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Ex-MP found to have raped wife in abusive marriage loses bid for child contact

Andrew Griffiths arrives at the Royal Courts of Justice in London (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Archive)
Andrew Griffiths arrives at the Royal Courts of Justice in London (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Archive)

A former Conservative minister found to have raped and physically abused his ex-wife has been blocked by a judge from seeing his child, rejecting his plea for a chance to prove he is “not a monster”. Andrew Griffiths, who was the MP for Burton and small business minister under Theresa May, was in 2021 found by a High Court judge to have raped and abused Kate Kniveton during their marriage.

Griffiths was forced out of government by a sexting scandal in 2018, followed by Ms Kniveton ending their marriage and winning a selection battle to take over his Parliamentary seat.

The 2021 bombshell ruling, published with Ms Kniveton’s consent, named Griffiths for the first time and laid out the conclusions of a High Court judge’s fact-finding exercise.

Griffiths had assaulted his wife when she was pregnant, resorted to physical violence and verbal abuse repeatedly, spat in Ms Kniveton’s face, and raped her on multiple occasions as she slept, the ruling found.

Mr Griffiths has “strongly denied” allegations made by Ms Griffiths – and denied rape.

In a ruling released on Tuesday, Mrs Justice Lieven rejected Griffiths’ bid for regular meetings with the former couple’s five-year-old child.

During the legal battle, he was granted weekly 30-minute video calls. But the judge has now ended that contact for the next three years, restricting Griffiths to cards and letters to his child.

The judge said Griffiths wanted direct contact with his child “to make amends” and to make sure the youngster “did not believe he was a monster”.

She detailed how Griffiths’ life “fell apart” after the sexting scandal, as he lost his marriage, job, and good reputation and spent some time in a mental health hospital.

At a hearing conducted in private, Griffiths said he “understood what he had done was wrong”, but the judge concluded: “It is very difficult to tell whether this is learned responses from an intelligent and articulate man or reflects any deeper understanding of the impact of his behaviour.”

She said Griffiths still does not accept the High Court finding of rape, and he “definitely has a tendency to portray himself as the victim of the proceedings”.

And she decided Griffiths does not have “any real understanding or insight into what (Ms Kniveton) has and still is going through”.

Ms Kniveton, who as an MP has been a campaigner for domestic abuse victims, gave emotional evidence to the High Court hearing, detailing the stress and trauma she has suffered as a result of the marital abuse and the impact of five years of “draining” litigation.

The judge agreed to a three-year “letterbox” order, restricting Griffiths’ contact with his child, to give Ms Kniveton “a break from litigation and the strain it places upon her”.

“One cannot underestimate the toll that litigation takes, particularly where one party has been the victim of very serious abuse by the other”, she added.

The judge also allowed for the child’s name to be changed from Griffiths to Griffiths Kniveton.

According to the judge's order, Griffiths is allowed to contact his child in writing four times a year via letters or cards, as well as at Christmas and on the child's birthday.