Almost hourly last week I followed yet another child-snatching drama, as bizarre and disturbing as any I have reported. So irked were the social workers of an English council when, six months ago, a mother and her 14-year-old son evaded their clutches by fleeing to Ireland that they hit on a cunning ruse. They tracked down the womanâ€™s former husband, who had not seen his son for seven years, and paid for him to go to Dublin to front a case for â€œchild abductionâ€, on the grounds that his son had been taken abroad without his consent.
The judge, relying on a document supplied at the last minute by the English social workers, which the mother and son were not allowed to see or challenge, ruled â€“ in defiance of the UN Convention on Childrenâ€™s Rights and a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights â€“ that the boy must be returned to England. He was so distraught that he attempted suicide, spending two days in hospital before waiting in council care to be deported.