I first became aware of the case of Victoria Haigh in about 2013, when my concern about the activities of the then MP John Hemming began to mount up.
In 2018 I noticed Victoria Haigh on Twitter. She was supported by a number of self styled campaigners who were linked by their shared belief that the family justice system was fundamentally a tool of misogynistic oppression against women, favouring the rights of violent men over the women they abused.
I have written about this before. I don’t think its true. My position simply is this: the Children Act is the statutory expression of the need to put the welfare of the child first and foremost in any decision making process. Neither sex has the monopoly on bad behaviour and my experience in practice shows a pretty equal split between emotionally abusive behaviour by both mothers and fathers. However, as is unsurprising given mens greater physical strength, they are more likely to be physically aggressive to their partners than women.
The fact that I am insulted, threatened and blocked online pretty equally by Mens Rights Activitists and Female DV campaigners suggests to me that I must be doing something right.
When I questioned the validity of Victoria Haigh as any kind of campaigner against the family courts, given the very clear findings made against her that she had subjected her own child to serious emotional harm, I was met with instant vilification and told to ‘fuck off’ as I was a ‘narc’.
So far, so internet.
I was however extremely alarmed to see this a few weeks later.
If you don't know who Vicky Haigh is – Google. In a nutshell she lied about her daughter's father having abused her and was found to have abused her own child. And here she is trawling the web for 'victims'. Will anyone in the DV sector speak up about this @ZDronfield ? pic.twitter.com/hh2rduvuqY
— Sarah Phillimore (@SVPhillimore) February 3, 2019
A lot of people saw this tweet – at least by my standards. My tweets usually get about 300 ‘impressions’ with an ‘engagement rate’ of about 2%. This one (at time of writing February 4th 2019) 2,449 people have seen it and 279 engaged. A rate of 11.3 %. So clearly a topic that attracted more attention than I usually get on line. But no comments. No one replied to say ‘well, that looks a bit worrying.’ Silence.
So I asked again. Why the silence? did no one in the DV sector see the obvious problems with affording moral authority to a woman found to be a child abuser? Who had been fairly tried and rightly punished by the legal system? Did anyone think that this was the way to work to achieve necessary change in this area?
Zoe Dronfield replied by simply posting a link to something called The Red Mother: An interview with Victoria Haigh.
The thrust of this article is immediately apparent from the first paragraph
During the proceedings Victoria reported that her daughter had told her that her father is sexually abusing her. The response of the system was swift and cruel – the girl was taken away from Victoria and her father got sole custody of her. Victoria was accused of coaching the girl and being an emotionally abusive mother (see also this article in the UK Telegraph). Never one to buckle under, she then went public with her case and stressed further investigations. For an alledged breach of a no-contact order (no contact with her daughter that is) Victoria was eventually put on trial and sentenced to 3 years in prison. After her release she moved to France with her youngest daughter (not related to the alledged molester of her older daughter) to re-start her career as horse-trainer.
This sounds shocking. But it is not true. The truth is this. Victoria Haigh was found to have told lies about her ex sexually abusing their daughter. She was found to have tried to make contact with her on a garage forecourt and she was sent to prison for breach of a non-molestation order. She was found, on evidence, to be a child abuser.
See for example:
Doncaster MBC v Haigh, Tune and X  EWHC B16 (Fam) where – very unusually – the LA asked the court to make its judgment public and to name Ms Haigh because of the amount of misleading information that she was putting out into the public domain
Family Law week summarised these proceedings in this way
This case had begun as a private law contact dispute between Victoria Haigh, who was the mother of X and the child’s father, David Tune. Following a court hearing of this dispute in respect of which Ms Haigh was clearly unhappy, she made allegations that David Tune had sexually assaulted X. These allegations were duly investigated and at a fact-finding hearing, HHJ Robertshaw had concluded that X had not been abused and that she had been coached by Ms Haigh. At that hearing, the mother’s stance was not that X had been sexually abused, but rather that X had made these allegations as a reaction to the stressful relationships around her. The judge disagreed, however, and found that the allegations were false and had originated in the mind of the mother.
The mother refused to accept the findings, despite her stance at the fact-finding hearing. Her views about the alleged abuse hardened to become a certainty which she expressed dogmatically. At a subsequent hearing, HHJ Jones concluded that the mother had continued to influence X and to manipulate her feelings whilst in fact ‘placing her own as the priority’. HHJ Jones concluded that it would be contrary to X’s best interest to live with her mother. A decision was made that X should reside with her father. The local authority offered supervised contact between the mother and X but Ms Haigh felt unable to attend and decided she would not see X at all.
The mother’s attention then turned towards a media and internet-based campaign designed to remedy what she claimed was a miscarriage of justice. Assisted by an Elizabeth Watson, who described herself as a private case investigator, she put a large number of highly critical comments and information about the case and all of the professionals involved into the public domain. She also contacted the father’s employers and colleagues and parents of children who attended X’s school and falsely alleged to them that Mr Tune was a paedophile. This was in breach of orders made by the High Court prohibiting the publication of any information that would lead to the identity of the child or any other family members. On 25 February 2011 Baker J made an order prohibiting the mother and Ms Watson from communicating via the internet, media or otherwise “any information relating to the proceedings under the Children Act concerning X”.
The author of the interview asks
Why are a mother and child punished so severly for simply talking about sexual abuse and saying that it has occured? Why is a woman sentenced to 3 years in prison for saying hello to her own child? And to what extent was this mother surveillanced, by whom and why?
The answers to these questions would have been found easily in the judgment cited above. But she clearly doesn’t think it worth checking any other source than the narrative offered to her by Victoria Haigh.
Victoria Haigh goes on to expressly assert that the findings against her were the result of deliberate corruption, a campaign ‘to cover up the truth’.
They do what they do. The police do not investigate the crimes. If one complains, the complaints are investigated by those one lays the complaint against and one is sent in a spin cycle of chaos. Then it is the complainant or victim or associate of the victim who begins to have court orders put on them! An innocent person can soon become a criminal, just like me! It was all a complete smoke screen to avoid achieving any kind of justice…
My retrial was an overall tactic by the judiciary, police, ministry of justice at the highest level, to shut me down once and for all with their utmost effort of propaganda, blackmail and whatever else they threw at me. I was not going to stay silent therefore they used their well trodden tactic of pulling my reputation to pieces. To discredit a witness is how the criminals defendthemselves. I was the mouthpiece for my child so by shutting me down, my child was shut down too.
I am quite prepared to accept that miscarriages of justice occur. That wrong decisions are made. It is certainly not impossible that Victoria Haigh has been a victim of such a miscarriage of justice, although I note she has not chose to appeal against any of the court judgments made against her. However, when asked WHY she thinks the family court system acted against her in the way it did, she gives this answer. I find this shocking. There is absolutely no evidence from any credible source that this is happening. This is delusional conspiracy theorising of the worst kind.
There is evidence through MOSAC (Mothers of Sexually Abused Children, a Charity) that women are being groomed to have babies and the babies are being ‘won’ in a ‘custody battle’ by the peodophile father. If a paodophile father uses this as a template which according to the patterns we have seen, these men are using, very successfully, the length and breadth of the UK the same tactic applying for contact through these secret courts accusing the mother of alienating them from their child, in most cases they win custody, never get prosecuted and have freedom and the law on their side to rape their own children under complete protection of the State through the court orders they achieve. The mothers in all of these cases are gagged and prevented from having any contact with their children, knowing at the same time their children are not safe from child sexual abuse. It is torture for the child and the mother.
She goes on to describe family lawyers as ‘cowards or paedophiles’.
This is deeply worrying and depressing. I do not doubt that some men sexually abuse children and women. I do not doubt some men are violent. I do not doubt the family court system could do a better job of dealing with such cases quickly and fairly. I do not doubt that many women find it hard to provide the evidence a court will insist on to prove that they are the victims of coercive or controlling behaviour. I do not doubt that many women fear the family court system I do not doubt that many do not understand what is going on. I do not doubt that many criticisms are well made, and I have made many myself.
Not everything Haigh says in this interview sounds insane. What she says, for example about the women she met in prison strikes a chord.
The women in prison ALL had crimes committed against them that were much worse than the crimes they had committed to be imprisoned including myself. This again sums up the terrible treatment of women in the UK. “It truly is a terrible country to live in. I looked around at these women and realised instantly that these women needed help and certainly not locking up. Many were products of the UK care system and it goes without saying were sexually abused in care. I was very saddened by what I saw in that place.
But I reject any allegation that the family court system is deliberately set up to oppress women or is part of some ‘baby farm’ for paedophile fathers.
Either lawyers don’t do a good enough job of explaining or the removal of legal aid has left more and more floundering as litigants in person. When I engage with those who criticise the family justice system and ask them what processes they would have in place other than the testing of allegations by a Judge, I get no answer.
Victoria Haigh is a mother who was found by a variety of judges over the years to have lied and manipulated her daughter into reporting abuse about her father that never happened. She did not appeal against those judgments. They stand as the truth. This is the operation of the rule of law.
So I put the question again to those in the ‘DV Sector’ who stand behind those such as Haigh and promote such narratives that women are being groomed to have babies who will be ‘won’ by a paedophile, that family lawyers are ‘cowards or paedophiles’
- do you think this is true?
- If so, where is your evidence that this is true?
- If you accept you have no evidence, what real or lasting change do you think you will secure by campaigning in this way?
- To what degree does financial self interest motivate your promotion of such lurid fantasies about the family justice system?
I am sorry to be so cynical as I offer the last question. But when I dare to raise polite inquiry a to the wisdom of promoting Victoria Haigh as a campaigner against the family justice system and I am told to ‘fuck off narc’ by prominent campaigners who have a link to their book or their agent in their Twitter bio, I do wonder. I wonder quite a lot.
EDIT February 5th 2019
I had a conversation with Zoe Dronfield on Twitter. I asked her a number of times if she agreed with Haigh’s narrative that the family courts facilitate the rape of children by handing them over to obvious abusers. She wouldn’t answer. This is a great shame. There is clearly something worthy of discussion here. What has gone so wrong with the system that such delusional beliefs can take such deep roots? Haigh isn’t the only person who thinks and says this, not by a long shot. I have to accept that something ‘feels right’ about this narrative to a significant minority of people and that is very troubling. What can we do about this – if anything?
Maybe nothing. But the answer cannot be to ignore it. Its an inexorable rule of of life that ignoring a problem very rarely makes it go away but it will make others seriously question your motives and your good faith.
EDIT March 9th 2019
This article originally referred to Ms Haigh being found guilty of attempting to abduct her child from the garage forecourt. On Friday 6th March I received an email from Ms Haigh’s lawyers at 10.24am accusing me of making ‘false’ allegations about Ms Haigh and threatening action in defamation. I have agreed to amend ‘attempt to abduct’ for ‘breach of a non molestation order’ as I agree it is important to be accurate about such serious and important matters. However, I assert that to call Ms Haigh a ‘child abuser’ is true and accurate and I do not resile from that description. I will await with interest any summons to the High Court to defend my position which I shall very happily do.
Judgment of Sir Nicholas Wall August 2011
A note on the Vicky Haigh Case Stowe Family Law August 2011
A cautionary lesson: The Vicky Haigh and Liz Watson judgments Carl Gardener Head of Legal September 2011
When children are pawns: Vicky Haigh and Hampstead 2015 Hoaxstead Research
Links between Victoria Haigh and Sabine McNeill Hoaxstead Research video May 2019