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the Applicant Mother
MS CLARE RENTON (Counsel) (instructed by Blavo & Co. Solicitors) for
the First Respondent Father
THE THIRD RESPONDENT appeared in Person
THE SECOND AND FOURTH RESPONDENTS were not present or represented
Crown Copyright ©
MR JUSTICE KEEHAN:
"74. In describing the statutory legal context within which decisions as to the private law arrangements for a child are to be made, I have stressed that it is the parents, rather than the court or more generally the state, who are the primary decision makers and actors for determining and delivering the upbringing that the welfare of their child requires. I have stressed that, along with the rights, powers and authority of a parent, come duties and responsibilities which must be discharged in a manner which respects similarly held rights, powers, duties and responsibilities of the other parent where parental responsibility is shared.
75. In all aspects of life, whilst some duties and responsibilities may be a pleasure to discharge, others may well be unwelcome and a burden. Whilst parenting in many respects brings joy, even in families where life is comparatively harmonious, the responsibility of being a parent can be tough. Where parents separate the burden for each and every member of the family group can be, and probably will be, heavy. It is not easy, indeed it is tough, to be a single parent with the care of a child. Equally, it is tough to be the parent of a child for whom you no longer have the day to day care and with whom you no longer enjoy the ordinary stuff of everyday life because you only spend limited time with your child. Where all contact between a parent and a child is prevented, the burden on that parent will be of the highest order. Equally, for the parent who has the primary care of a child, to send that child off to spend time with the other parent may, in some cases, be itself a significant burden; it may, to use modern parlance, be 'a very big ask'. Where, however, it is plainly in the best interests of a child to spend time with the other parent then, tough or not, part of the responsibility of the parent with care must be the duty and responsibility to deliver what the child needs, hard though that may be.
76. Where parental responsibility is shared by a child's parents, the statute is plain ... that each of those parents, and both of them, share 'duties' and 'responsibilities' in relation to the child, as well as 'rights … powers … and authority'. Where all are agreed, as in the present case, that it is in the best interests of a child to have a meaningful relationship with both parents, the courts are entitled to look to each parent to use their best endeavours to deliver what their child needs, hard or burdensome or downright tough that may be. The statute places the primary responsibility for delivering a good outcome for a child upon each of his or her parents, rather than upon the courts or some other agency.
77. Where there are significant difficulties in the way of establishing safe and beneficial contact, the parents share the primary responsibility of addressing those difficulties so that, in time, and maybe with outside help, the child can benefit from being in a full relationship with each parent.
78. Parents, both those who have primary care and those who seek to spend time with their child, have a responsibility to do their best to meet their child's needs in relation to the provision of contact, just as they do in every other regard. It is not, at face value, acceptable for a parent to shirk that responsibility and simply to say 'no' to reasonable strategies designed to improve the situation in this regard."
"It is unspeakable cruelty, heartless and unhuman for not allowing me to see and have contact with my own children which I was caring for them. I am greatly sorry for what happened and I regretted everything I did wrong. I was betrayed very badly and I was angry for what was happening to my life.
As you know that I am not a clever person and I made a mistake. I was very wrong and very naive for what I did. If I had any options to change things, I would have changed everything. But I was in a no-win situation. I could not do much and I thought whatever I was doing, it was for my children's best interests.
You have got what you wanted. Please stop punishing me even more, not allowing me to see my babies. Now I am a very breaking man with full of regrets, forgiveful and forgetful. I am looking like a 50-year-old man now. I am devastated for what happened and very distressed to be going through this painful process.
I have forgiven everyone for what they did to me and I am moving on. Please allow me and help me to forget what happened. More punishment makes me more angry and stubborn and punishment is revengeness and not forgiveness."
"Surely you can see, I am doing all I can to fix this family and ensuring it doesn't break. It is heartbreaking this could be acceptable and it makes no sense as I, nor my brother, have done anything to be in such a position."
I should clarify that the reference there to 'his brother' is to his brother, HH, and not to the father, JH. But I regret to find that that clearly demonstrates that AH has no recognition of the role that he played in the abduction of the children and of the very real concerns that the mother, rightly, in my judgment, has that he would work with his brother to secure the ends that the father wants to achieve.