A Highly Conflicted Parental Relationship and Dissemination of Information Regarding Private Children Law Proceedings - GIBBS V GIBBS [2017] EWHC 1700 (Fam)

A Highly Conflicted Parental Relationship and Dissemination of Information Regarding Private Children Law Proceedings - GIBBS V GIBBS [2017] EWHC 1700 (Fam)


A mother has recently been committed to 9 months in prison, after breaching a court order prohibiting her from disclosing, disseminating or publishing information regarding private children law proceedings, and particuarly, serious allegations she had made against the father. 


The background to this matter involves private children law proceedings that started in 2001, when the father made an application seeking contact with their two children. The mother, who resisted the application, made a string of serious allegations of abuse against the father. Over the course of the proceedings, and following an appeal by the mother at the High Court in 2003, it was determined that the allegations were unfounded. 


The mother, infact, conceded that the allegations could not be substantiated and it was subsequently agreed that she would not raise any further allegations against that father, in any form, particuarly to the father’s employers. 


Following an order, reached by consent, for contact to take place between the father and the children, contact broke down due to the continuing animosity between the parents. The mother’s connivance towards the father continued; she made the allegations directly to the children, and to third parties in the community. The father, struggling to cope with the mother’s behaviour, abandoned his applcation for contact. 


This matter then came before the court once again in 2017, as it had transpired that the mother had continued her campaign of vilification against the father. The mother had sent emails to thousands of people citing allegations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse against the father. The court repeated that such claims were unsubstantiated and no findings had been made in 2001 to 2003, or in any years that followed. 


On 19th June 2017 Roberts J made an order, reinforced by a penal notice, that the mother must not “disclose, disseminate or publish any information about these proceedings concerning the Applicant [father], or any proceedings in the family court that have involved the parties and any allegations made within the context of proceedings in the family court, whether by print, electonic form, or on the worldwide web and should not instuct, encourage or in anyway suggest that another person should do so.” 


By the following day however the mother had breached the order, sending emails to hundreds more. 


The father applied to commit the mother to prison. The Judge found in light of the mother’s defiant behaviour and an unwillingness to change, he had no option but to impose a custodial sentence. 


This case highlights the diffictulies that can arise when a party cannot, and will not, accept the outcome of the forensic process.  It may also serve as reminder that contemporanoeus evidence is crucial.  If you are in an abusive relationship, or you are being wrongly accused of such behaviour, you must speak to your GP who will sign post you to a suitable support team.  In addition, you should keep a diary of events, and relevant evidence.


If you require any assistance with a private children matter, or any other related matter, please contact our family solicitor Elaine Flynn on eflynn@jsf-law.co.uk or 01227 206 150. 



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