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Louisa Gothard
Louisa Gothard
Senior Solicitor, Head of Family Law
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CONTEMPT: Button v Salama [2013] EWHC 2974 (Fam)
Date:15 OCT 2013
Law Reporter

(Family Division, Roderic Wood J, 2 July 2013)

The British mother and Egyptian father took their 6-year-old child to Egypt for a holiday during which they had a disagreement which prompted the father to remove the child and place her with his family members in Egypt. The child had since remained in Egypt.

When the mother initiated proceedings to secure her return various orders were made including making the child a ward of court. The father had failed to return the child. In addition he was required to provide details of the child's current situation in Egypt and to permit the mother and child to have Skype contact. The father failed to comply and claimed his family members were refusing to co-operate and give him any information as to the child's whereabouts.

During evidence the father was found to be evasive and dishonest. His account that compliance with the orders was beyond his control was disbelieved by the judge. He was found to be capable of complying with the orders but refused to do so. He was in clear breach of the court orders.

The father had so far been in custody for 18 months but these breaches were treated as fresh contempts. The judge held it would not be disproportionate to sentence the father further on that basis. The appropriate sentence, given the father's appalling and continuing behaviour was four 6-month sentences, in respect of separate breaches, to run concurrently.