A judge was wrong to grant permission for a mother to take her daughter abroad, the Court of Appeal has ruled.
The case involved an estranged couple who had dual British and Iranian citizenship. They had a three-year-old daughter who lived with the mother. The father had unsupervised access.
The mother wanted to visit Iran for a holiday. She was granted a specific issue order by a County Court judge allowing her to take her daughter with her.
The child’s father opposed the decision. He was concerned that his ex-wife may be persuaded to stay in Iran. He was also worried that the political situation between Britain and Iran could lead to his daughter being in danger.
At the time, the official guidance from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office regarding travel to Iran stated that British nationals faced greater risks than nationals of other countries and that the security forces in Iran were suspicious of people with British connections.
The father had previously seen his Swedish relatives be detained for six months for no apparent reason when visiting Iran.
The Court of Appeal overturned the judge’s decision.
It said the judge had failed to recognise the risk that the mother would choose to stay, or be detained, in Iran. The potential consequences of this to the father would be considerable. He would not be able to exercise his parental responsibility should restrictions be placed on his ex-wife and daughter. He could also face complicated and lengthy legal proceedings to have his daughter returned to the UK.
The mother had not provided evidence of any safeguards to prevent such events taking place. Therefore the judge had been wrong in granting her permission to take her daughter to Iran.
The case required more detailed examination and would need to be referred to the High Court.
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