By Claire Gordon • 11 December 2021 • 12:30
A former Tory MP who once worked as Theresa May’s Chief of Staff has been found guilty of raping his wife by a family court judge at a private trial. The judge concluded that Andrew Griffiths pressurised his wife Kate Griffiths, the Conservative MP for Burton into engaging in sexual activity, and used “coercive and controlling behaviour”.
The couple are now divorced and have been settling a dispute centred on a child at private family court hearings in Derby. Mr Griffiths, 51, was the MP for Burton and the minister for small business, as well as once working as Theresa May’s chief of staff. He resigned from his government roles in July 2018 after a Sunday newspaper reported that he had sent “depraved” messages to two of his female constituents. The newspaper reported that over a course of three weeks he flooded the social media of a 28-year-old barmaid and her friend with lewd and inappropriate comments.
Judge Williscroft made findings, on the balance of probabilities, against Mr Griffiths and the allegation of him raping his wife in November 2020. Ms Griffiths, who is also 51, made a series of allegations against Mr Griffiths and asked Judge Williscroft to make findings of fact. Mr Griffiths denied the account made by Ms Griffiths and “adamantly denied” rape. Judge Williscroft made findings in favour of Ms Griffiths but decided that those findings should not be made public, in order to protect the child at the centre of the case. This was overturned on Friday 10 December by a judge in a higher court.
Mrs Justice Lieven said she had balanced the media’s right to free speech against rights to respect for family and private life. She said she had carried out an “intensive and fact-specific investigation” and concluded that Judge Williscroft’s findings should be made public. “I accept that, on the specific facts of this case, there is considerable and legitimate public interest in the publication of the judgment including the parties being identified”, she said.
“The father was in a prominent and powerful position in the UK. Importantly, his role as an MP and a minister meant that he had a role in law-making, including in respect of issues concerning domestic abuse. The mere fact that he was an MP, let alone a minister, means that there is a strong public interest in the public knowing about a finding by a judge of the conduct of the nature of that set out in the judgment.”
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