Church minister’s ex-wife conducted ‘obsessive campaign’ against him, court hears
PUBLISHED: 08:55 06 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:47 06 August 2020
The ex-wife of a clergyman conducted “an obsessive campaign” against him, repeatedly making false claims that he had abused their now grown-up son, the High Court has heard.
Jean Gibbs, 60, from Attleborough, has been ordered to sell her house to cover the legal bills of her ex-husband, Methodist minister, the Rev Charles Gibbs - but a judge opted against jailing her.
After the breakdown of their marriage, Gibbs repeatedly spread allegations that Mr Gibbs had abused the pair’s son and in 2017 was jailed for nine months by another judge following an application by the minister.
Mr Gibbs, 70, argued she had breached judges’ orders to not make such allegations and wanted her to be jailed for contempt of court.
And while Mrs Justice Lieven opted against a further jail sentence for contempt of court on Wednesday, she ordered her to sell her house - worth more than £200,000 - to cover her ex-husband’s legal fees.
Mrs Justice Lieven, who analysed the case in the High Court’s Family Division, has ruled in his favour, but concluded that jailing Gibbs would not halt the “vendetta”.
But after Gibbs spent four-and-a-half months in jail she immediately “recommenced” sending emails, according to Mrs Justice Lieven.
The judge said she had decided the best way to protect Mr Gibbs was to publish a ruling which showed “the truth”.
Gibbs had publicised “lurid” allegations to as “wide an audience as possible”, resulting in a “devastating impact” on her ex-husband’s quality of life and ministry, said Mrs Justice Lieven.
In her ruling, the judge added: “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 20 years ago.
“Mrs Gibbs accepted she had breached the orders on many occasions, but said she had a reasonable excuse for doing so, arguing that the allegations are all true.
“I have come to the clear conclusion that Mrs Gibbs’ allegations are not true. She has, for many years, been convinced of the allegations and has conducted an obsessive campaign against her ex-husband.”
“I am confident that if I send her to prison, when she comes out she will continue her vendetta,” she said.
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