A renowned horse trainer and former jockey “coached” her daughter to falsely claim she had been sexually abused by her father, one of the country’s most senior judges disclosed yesterday.
Victoria Haigh “manufactured” sex abuse allegations about her former lover David Tune and their daughter before spreading the “scandalous” claims on the internet, the High Court heard.
In a rare move, the head of the family courts said the pair could be named so that Mr Tune could “tell the world” he was not a paedophile.
Miss Haigh came to public attention after John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP, identified her in Parliament.
He used parliamentary privilege in April to say Doncaster council was looking to imprison her after she spoke at a meeting in the Commons about the family courts. He named her as part of a campaign over the use of injunctions and secrecy in the courts, which also saw him name Ryan Giggs and Sir Fred Goodwin as individuals at the centre of injunctions. In a public hearing yesterday, Sir Nicholas said she had been behind sex allegations against Mr Tune and had “caused” her daughter, now seven, to “repeat them”.
Miss Haigh and an “investigator” she used had gone on to put the “scandalous allegations” into the public domain “via email and the internet” in breach of court orders, he added. Sir Nicholas said the allegations made were untrue and her actions had been “wholly contrary” to her daughter’s interests.
The private investigator who helped Miss Haigh during the custody battle was yesterday jailed for nine months for contempt of court after breaching a court order preventing reporting of the case.
Elizabeth Watson, of Bournemouth, Dorset, had sent “aggressive, intimidating” emails to council staff involved in the case which had found their way on to websites and “compromised the well-being” of a child. Sir Nicholas also made an order that Miss Haigh could not make any application in relation to her daughter without his permission for two years.
The child now lived with her father and was subject to a local authority care plan, the hearing in London was told. The judge ruled that Miss Haigh, Mr Tune and Doncaster metropolitan borough council, the local authority working with the little girl, could be identified.
But he said the girl – referred to as “X” in court – should not be named. Judges have previously heard evidence about the case at private hearings. Sir Nicholas said he had decided to sit in open court so that the public could be told that Mr Tune was “not a paedophile”.
“Allegations of sexual abuse were first made by the mother and not by X,” he said. “These were false and the mother knew them to be false.” He added: “X was coached by the mother to make allegations of sexual abuse against the father.”
Sir Nicholas said two judges examined the case at previous High Court hearings and both found that Mr Tune was not a paedophile and had not sexually abused his daughter. He added: “The father is entitled to tell the world, and the world is entitled to know, that he is not a paedophile, that he has not sexually abused his daughter and that the allegations made against him are false.”