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19 NOV 2012

ABDUCTION: X v Y and Z Police Force, A, B and C (By Their Children’s Guardian) [2012] EWHC 2838 (Fam)

(Family Division, Baker J, 16 October 2012)

The three children, aged between 7 and 13, were abducted by their father from their mother's care in Australia and brought to the UK. Proceedings were initiated under the Child Abduction and Custody Act 1985 and the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980.

The father raised two defences. He asserted, with full support from his employers, Z police force, that a summary return of the children would place them at a grave risk of harm or otherwise place them in an intolerable situation. That risk arose because the father had worked as an undercover police officer for many years but after being relocated to Australia circumstances arose which would render it unsafe for him and his family to remain there until extensive work had been completed by the police force including a detailed risk assessment.

The father also asserted that one of the children objected to a return and it was accepted by the mother that if the court decided he shouldn't be returned then the three children should not be separated.

The court accepted the evidence of the Z police force as to the level of risk posed to the father and the process that needed to be followed before the family could safely be returned to Australia. That process could take a number of months and the Australian authorities would not be in a position to impose protection procedures in the interim.

The objections to a return by one of the children as expressed to the Cafcass officer were accepted although it was clear that the father's manipulative behaviour had influenced his thinking. However, he had a strong objection to a return which was his genuinely held view and was not significantly influenced by the father.

Application for summary return refused.

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