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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

21 MAY 2013

ABDUCTION: R (C) v Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police [2013] EWHC 1174 (Admin)

(Queen's Bench Division, Laws LJ, Owen J, 20 March 2013)

When the parents of three children, aged 15, 12 and 5, separated they entered into an agreement whereby the children would reside with their mother. However, the father, an Italian national who also had Tunisian and United States nationality, removed the children from their mother's care and took them to Tunisia. The children were made wards of court and an order for their immediate return was made. The father was arrested upon arrival at Heathrow Airport on suspicion of child abduction. He denied the offence and was released on conditional bail.

In family proceedings the High Court judge declared that the children had been unlawfully removed without the mother's consent from the UK which was their place of habitual residence. In the meantime the father disappeared and failed to answer police bail.

The mother sought to bring judicial review proceedings in respect of the police inaction and the failure to charge the father with child abduction when all of the ingredients of the offence were made out. She claimed that her Art 8 rights under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 1950 had been infringed.

The police had been faced with conflicting accounts and were still carrying out further investigations. At present the police did not believe that there was sufficient evidence to enable them to charge the father. In line with the authorities of Blackburn [1968] 2 QB 118 and Hill v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire [1989] 1 AC 53 the court would be extremely slow to interfere with a judgment as to whether or not a criminal charge should be brought against an individual. There was no arguable error of law such as should engage the court's supervisory jurisdiction.

Permission to bring judicial review proceedings was refused.


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