Domestic abuse victim blasts Ministry of Justice as she battles chiefs over 'safe address' law
A DOMESTIC violence victim who was threatened with jail if she didn’t disclose her “safe” address in court has blasted a statement from the Ministry of Justice saying it puts the safety and security of domestic abuse sufferers first.
Eve Thomas, from Astley Bridge, suffered 21 years of physical and emotional abuse from her ex-husband Michael Aldred, who was convicted of battery in 2011 and given a suspended sentence.
But in an unrelated civil court matter in August, when she refused to disclose her “flee” or “safe” address — which is often issued to victims of abuse — she was threatened with a prison sentence.
Ms Thomas later paid the £929 of outstanding debt and no further action was taken, but since then an online petition to prevent victims of abuse and rape from revealing their address in court — which is supported by human rights barrister David Malone — has already received more than 1,000 signatures.
The 45-year-old believes her experience has revealed a massive flaw in the law, and that staff at all courts should be “extensively trained” in how to deal with victims such as herself.
She now has requested a meeting with the Ministry of Justice to discuss her case.
Ms Thomas said: “I strongly oppose their statement saying the security and safety of victims comes first — it does not and that can be proven by my case.
“So I, along with human rights barrister David Malone, threw the gauntlet down and tweeted the MOJ to get a meeting set up.”
Ms Thomas, who campaigns for victims of domestic violence through charity One Voice, says her experience made her feel victimised.
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “It is wrong to claim that victims of domestic violence are required to disclose their addresses in court. The courts regularly handle extremely sensitive cases and have a range of measures to support vulnerable court users, putting their safety and security first.
“But in rare cases, where victims of domestic violence are also debtors in small claims cases — and refuse to pay their debt or comply with attempts by the court to arrange payment plans — judges are left with no option but to take action that allows the debt to be enforced. Such action will always be at the discretion of a judge, taking account of individual circumstances.”
Sandra Horley, chief executive at Refuge said: “Many of the women we support access the courts and many are asked to disclose their address details. This is incredibly dangerous and simply gives the perpetrator a quick and easy way to find his ex- partner.”