Gibbs v Gibbs: dealing with the unrepentant contemnor

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The primary purpose of my posts reporting upon recent judgments is to summarise the judgment, thus relieving the reader of the task of reading the whole thing. However, in the judgment in Gibbs v Gibbs, handed down today, Mrs Justice Lieven has done the job of summarising for me.

The reason for this is set out in the summary, which I now repeat in full:

"I am setting out a short summary of my judgment so that Mr Gibbs can, if he wishes, send it to those who have received Mrs Gibbs' emails and those people can understand what I judge to be the truth of the allegations made by Mrs Gibbs.

"Mr Gibbs applied to commit his ex-wife Mrs Gibbs to prison for breaching two orders of the court that she should not publish allegations that he had abused their son (J) 20 years ago. Mrs Gibbs applied to discharge those orders. Mrs Gibbs accepted that she had breached the orders on very many occasions but said that she had a reasonable excuse for doing so arguing that the allegations are all true.

"In order to be fair to both parties, and so that I could set out in a judgment a complete overview of the case, I examined a large amount of material which Mrs Gibbs said supported her case. I read the police interview of J in 2019, the police report into the investigation of J's allegations, and much of the original documentation which was before the family courts in 2000-2006 when Mrs Gibbs started making her allegations. I also read the various earlier judgments concerning those proceedings.

"Having read these documents I have come to the clear conclusion that Mrs Gibbs' allegations are not true. She has for many years been convinced of the truth of the allegations and has been conducting an obsessive campaign against her ex-husband. She frequently distorts the truth and alleges that various people have believed her when on examination this is not true.

"The reasons that I have found against Mrs Gibbs are, in summary, that many professionals were involved with J at the time of the original allegations. None of those professionals suggested that that he had been sexually abused, and the judges who considered the matter at the time did not accept Mrs Gibbs' allegations. All the subsequent investigations stemmed from Mrs Gibbs' complaints, not from any evidence of abuse. J in 2019 gave an interview to the police when he made very extreme and lurid allegations. Having read these I judge that they are not true and that they may stem from a desire to appease Mrs Gibbs who has pressured J to make allegations against his father for many years. J made allegations that Mr Gibbs had abused J's sister, which she has denied, and which has absolutely no supporting evidence.

"Mrs Gibbs has placed much reliance on the comments of HHJ Holt in Norwich Crown Court when the CPS decided not to prosecute Mrs Gibbs for breach of the non-molestation order. I have not spoken to Judge Holt, but it is important to understand that I have read all the papers he had and I have read many of the original papers dating back to 2000 which he did not have access to. I am therefore in a better position to consider the truth of the allegations than he was.

"I have decided not to send Mrs Gibbs to prison despite the fact that she has breached the orders on numerous occasions and has no reasonable excuse for having done so. This is because she has already been to prison for breach of an earlier order and has simply persisted with her campaign. I am confident that if I send her to prison, for however long, when she comes out she will continue her vendetta against Mr Gibbs. I therefore consider the more effective remedy for Mr Gibbs is for me to publish a full and detailed judgment with an executive summary so that he can distribute this to anyone who has been sent Mrs Gibbs' allegations. I have also ordered the sale of Mrs Gibbs' house to pay the costs of the various proceedings Mr Gibbs has been forced to bring."

Let us hope that this method of dealing with an unrepentant contemnor, rather than (further) committal to prison, has the desired effect.

If you wish to read the full judgment, you can find it here.