(Family Division; Black J; 10 October 2007)
At a fact-finding hearing in the course of private law proceedings concerning the residence of the children and contact, the judge found that the mother, who had come to the jurisdiction from India at the age of 19 to enter into an arranged marriage with the father, had been treated badly by the father's family, and not permitted to take care of the two children. The judge found that in retaliation the mother's family had embarked on an aggressive campaign against the father's family, which, in turn, had questioned the mother's capacity as wife and mother in order to ensure that she did not obtain care of the children. The judge commented unfavourably on the parties' failure to pursue production of police material, or other independent evidence such as telephone records; in a case in which there were clearly some deliberate lies the lack of objective evidence had made it exceptionally difficult to make findings of fact. The judge invited the local authority to think very carefully before condemning the mother for failing to protect herself and children within the father's household, given her status as an outsider within a cohesive and forceful family, and as a stranger to the country.