The Archers

As a family lawyer I can’t help but feel dismay at the current story line. I’ve found myself talking to Helen via the radio: get some help, confide in your friend, go and see a family lawyer.

The power games, the psychological manipulation, the undermining and isolating behaviour Rob has displayed is an all too familiar theme that will resonate with lawyers like me who specialise in matrimonial matters.

Given last night’s episode (spoiler alert) my heart sank because Helen’s situation has become far worse and it is less likely a family lawyer will be able to do anything to rescue her. She most likely needs a criminal lawyer as she faces the aftermath of yesterday’s event. For months, listeners have heard Helen and Rob’s relationship develop into an abusive one. Poor Helen had determined to leave but such was the overwhelming power that Rob had over her she now faces criminal charges.

The storyline has gripped many, possibly because the listener recognises a friend or family member, maybe even themselves, trapped in a relationship where the power imbalance is such that an individual feels helpless. If this is you, or someone you know, then urge them to get help.

Look at website to find a lawyer in your area who specialises in family matters. If you can call, explain immediately that it may be difficult for you to talk and that the utmost discretion is required with the telephone number being used to make the call. I say this because lawyers can be busy and getting through to a lawyer straight away is not always possible. Even saying something like “I’m like Helen from The Archers storyline” would give enough information for insight into the caller’s predicament.

For more information about domestic abuse and support look at:



Vanessa McMurtrie

Partner, Family

Vanessa trained and then qualified as a solicitor in 1991 with Hart Brown working in the Cobham office's family department for a decade. She then...

Vanessa McMurtrie -Partner

Partner, Family

Vanessa McMurtrie

Vanessa trained and then qualified as a solicitor in 1991 with Hart Brown working in the Cobham office's family department for a decade. She then worked for us on a part time consultancy basis while devoting more time to her family. During this period she was instrumental in implementing Hart Brown’s family department’s case management system and later, the quality system that led to the firm’s ISO 9001 accreditation.

In 2005 Vanessa returned to client work and joined Mackrell Turner Garrett where she stayed for ten years, before re-joining Hart Brown in 2015. Vanessa knows Woking and the surrounding area well and enhances the work covered at our Woking office as part of the family team.

Vanessa has been a Resolution member since 1991, committed to resolving disputes in a non-confrontational and constructive way. She has served on the Surrey Resolution committee since 2008. She is a Resolution accredited collaboratively trained lawyer and welcomes the opportunity to help separating couples adopt this process as an alternative to the more traditional options available.

Over the years, Vanessa has gained a wealth of experience in dealing with the legal aspects of personal relationships, not just those coming to an end, but new relationships, too, where a pre-nuptial or cohabitation agreement is required. She prides herself on being approachable and understanding as she helps her clients go through the legal process.