Published: 3rd October 2016
A former BBC actress, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has recently been cleared by a High Court judge of abducting her own child. After agreeing to begin a new life with the father in Sydney, she subsequently left the country with their child, leading the father to file a case of abduction against her with the Family division of the High Court.
The pair began a long-distance relationship after originally meeting whilst filming in Africa, and three years later had a child together. The pair would only see each other between their respective filming commitments, but the father claims that when the actress became pregnant, it was agreed that they would move to Australia and apply for Australian citizenship for their child.
The mother did indeed resign from the BBC and travelled to Australia a year later. However, four days after moving to her new place of residence she disappeared, after sending her partner a peculiar message reading: ‘I know everything.’ The father was then made aware by the police that the mother had left the country seven days after she arrived in Sydney.
He tried to gain access to his child by citing the 1980 Hague Convention, which would request the return of the child. The legislation, however, states that the custody of a child should be decided by a court in the country that the child resides in. As he claimed that they had agreed to begin a new life in Australia, he believed that their child was a legal habitual resident of the country, which was incorrect on the basis of the Hague Convention. The actress had actually booked a return flight to Australia, which supported her claim that she was in Sydney on an extended holiday.
After a two-day hearing at the High Court, Deputy High Court Judge Alexander Verdan QC dismissed the allegation of abduction made by the father. He said that he would provide details of his decision in a written judgment, but did say: 'The clear conclusion I have reached is that the father’s application should be dismissed. I do not find the child was a habitual resident in Australia and therefore the mother’s removal was not abduction.'
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