September 23, 2016
Source: The Telegraph
A former BBC actress has been cleared of abducting her child in an international custody battle.
The star, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been accused of fleeing Australia with the child despite agreeing to start a new family life in Sydney with the father.
Following a two-day hearing at the High Court, Deputy High Court Judge Alexander Verdan QC dismissed the abduction allegation.
He said: “The clear conclusion I have reached is that the father’s application should be dismissed.
“I do not find the child was an habitual residual in Australia and therefore the mother’s removal was not an abduction.”
The woman’s former partner, a documentary maker, had taken the case to the Family Division of the High Court after she left the country with the child.
The judge said he would detail reasons for his decision in a written judgement to be handed down next week.
The couple had met in Africa during the filming of a television programme.
They had a long-distance relationship, meeting in between filming commitments. The pair had a child together in Britain three years later.
When the actress became pregnant, she agreed to permanently move to Sydney to start a family life and to apply for Australian citizenship for their baby, the father had claimed.
She later resigned from the BBC and moved to Australia a year later. After moving there, she allegedly disappeared four days later after sending her partner a cryptic message reading: “I know everything.”
The father contacted police and later discovered that she had left the country seven days after arriving.
He had relied on the 1980 Hague Convention on international child abduction to try to gain access to his child.
He was relying on the grounds that the agreement to permanently move to Australia meant his child was legally habitually resident in the country.
The actress claims that she was visiting Sydney on an extended holiday and had booked a return flight.
The Hague Convention on child abduction requires that legal decisions on the custody of a child should be decided by a court in a country where the child is considered to be legally habitually resident.
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