Ex-MP barred from having direct contact with child

Former Tory minister Andrew Griffiths
Former Tory minister Andrew Griffiths can only contact his child through letters

A former Conservative minister found to have raped and abused his ex-wife cannot have direct contact with his child in the "reasonably short term", the High Court has ruled.

Ex-Burton MP Andrew Griffiths was told in a ruling published on Tuesday that he can only contact his child through letters.

It came after a family court judgement in 2021 found that he had raped ex-wife Kate Kniveton, current MP for the same constituency, and pressured her into sexual activity during their marriage.

Mr Griffiths claimed the courts had been used to "run a political campaign” and said they had let his child down.

The ruling followed a hearing in January in which Mr Griffiths made a bid for weekly-supervised contact with the child, who he previously saw once per week via videolink for 30 minutes.

But Mrs Justice Lieven ruled that it would be in the child's best interests to only have contact with their father through letters.

The judge said the former minister was slow to understand or acknowledge the impact his conduct had on the child, who cannot be identified for legal reasons.

She said Mr Griffiths had accepted most of the findings made against him, except the finding that he had raped Ms Kniveton, who has waived her legal right to anonymity.

Kate Kniveton
Kate Kniveton said the ruling "marked another milestone" in her battle

Mrs Justice Lieven continued: "Most worryingly, he seemed unconcerned about the emotional impact on the mother of his determined pursuit of contact and effectively took the approach that this was the mother's problem."

She added that she did not doubt Mr Griffiths loved the child but referred to his refusal to accept the previous judgement and said he had tried to portray himself as the victim.

Mr Griffiths will be permitted to send letters and cards four times a year, as well as for the child's birthday and Christmas, and will receive updates from his child's school and Ms Kniveton.

In a statement Ms Kniveton, a Conservative MP, said: “After 10 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," she added.

'The loser is our child'

Mr Griffiths said the court had chosen to treat his case differently and put his child “through lifelong consequences of this being played out in the glare of national media”.

“The family court has been used to run a political campaign and to gain publicity rather than putting the best interests of our child first. The loser is our child, with whom I have a loving and meaningful relationship,” he said.

“The courts have badly let down our child and we will all have to live with the consequences. For my family this decision hurts like a bereavement - we are losing a child that is loved more than anything in the world.”

Mr Griffiths resigned as minister for small business in 2018 after it was reported he sent "depraved" messages to two women constituents.

He did not stand in the 2019 general election after party members selected Ms Kniveton to stand for Burton instead.

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