High court judge calls for ban on domestic abusers cross-examining their victims in person

Mr Justice Hayden, a high court judge, has vowed to ban domestic abusers from cross-examining their victims in his court, following a trial that he called a “stain on the reputation” of the family justice system, according to an article in The Guardian. Cross-examination of a victim by a perpetrator has long been banned in the criminal courts.

Mr Justice Hayden described hearing the case of a Pakistani woman who had been granted asylum in the UK along with her 11-year-old son. The husband wanted his son to be returned to Pakistan where he now lived. The husband had been “short-tempered, domineering and cold” towards his wife, had frequently punched or slapped her and made threats against her life, the judge concluded.

To challenge the spouse’s claims, the mother agreed to be cross-examined by the man, who made an appearance via video link from Pakistan. He was able to ask her questions directly rather than through a lawyer.

The judge allowed the woman to turn her back to the video screen so she did not have to engage face-to-face with her former partner.

Commenting on what happened, Mr Justice Hayden said: “I have found it extremely disturbing to have been required to watch this woman cross-examined about a period of her life that has been so obviously unhappy and by a man who was the direct cause of her unhappiness.”

He added: “It is a stain on the reputation of our family justice system that a judge can still not prevent a victim being cross-examined by an alleged perpetrator. No victim of abuse should ever again be required to be cross-examined by their abuser in any court, let alone in a family court where protection of children and the vulnerable is central to its ethos.”

Family & Relationships Barrister - myBarrister