Griffiths v Kniveton & Anor [2024] EWHC 199 (Fam)


Dr Charlotte Proudman represented Kate Kniveton MP at a final welfare hearing in which the court refused to order direct child contact between the father and child, the court ordered a s.91(14) order for three years, restricted the father’s exercise of parental responsibility and changed the child’s surname to include the mother’s surname. 

Louise Tickle has extensively covered this as one of the journalists who initially sought transparency orders for this case as it fell under public interest, in Tortoise, where she described the case in detail, recounting the struggle Kate faced. The judge said to the father, “…it feels like you’ve caused this mother a great deal of emotional and physical harm, and now it’s her problem, she’s got to do more therapy before she can deal with you?”

Kate suffered years of rape, domestic abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour by her ex-partner who at the time was an MP and Government Minister. She didn’t report the abuse because he said no one would believe her. Read the court transcript here. Kate had sought to challenge the presumption of parental involvement with a rapist parent. However, the GLD, on behalf of Alex Chalk MP, said it would seek costs against a rape victim (who is also a Conservative Party MP) if she had lost. She withdrew her application.

Transparency orders from Louise Tickle and Brian Farmer argued there was a public interest in publishing the judgment with the names of the parties. Family court proceedings are private and rarely reported. The High Court agreed that the judgment should be published, as did the Court of Appeal. This was a significant decision for victims and survivors. Read the judgment here.

At a later hearing, Kate was ordered by the family court to subside her rapist’s costs of child contact by 50%. Contact was supervised because of the risk he posed — not her. Dr Proudman represented Kate at this successful appeal, which made clear victims should not financially contribute towards their abusers. Read the judgment here.

You can read Dr Proudman’s writing on the case in The Guardian as well here and her discussion on the transparency pilot in relation to Kate’s case’s transparency here. You can find a full review of the case by Louise Tickle here and Kate’s commentary on Tortoise here. You can find Kate’s statement on this recent decision here.  Listen to C4 news

The case had a complex history; a summary of the decisions below:

Griffiths v Griffiths (Decision on Recusal) [2021] EWHC 3600 (Fam)

Dr Charlotte Proudman was successful on behalf of Kate Griffiths MP in opposing the father’s application for Mrs Justice Arbthunot to recuse herself. The law in respect of recusal and bias is set out in the judgment.

Griffiths v Griffiths (Guidance on Contact Costs) [2022] EWHC 113 (Fam)

On behalf of Kate Griffiths MP, Dr Charlotte Proudman successfully appealed an interim decision made by the family court. The court set aside an interim decision for direct contact between the child and the father (who had raped the mother) on the basis that PD12J had not been fully complied with amongst other matters. In addition, the court set aside an order that a rape victim financially contribute towards a rapist parent’s costs of child contact. As submitted by Dr Proudman, the court introduced a strong presumption against a victim ever paying a perpetrator’s costs of contact. This will assist other victims in the future.

Griffiths v Tickle [2021] EWCA Civ 1882

Dr Charlotte Proudman successfully represented Ms Kate Griffiths MP who sought the publication of the fact-finding judgment published with the names of the father and the mother including only modest redactions. The father’s appeal against publication was dismissed.

Tickle v Griffiths [2021] EWHC 3365 (Fam)

Two journalists made an application to publish the fact-finding judgment of HHJ Williscroft with the parent’s names. This application was supported by Ms Kate Griffiths MP who was represented by Dr Charlotte Proudman. The application was opposed by the father. The court found in favour of publication. The court highlighted the importance of a victim of rape, domestic abuse and coercive and controlling behaviour having the right to ‘tell their story’ and the family court should not be used by perpetrators to silence victims.

Griffiths v Griffiths [2020] DEI900318

Dr Charlotte Proudman represented Ms Kate Griffiths MP at a fact-finding hearing before HHJ Williscroft in the Family Court at Derby. Mr Andrew Griffiths, a former MP and government minister had applied for a child arrangements order, which was opposed by Ms Kniveton MP due to serious safeguarding concerns pursuant to PD12J. The family court made findings against Mr Griffiths of multiple rapes, domestic abuse, coercive and controlling behaviour (including post-separation coercive and controlling behaviour) and verbal abuse towards the child who was a few weeks old at the time.

Related barristers: Dr Charlotte Proudman

Related practice areas: Family


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