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“Plainly dishonest” father jailed again after failing to return his missing daughter


An Egyptian man jailed for failing to reveal the whereabouts of his missing daughter has had his sentence extended for the third time.

Thirty-five year old Tamer Salama took daughter Elsa from his English ex-wife during a visit to Egypt in December 2011. Naomi Button, from Bramley in Leeds, has not seen the six year-old since. She is believed to be living with members of his family somewhere in the country.

Shortly after Elsa went missing, Salama returned to England to resume teacher training and was arrested.

His sentence for contempt of court was renewed in January this year, and again in July. Returning him to jail this week, Mr Justice Holman dubbed him “shifty, evasive and plainly dishonest” and noted that Salama “has now been detained in prison continuously since 5 January 2012”.

The judge added:

“It is quite clear that he has very bitter feelings indeed with regard both to his wife and also the English legal system. Again and again, he said that he has no communication with any member of his family other than his brother Amr, and that he simply is unable to comply.”

The judge continued:

“…it was very clear to me from those answers that there is simply a determination in this case by the father not himself to take any orders from this court and not in any way to respect and obey the orders of this court. During the course of this hearing he was repeatedly to say… that he does not accept the jurisdiction of this court.”

He concluded:

“I am left in no doubt at all that the father knows a great deal more of the current whereabouts and circumstances of his child than he is willing to reveal. I am also in no doubt that, if he chose to do so, he could send instructions to Egypt requiring whoever it is who is caring for the child, to now cause her return to England. He has not made the slightest attempt to do so.”

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  1. Luke says:

    I think this Judgement looks to be correct – but does anybody seriously believe the Judge would go for gaol in this case if the woman was the one who was the guilty one here ?

  2. Stephanie Bamberger says:


    Yes, there was a very publicized case in the US back in the late ’80’s where a mother was jailed for civil contempt for refusing to turn over her daughter (she alleged sexual abuse by father). You can Google it – mother’s name was Dr. Elizabeth Morgan. These cases seem to be rare in the US, although there are people who have been jail for civil contempt for failing to comply with divorce orders. In California, there is a cap on jail time for civil contempt – 12 months maximum. And yes, I have seen cases where moms went to jail for contempt, usually for bad behavior in the courtroom, but occasionally for non-payment of child support.


  3. Luke says:

    Stephanie, I’m not saying it never happens where a woman is gaoled – everything under the sun has happened at – what I am saying is if the genders had been reversed in this case do you honestly think the mother would have gone to gaol for nearly 2 years and counting ?

  4. Tulsa Divorce Lawyer Matt Ingham says:

    As a general rule of thumb, lying to the judge is a very stupid move that carries with it severe consequences like jail time and even prison time for perjury.

  5. Stephanie Bamberger says:

    Luke, In a case like the one described above? Yes, I do believe a judge would have sent a mom to jail for withholding the child in these circumstances. This is a pretty extreme case; most parents (moms & dads) give up the location of their children in a relatively short time as jail is not pleasant. There is an ongoing case in Sacramento right now with a mom in jail partly for not revealing the location of her son to the Juvenile Court (Child Protective Services) [she is also in jail on probation violations for drugs]. I suspect her son is dead and that is why she does not want to say where he is – she knows she’ll face murder charges. All of these cases are very sad for the children. I wish these parents would put the well-being of their children above their hatred for the other parent.

  6. Luke says:

    Matt, in specific circumstances that rule of thumb completely breaks down – for instance the mother lying about domestic violence is an extremely effective tactic in custody disputes.

    There is no realistic chance that the mother will be punished for claiming it but there is a decent chance that she will get what she wants as a result of claiming it.

  7. Luke says:

    Stephanie, you are talking about the USA, it is not the same as here – it might be that the courts would gaol a mother here in these circumstances – but I’m not convinced. We have cases here where the mother has breached contact rules for over a year quite flagrantly and nothing is done except for further admonitions from the court. It takes a loooooooong time before a mother is ever seriously threatened with gaol in cases in the UK.

  8. Andrew says:

    Failing to comply with an order for contact ought to be as sure a way to go to prison as is going to the house when you are ordered to stay away.

  9. Singledad says:

    ” As a general rule of thumb, lying to the judge is a very stupid move that carries with it severe consequences like jail time and even prison time for perjury.”

    Except for in family law proceedings when the person committing perjury is a woman. Here as a rule of thumb they lie without the slightest risk of consequences.

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