24 08 2011
On 26 April 2011, on a point of order but in apparent breach of a High Court injunction, Mr John Hemming MP claimed that Vicky Haigh, a horse trainer and former jockey, “was the subject of an attempt by Doncaster council to imprison her for speaking at a meeting in Parliament“. A number of Twitter accounts subsequently disclosed that the injunction had been granted in family proceedings in which Ms Haigh had claimed that her former partner, David Tune, was a paedophile who had abused their daughter for some years.
This allegation became common currency on the internet and was used as an example of the abuse of “super-injunctions”. Other serious allegations were made against Mr Tune and members of his family. Ms Haigh was supported by a substantial internet campaign and by some parts of the mainstream media. A number of sympathetic newspaper stories – in particular by Christopher Booker in the “Daily Telegraph” on 30 April 2011 – described how Ms Haigh had fled to Ireland when pregnant to avoid her child being taken into care.
However, the true factual position – as found by the courts – is very different. This can now be disclosed as a result of a judgment given by the President of the Family Division, Sir Nicholas Wall, on 22 August 2011. The judgment was delivered orally but we understand that a full transcript will be available shortly, along with the judgments in the earlier cases.
The judgment was given on an application to commit a private investigator, Elizabeth Watson – who had assisted Ms Haigh in preparing her case – for contempt of court. Ms Watson had sent “aggressive, intimidating” e-mails to council staff involved in the case which also found their way on to websites, and “compromised the well-being” of a child. An order was made committing her to prison for a period of 9 months.
In the course of his judgment the President said that he had decided that all the adults involved in the case should be named but that the child should continue to be known as “X”. He said that Ms Haigh had “manufactured” claims that the child’s father had sexually abused her, then “coached” X, now aged seven, to repeat the allegations. Ms Haigh and Ms Watson had put the “scandalous allegations” about Mr Tune into the public domain “via e-mail and the internet” in breach of court orders.
The President said that the allegations against Mr Tune were untrue and Ms Haigh’s actions were “wholly contrary” to her daughter’s interests. He said that judges had previously heard evidence about the case at private hearings, but he had decided to sit in open court so that the public could be told that Mr Tune was “not a paedophile”. He ordered that Ms Haigh could not make any application in relation to her daughter without his permission for two years......continue reading