Clergyman’s ex-wife fails in appeal bid after judge’s ‘vendetta’ ruling

The Rev Charles Gibbs' wife, Jean Gibbs, from Attleborough, repeatedly made false claims against him

The Rev Charles Gibbs' wife, Jean Gibbs, from Attleborough, repeatedly made false claims against him, a court was told. Pic: Archant Library.

A Norfolk woman who could lose her home as a result of a judge concluding that she conducted an “obsessive campaign” against her clergyman ex-husband has lost a Court of Appeal fight.

Mrs Justice Lieven last month decided that Jean Gibbs, who is in her 60s and lives in Attleborough, had breached orders barring her from making sex abuse allegations against Methodist minister, the Rev Charles Gibbs.

The judge, who analysed the case at hearings in the Family Division of the High Court in London, decided against jailing Gibbs, but ordered the sale of her house so that Mr Gibbs, who is in his 70s, could raise money to pay legal bills he had run up.

Gibbs said she had been the victim of a “miscarriage of justice” and wanted the Court of Appeal to consider the case, but a Court of Appeal judge has blocked her bid.

Lord Justice Baker, who considered a written application by Gibbs, concluded she has no basis for mounting a challenge to Mrs Justice Lieven’s decision.

Mr Gibbs, who in recent years has lived in the Isles of Scilly, says his ex-wife has repeatedly falsely accused him of abusing their now grown-up son.


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He said she had breached family court judges’ orders not to make such allegations and wanted her to be jailed for contempt of court.

Mrs Justice Lieven ruled in his favour but concluded jailing Gibbs would not halt the “vendetta”.

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Another judge had imposed a nine-month jail term, following an earlier application by Mr Gibbs, three years ago.

Mrs Justice Lieven said Gibbs had spent four-and-a-half months in jail but “recommenced” sending emails as soon as she came out.

The judge said she had decided the best way to protect Mr Gibbs was to publish a written ruling which showed “the truth”.

Gibbs had publicised “the most lurid allegations” to as “wide an audience as possible”, she said.

Her behaviour had a “devastating impact” on Mr Gibbs’s quality of life and his ministry, she added.

“I have come to the clear conclusion that Mrs Gibbs’s allegations are not true,” said Mrs Justice Lieven.

“She has for many years been convinced of the truth of the allegations and has been conducting an obsessive campaign against her ex-husband.”

The judge added: “She frequently distorts the truth and alleges that various people have believed her when on examination this is not true.”

Mrs Justice Lieven said Mr Gibbs had run up more than £30,000 in lawyers’ bills taking legal action against his ex-wife.

Gibbs said she had “no intention” of paying those bills.

The judge said a sale of Gibbs’s house, estimated to be worth more than £200,000, was the only way Mr Gibbs would recover his costs.

She said there was no evidence of “any other resources”.

Gibbs wanted appeal judges to consider information in the hands of police.

Mrs Justice Lieven explained in her ruling how, in separate proceedings, Gibbs had been arrested in March 2018 “for breach” of a non-molestation order.

Gibbs appeared before Judge Stephen Holt at Norwich Crown Court but in July 2019 the Crown Prosecution Service said it was offering no evidence and Gibbs was acquitted.

Mrs Justice Lieven said Gibbs subsequently had email exchanges with Judge Holt.

Judge Holt had referred to “Norfolk police evidence” and told Gibbs in an email: “There is now clear evidence that you have been telling the truth all along. I saw the evidence and that was why the CPS offered no evidence against you and why I ordered a not guilty verdict.”

Mrs Justice Lieven said Gibbs relied “very heavily” on Judge Holt’s comments.

But she said she had seen more “material” than Judge Holt and was in “a significantly better position to reach conclusions” about Gibbs’s allegations.

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