Ex-Tory minister Andrew Griffiths found to have raped and abused wife

10 December 2021, 21:17

Andrew Griffiths, pressurised Kate Griffiths into engaging in sexual activity and used "coercive and controlling behaviour”
Andrew Griffiths, pressurised Kate Griffiths into engaging in sexual activity and used "coercive and controlling behaviour”. Picture: UK Parliament

By Megan Hinton

A former Conservative minister raped and physically abused his wife, a family court judge has ruled.

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Andrew Griffiths, 51, was found to have pressurised Kate Griffiths, MP for Burton-upon-Trent, into engaging in sexual activity "on more than one occasion" and used "coercive and controlling behaviour".

The ruling was made on the balance of probabilities, by Judge Elizabeth Williscroft, during a family court dispute over access to the divorced couple's young child.

Mr Griffiths denied allegations made by Ms Griffiths and "adamantly denied" rape but Judge Williscroft made findings in favour of Ms Griffiths.

The former Small Business Minister previously resigned from his position back in July 2018 after he reportedly bombarded a 28-year-old barmaid and her friend with up to 2,000 sexually explicit and "depraved" messages over social media during a three-week period.

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Judge Williscroft decided the findings of the family court should not be made public, in order to protect the child at the centre of the proceedings.

But after a 12-month battle, a High Court judge ruled that Judge Williscroft's findings should be revealed, after it was argued by the Press Association and Tortoise Media they were in the public interest.

Now Kate Griffiths, MP for Burton in Staffordshire, has waived her legal right to anonymity in a bid to help other victims.

"I welcome this decision as a positive step forward in a legal battle that has taken a huge emotional and financial toll on my family," she said.

"I supported publication of the Family Court's findings - and waived my right to anonymity - because I recognise the unique position I am in to campaign to improve the outcomes of cases such as this, for those who endure domestic violence, and the actions taken to protect the children involved.

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"When I stood for election as member of Parliament for Burton and Uttoxeter, I promised I would be a voice for those who have been victims of domestic abuse.

"I am committed to working with colleagues across Parliament to improve both the support available to - and the outcomes for - those who have been through similar experiences to me."

Mr Griffiths said that he was "deeply disappointed" that appeal judges had ruled that findings could be published.

"I am deeply disappointed that the Court of Appeal has allowed the publication of proceedings in the family court," he said in a statement.

"Publication is a huge legal step with implications for me, my child and many others.

"Whilst there remain legal constraints on what I can say because the entirety of the judgment has not been published, I strongly denied the allegations put to me.

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"However, the Family Court, which I believed to be private, made findings against me on the balance of probabilities.

"It is important that the media does not misrepresent the findings or proceedings.

"I love my child very much and my aim has always been to protect (my child) from publicity so that they can come to terms with these proceedings away from the glare of publicity.

"I will continue to do what I can to repair the damage that publication of this case has caused and I will support my child in every way that I can."