Judge slams father who abducted child

A senior judge has imposed swingeing restrictions on a "selfish" Jewish father who abducted his daughter and fled to Israel in the midst of a bitter residency row.

The father and mother divorced in the mid-1990s following 13 years of marriage and a prolonged battle for custody of their disabled daughter.

In September last year, a High Court judge ruled that the best solution was that their daughter - who is in her 20s but lacks legal capacity to decide which of her parents she should live with - ought to move to a residential college placement, with regular contact for both her mother and father.

Her father instead took her to Israel the following month, from where he sent a series of emails to the judge urging him to be "a mensch" and take his side in the row.

It was only after a combined effort by the Supreme Court in Israel and the courts in the UK that the girl and her father were finally returned to England earlier this year.

The High Court Family Division heard that, in one email from Israel, the father told the judge: "You 'implore me to reconsider and bring my daughter home' - I take it by that you mean home to her mother - No, never!"

He told the judge: "So now it's time to be a mensch. Mensch, means 'a person of integrity and honour'. The opposite of a mensch is an unmensch, meaning: an utterly cruel or evil person. The choice is yours."

Lord Justice Munby, explaining his decision to impose "a raft of restrictive injunctions" on the father, said: "I recognise that they are swingeing in their effect... I am left with no option but to put in place the protective measures which, I am satisfied, are essential if the father is to be prevented from similar sabotage in future."

He said: "The immediate imperatives are to enable the daughter to become settled… (and) to ensure that she is safe and is not again abducted by her father."

Lord Justice Munby hoped that the father in time would behave in a way to allow the measures to be relaxed.

But he concluded: "I must err, if at all, on the side of caution. If, in the result, this all presses hard on the father, then he has to realise that he has only himself to blame.

"My purpose, I stress, is not to be punitive but merely to ensure that his daughter is safe and happy and able to enjoy the family life …that he so ruthlessly and selfishly denied her."

    Last updated: 1:39pm, July 8 2010