(Family Division, Parker J, 7 November 2013)
The father had failed to comply with a return order in respect of the four children, aged 12, 11, 8 and 3 to return the children to the UK from Pakistan. He claimed there were problems with obtaining a passport for the youngest child but the judge ordered either for him to send the older three children back and for him to return later with the youngest child or for them to all travel together.
The father and three older children returned while the youngest child remained in the care of the paternal grandparents. The older children had had some contact with the mother since their return but they remained fearful of her and their engagement with her was limited. The judge determined that the threshold had been crossed under s 31 of the Children Act 1989 due to the father's removal of the children and she rejected the father's claim that the mother had abandoned them but found that the father had sought to exclude the mother from their lives.
In considering an interim care order the judge concluded that the children had been used as pawns without regard to their emotional welfare by the father. He had only complied with the court order under the threat of a financial penalty. Daily contact would not be an improvement and would be distressing for the children.
An interim care order was granted with provision for the children to be removed as nothing else would do. The youngest child would be placed in the mother's care upon his return to the UK.