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Political refugee allowed to appeal Iran holiday for daughter

An Iranian political refugee has been given permission to appeal a decision to allow his daughter to be taken on holiday to Iran.

In Re H, the child’s Iranian mother previously received approval from the Newcastle-upon-Tyne County Court to take the youngster to meet members of her family.

The father opposed the holiday, claiming that his child was at risk “because of his previous political activity in Iran”. He added that some of his relatives from Sweden were once detained for six months “for no apparent reason” during a visit there.

He was also concerned by the possibility that the mother would remain in Iran, leaving him with no access to his daughter.

The three year old child was the subject of earlier court proceedings, when a judge made a residence order in favour of the mother. A residence order determines who a child will live with.

Under the terms of the residence order, the mother had permission to temporarily move her daughter out of the country but was prohibited from taking her to Iran.

At the time the residence order was made, the mother had agreed that if her daughter were to meet her family, she could do so in Turkey rather than Iran. In the Court of Appeal, she explained that she agreed to the residence order as a whole but not to some of the individual stipulations.

The original judge ruled that the risk of harm to the child was “sufficiently low” to allow the trip without any safeguards.

The father then took the case to the Court of Appeal, citing the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) guidance on travel to Iran, which advises against all but essential travel.

Further passages say the Iranian security forces are suspicious of people with British connections, also noting that the country does not recognise dual citizenship. This means that Iran would deny the British government responsibility for any British-Iranians.

Lord Justice Ryder said the sections cited were “independent of the mother’s intentions or of the father’s assertions” and needed to be addressed in the judge’s reasoning.

He went on to say the role of the court in this case was to consider the “magnitude of the risk” that allowing the holiday would entail and the consequences if the child were not returned.

Lord Justice Ryder concluded that the appeal should be allowed so the case could be heard by a judge of the High Court.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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