PROBE CALL IN CHILD CUSTODY ROW
08:50 - 21 January 2008
An inquiry is being demanded today into how
the courts, the legal system and the authorities have handled
an Aberdeen father's seven-year fight for the custody of his
North-east SNP MSP Nigel Don said he wants a
wide-ranging investigation into the case in which the father's
estranged wife took his child away to England seven years
ago - and how an English court has claimed jurisdiction despite
an order in a Scottish court forbidding the child's removal.
Mr Don said in a statement last night that he
wants an investigation into the handling of the case by police
forces, social work author-ities, voluntary organisations
and the courts on both sides of the border.
He said: "My view is that this man and
his daughter have suffered an injustice. Firstly, his child
was wrongly taken from him with the help of the police and
social work authorities. She later returned, but then left
again with the help of a national voluntary organisation.
"The English courts wrongly granted his
wife the right to live in England with the child. He was given
no opportunity to put his case. Then when he tried to see
his child in England, he was arrested.
"This man has been fighting in the Scottish
and English courts for seven years to get his daughter back.
His business has gone, his health has suffered and he now
lives in relative poverty.
"He has been the victim of legal mistakes
and a system which in practice favours mothers over fathers.
And he has had considerable diffi-culty finding solicitors
and advocates willing or able to represent him."
A hearing is due shortly in Edinburgh in a bid
to sort out the wrangle.
Mr Don said the father is fighting the Passport
Agency's decision to obey an order of the English courts to
award the daughter a passport.
The MSP has written to Scottish Community Safety
Minister Fergus Ewing asking him to launch the inquiry and
work jointly with Bridget Prentice, a junior UK justice minister.
Mr Don has also sent a summary of the case to
Lord Gill, who is currently reviewing the operation of Scotland's
He said: "I believe there are many lessons
to be learned from this. My view is that family law is too
complicated, legal services are too expensive, the courts
are failing fathers and their children, and the misery of
family break-up is unnecessarily extended."
Ms Prentice's involvement follows a Commons
debate on the case called by Aberdeen North Labour MP Frank
Doran in which he said: "A young child has been denied
contact with her father for several years."
The father said he appreciated the call for
He said: "At the end of the day the
only way this injustice to my daughter and myself can be highlighted
is by action like this. It is the only way I can seek redress."
read article here