Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA
The Family Court in Derby has today delivered a judgement confirming that former MP and Minister Andrew Griffiths, should only be allowed ‘letterbox’ contact with his child due to the risks he poses. The judgement, delivered by Mrs Justice Lieven, concludes “I am afraid that my conclusion . . . is that the Father’s main concern remains himself and what is best for him”. Griffiths’ former wife, the current MP for Burton and Uttoxeter Kate Kniveton, has been fighting to protect her child since the Family Court published its judgement in 2021 confirming that Griffiths had repeatedly raped and physically abused her during their marriage. Her victory in this lengthy court battle marks a turning point not only in her personal life but also in her mission to help others facing similar struggles.
Reflecting on her experiences, Kate Kniveton MP said:
“This verdict marks another milestone in my attempt to protect my child from my former husband, whose abusive treatment towards me during our marriage, left me in no doubt that my child would be at risk if contact with him continued. Since I made the decision in 2021 to allow my Family Court hearing to be made public, I have heard harrowing accounts from others who have struggled with the court system and have been engaged in legal battles with their former abusers. Only those who have been through this experience will understand just how emotionally and financially draining it is.
“Domestic abuse is a pervasive issue that affects countless individuals, and it is time for our legal system to evolve in order to provide genuine protection for survivors. After ten years in an abusive relationship, it has taken a further five years to secure this judgement, and during that time, my experience has only deepened my commitment to secure reforms to the Family Court system so we can make it an easier journey for victims of domestic violence to escape the control their abusers have over them and to protect their children. As an MP, I recognise the unique position I have to be able to speak out and campaign for others who don’t have a voice and I will continue to work with my colleagues in Government, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner and others to ensure I do all I can to be a strong voice for survivors. I have to pay enormous tribute to my legal team, my barrister Dr Charlotte Proudman and my solicitor, Melanie Bridgen of Nelsons. They have been an endless source of support and I couldn’t have got through this horrendous process without them.”
Kate Kniveton is calling for a collaborative effort from her colleagues in Parliament, legal experts, and advocacy groups to bring about meaningful change. Her vision includes a family court system that prioritises the safety and well-being of victims and their children, ensuring that justice is served swiftly and effectively. Since the 2021 verdict, Ms Kniveton has spoken about her experiences many times in Parliament, and used her expertise to lobby Ministers for changes to family court procedures. These include ensuring that in the future victims of rape or domestic abuse are no longer made to pay for their perpetrator’s costs of contact. Ms Kniveton continues to challenge Ministers to speed up reforms to change the presumption of parental involvement with children where there has been domestic abuse and believes that having this presumption, often referred to as 'contact at all costs', continues to put children at risk as well as prolong the court process which is retraumatising for victims.