A schoolgirl has been allowed to stay in Britain despite the fact that her mother violated international law when she brought the girl and her younger sister back to the UK.
In a landmark ruling, the judges at the Court of Appeal ruled that the girl was entitled to make up her own mind as to where she wanted to live.
In August this year, the girls’ father used the Hague Convention to secure a High Court order that required their return to North America, so that their futures could be decided there.
The Court of Appeal heard that the girl had extensive family and friends in her home town of Middlesbrough. She had made a statement insisting that she would refuse to travel to Canada to live with her father, who had originally gone there to find work.
Before deciding the case, the Court conducted an interview with the elder girl, which is highly unusual. One of the Appeal Court judges said he was impressed ‘by the cogency of her reasons’ for rejecting a life in Canada.
The children’s mother had travelled to Canada and used the pretext of a theatre visit to ‘abduct’ the two girls. The Court was critical of her actions, which had caused significant problems with her former partner and had continued to have repercussions thereafter. Despite this, the Court overturned the High Court order to return the children to America on the basis of concerns that their wishes hadn’t sufficiently been taken into consideration by the lower court.