April 15, 2024

A writer’s anxiety about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “very plainly” had an impact on his ex-partner, a family court judge has ruled.

The man was a member of an organisation known as the “North Atlantic Fellas Organisation” (“NAFO”), Recorder Simon Rowbotham heard.

He worked with “NAFO” to “combat online Russian propaganda”, a private family court hearing in Northampton was told.

Recorder Rowbotham said the man’s obsession with “NAFO” was a “feature” of family life.

Detail of the case has emerged in a ruling by the judge published online.

The man and woman, who had lived together in Northamptonshire, are embroiled in a family court dispute over the care of their two children.

Recorder Rowbotham said he had been asked to make rulings on a number of allegations the woman had made about the man’s behaviour.

Northampton court signNorthampton court sign

The hearing was held in private in Northampton [PA Media]

The woman said she had been a victim of “controlling and coercive behaviour”.

One of her complaints related to his anxiety about Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Her ex-partner, a “writer and researcher”, disputed allegations made against him.

The judge said the children at the centre of the case could not be identified in reports of his ruling.


Recorder Rowbotham upheld some of the woman’s allegations and dismissed others.

He said there was evidence of a “pattern of controlling behaviour” which was “subtle in places” but ” nonetheless insidious”.

The woman had described her former partner’s “ability to become obsessive” over certain topics.

Recorder Rowbotham said he had formed the same “impression”.

Vladimir Putin talking to pilots Vladimir Putin talking to pilots

Russian President Vladimir Putin talks to military pilots [Reuters]

“The main example concerns the father’s anxiety around the Russian invasion of Ukraine and his involvement with an organisation known as the North Atlantic Fellas Organisation (“NAFO”), with whom it appears to be common ground the father worked to combat online Russian propaganda,” said the judge.

“He describes this as a group ‘using humour to fight misinformation on Twitter’.”

Volodymyr Zelenskiy sitting at looking at papersVolodymyr Zelenskiy sitting at looking at papers

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy [Reuters]

Recorder Rowbotham said on one occasion the man had told the woman, at 03:00, that a Ukrainian power plant had been shelled.

“The point here is not that the father was anxious about Russian aggression; he was certainly not alone in that,” said the judge.

“What troubles me is the impact this very plainly had on the mother.”

The judge said: “Having read and heard the accounts of both parties concerning the father’s involvement with NAFO, I prefer on balance the mother’s account that the father became obsessed and dedicated much time to this enterprise, at times drawing the children in.”

He added: “Even allowing for some exaggeration by the mother, this was a sufficient feature of family life that it was noticed by others.”

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