruling against politician ex-husband
A Conservative MP found to have been raped by her politician ex-husband says she will campaign for victims of domestic violence.
Kate Griffiths, MP for Burton in Staffordshire, waived her legal right to anonymity in a bid to help journalists reveal a family court judge’s findings about Andrew Griffiths at a private hearing.
Mr Griffiths, 51, had argued that Judge Elizabeth Williscroft’s findings should not be made public but lost fights in the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
Three appeal judges ruled on Friday that Judge Williscroft’s findings could be made public after a 12-month legal fight by two media organisations, and Ms Griffiths, 51, said now she wanted to help other victims.
“I welcome this decision as a positive step forward in a legal battle that has taken a huge emotional and financial toll on my family,” she said.
“I supported publication of the Family Court’s findings – and waived my right to anonymity — because I recognise the unique position I am in to campaign to improve the outcomes of cases such as this, for those who endure domestic violence, and the actions taken to protect the children involved.
“When I stood for election as member of Parliament for Burton and Uttoxeter, I promised I would be a voice for those who have been victims of domestic abuse.
“I am committed to working with colleagues across Parliament to improve both the support available to — and the outcomes for — those who have been through similar experiences to me.”
Barrister Charlotte Proudman, who represents Ms Griffiths, posted a tweet describing the MP as “amazing”.
Judge Williscroft is overseeing a dispute between Mr and Ms Griffiths (pictured) centred on a child.
In November 2020, the judge had considered Ms Griffiths’ allegations about the way Mr Griffiths had treated her.
Mr Griffiths denied her allegations and “adamantly denied” rape.
But Judge Williscroft found on the balance of probabilities that Mr Griffiths had raped Ms Griffiths, pressured her into sexual activity, and used “coercive and controlling behaviour”.
Mr Griffiths used to be the MP for Burton and the minister for small business, and once worked as Theresa May’s chief of staff. He resigned in July 2018 after a Sunday newspaper reported that he had sent “depraved” messages to two constituents.
He was reported to have bombarded a 28-year-old barmaid and her friend with lewd comments over social media during a three-week period.
Judge Williscroft made findings in favour of Ms Griffiths but decided that those findings should not be made public, to protect the child at the centre of the case.
Two journalists – freelance Louise Tickle, who works for Tortoise Media, and a PA news agency reporter – learned about Judge Williscroft’s findings.
They argued that the public had a right to know and launched a legal fight.
Mr Griffiths said the judge’s findings should stay private, to protect the child at the centre of the case.
High Court judge Mrs Justice Lieven ruled that Judge Williscroft’s findings should be revealed, and Mr and Ms Griffiths named.
Appeal judges have now dismissed a challenge to that ruling by Ms Griffiths.
“This battle has taken over a year, and has cost Tortoise tens of thousands of pounds,” said Tortoise Media editor Basia Cummings.
“We joined with PA Media to argue that the details of this case should be published, putting collaboration ahead of competition to fight to report in the public interest.
“If we had not, the privacy of the family courts would have allowed a former politician to hide his abuse, and would have denied his wife any chance to speak about it.
“Without transparency, there is no accountability, and we welcome today’s judgment by the Court of Appeal.”
Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2021, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Aaron Chown / PA.