Children ‘Used as Pawns’ in Parents’ International Struggle

Following an agonising international struggle between implacably opposed parents over the care of their four children – characterised by the father’s relentless efforts to poison their minds against their mother – the High Court has taken the ‘extraordinarily difficult decision’ to remove three of them into foster care.

The children, aged between 12 and three, had been kept in Pakistan, away from their mother, for about two and a half years before their father was constrained to return the three eldest to the UK. The youngest child had remained in Pakistan in the care of his elderly grandparents and the father had convinced them during their absence that their mother had deliberately abandoned them.

By the time of their return, the three oldest children’s minds had been turned against their mother to the extent that they were ‘in dreadful fear’ of her and had expressed the wish to have nothing to do with her, not even allowing her to touch them. The father was absolutely determined to exclude the mother from the children’s lives and had shown no recognition of having behaved inappropriately.

The Court found that it was ‘quite apparent that these children have been used as pawns, as weapons, in the father’s battle against the mother and that no regard whatsoever had been paid to their emotional welfare’.  The father had ‘shown himself incapable of treating these children as independent, emotionally sensitive beings’.

Whilst  acknowledging that the children’s own wishes and feelings deserved respect, the Court found that their views were based on a false premise, having been infected by their father and members of his family who were ‘intimately engaged’ in his campaign to undermine their mother.

Reaching the ‘difficult and painful conclusion’ that the children’s welfare demanded their immediate removal into foster care, the Court also found that the youngest child should not be in the care of the father, or any member of his family, and directed that he should live with his mother on returning to the jurisdiction.