Four Latvian children must be returned to the UK, a Family Court judge has ruled.
All of the children had lived in the country since 2011, so they were declared ‘habitually resident’ in England. Last month, one of them arrived at school with marks on his neck and thigh. When questioned about them, he claimed that his father was responsible for the injury to his neck and his mother caused the one on his thigh.
The father denied causing the marks and said the injuries had occurred under “unclear accidental circumstances” and the mother blamed “an incident in school”.
However, the local authority was not convinced and applied for an Emergency Protection Order. Under section 44 of the Children Act 1989, such orders allow local councils to temporarily take children into care if there are concerns for their safety.
His Honour Judge Duggan approved the order, ruling that there was “reasonable cause to believe that two of these children have suffered inflicted injuries in their parents’ care”.
Despite this order, the local authority was unable to take the children into care. The family had travelled to Northern Ireland and then to Dublin. Judge Duggan said the available information indicated that the family had booked a flight to Latvia.
The judge ordered that the family not leave Ireland unless it was to return to the UK, which was “the only place with jurisdiction to consider [the children’s] safety”.
Blackburn with Darwen BC v P (Flight to Latvia) is available online here.
Photo by Simon Allardice via Flickr