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(Family Division; Munby J; 9 July 2009)
The Polish parents separated and the children went to live with mother. The father refused to return the children after a visit. The mother obtained the Polish equivalent of an interim residence order, but the father still did not return the children. The Polish court made an order for children to be transferred to mother, but the father refused to do so and removed the children from Poland. Having received a welfare report describing the emotional harm caused to children by the father's attitude to the mother, the Polish court made an order removing the father's parental responsibility. Shortly before the father's appeal was dismissed, the mother discovered that he had removed the children to England. The mother did not take any proceedings under Hague Convention until she was informed of the Convention by a Polish judge. A location order and a European Arrest Warrant for arrest of the father were issued. The mother came to England and the children were placed with her.
The children had now been in England for 20 months and opposed returning to Poland.
In unusual step to further abbreviate the Hague application, the court prepared to make a summary order for the return of the children without allowing father to prepare full defence. There was no breach of Art 6 if the court granted summary relief on basis that there was no realistic defence. Even if father were to succeed in establishing one of defences, and the court was very sceptical that he could do so, the likelihood of the court choosing not to return the children was remote in the extreme as the father's prospect of resisting extradition was low. The children were currently living in hotel with the mother, which was only viable for a few days. It was not in the children's interests to return to the father's partner.
Summary return ordered without consulting children as to their views.
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