London: A landmark hearing in the court of appeal is under way to examine how cases of domestic abuse are handled by judges in the family courts. It concerns four conjoined appeals which feature allegations including marital or partner rape and coercive control, which emerged during private proceedings to address disputes centred on access to children.
The appeals have been brought by mothers who have made serious claims against the fathers of their children, and challenge the decisions made by circuit judges at the family courts during the last 18 months. Two of the cases relate to decisions by Judge Robin Tolson, who was criticised last year by a more senior judge based in the Family Division of the high court over his handling of rape allegations. Ms Justice Russell upheld a woman’s appeal after she complained Tolson had deduced she could not have been raped because she took “no physical steps” to stop her assailant.
Barrister Christopher Hames QC, representing one of the four women, says his client is challenging Tolson’s decision to make “absolutely no findings” in respect of her “myriad of allegations”, including complaints of non-consensual sex, coercive control and that her partner “slapped her hard” when she was heavily pregnant.
Read more: Hannah Summers, Guardian, https://is.gd/aGwHes