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Thursday, 27 March 2014


The identities of the family members in this piece are concealed pending an Appeal Court hearing tomorrow
Would you send a 1 year-old American baby girl from peaceful UK to war-zone Ukraine?
This is the issue before HH Lady Justice Black tomorrow in the Court of Appeal in a custody battle between an American father and a Ukrainian mother, both long-term resident in UK. The mother has been granted permission to take their daughter permanently to the Ukraine and the father is contesting that.
It first fell to LJ Black to consider the possible risk to the baby at 2 pm on Wednesday 19th February as the Ukrainian crisis was building up to its bloody zenith and with Mr Justice Hayden's Leave to Remove order about to go live at 4 pm.
LJ Justice Black found that while she couldn't ignore the situation in the Ukraine, there were other reasons for reconsidering the case and granted a further stay. She then took the case into her chambers on Monday 3rd March and will be hearing it orally tomorrow Thursday 13th March in Court 72 at 2 pm, B4/2014/0514 Baby K.
The father (F) applying for Permission to Appeal against M J Hayden's Order in favour of the mother (M) was for the first 9 months of their baby girl's (B) life her main carer. M had never had any desire to have children and when she fell pregnant she wanted to have an abortion. However her Russian Ukrainian parents/the maternal grandparents (MGPs) persuaded her to keep the baby. It would appear that M's mother/maternal grandmother (MGM) was already planning to raise the baby herself in the Ukraine.
M rejected B at birth. "Take it away, I don't want to see it" was M's first reaction to her new-born, as filmed by F and then refused to sleep in the same room as Baby K or have little to do with her. According to the Housekeeper and others, F and the au pair gave primary care to Baby K until she was brutally taken from F, as I will discuss below.
MGM is said to have Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy and appears to exercise total control both over her daughter and her husband/maternal grandfather (MGP). The High court made two orders for M to produce her medical records from the Ukraine, so as this could be investigated; however, M refused and never supplied these documents, which in turn did not allow the Judge to see any of the picture of the years of abuse to M and her brother.
From the start of F and M's relationship in 2010 the MGPs who are very wealthy have been interfering in this erstwhile happy couple's life and have been out to destroy their relationship. While recognising that M and F were very much in love and that F took very good care of M, nevertheless they made it plain they did not approve of the relationship and forced her to choose between him and them. When she chose F, they cut her off financially, bought the company that F worked for, and continued to pressurise the couple until M and F separated.
For as long as M was alone with F in London far away from her parents she and F would get along fine but whenever the MGPs came to London to visit the relationship would instantly deteriorate.
M's father/maternal grandfather (MGF) is an extremely wealthy property owner and businessman in the Ukraine with assets in other countries too. In the spring of 2013 he sent shadowy third parties to London to stalk and threaten F in the vicinity of his and M's home. During August 2013 the nuisance escalated into actual physical violence against F while F, M & B were on holiday in Bulgaria. Prior to arranging the holiday M had given F an assurance that the MGPs who part-owned the holiday complex where they were to stay would NOT be joining them on the holiday but when they arrived at the airport in Bulgaria, the MGPs were waiting. Tensions developed and the couple had a tiff during the course of which M became violent, scratching and hitting F, then she called up her parents who were on another floor of the complex. The MGPs came running from the elevator and MGF punched F in the face while he was holding B causing him to fall and the baby to hit her head. MGF then continued to punch F in the back while he was on the ground with the result that he had to spend several days in hospital with a bleeding kidney. While MGF was punching F, MGM forcefully ripped B from his arms, scratching him with her fingernails and leaving deep wounds and now permanent scars on the right ribcage of F. All of this was caught on CCTV; however, when M provided this from the resort, the CCTV footage had blatantly been edited.
F recovered but a few days later his car-tyre was slashed with a knife and further damage done to the car the following day, as a result of which he moved to a different hotel in the town for his own safety. By now he had no doubt that the MGPs wanted him out of the way so they could abduct B, hence he locked B's passports in the room safe without divulging the combination. When M found out that F had placed them in the safe, M had resort security open the safe citing that the MGPs were owners of the holiday complex. Later the MGPs booked tickets for M and themselves to fly back to London together with B. F was not informed about this but being already suspicious had alerted the police and border control, however no action was taken - Bulgarian border control would not intervene in the case of a non-Bulgarian baby, they said in their written reply.
On the evening of the MGPs', M and Bs' flight back to London with F not knowing they were about to fly out, F was asked to babysit B and duly came over to the complex from his hotel. Upon the return of M, F began to head back to his hotel but just outside complex gates he was set upon by 3 thugs who bound his hands behind his back, beat him and told him to stay away from MGM and her family and forget about B if he wanted to live long enough to have more children. They then stabbed him with a knife and continued to beat him unconscious. He came round and was tended to by security guards; however, they refused to call the police or ambulance; he had to do this from his own mobile phone with the assistance of passers-by from the same resort. While waiting for ambulance and police, resort security called MGF who came to see him bleeding on the ground. MGF just looked at him and smiled until the ambulance arrived. This was caught on CCTV. Once F was put into the ambulance and on his way to the hospital, the MGPs, M & B got into their car to go to Sophia Airport, a 4-6 hour drive away (an incredible strain on such a small child.)
In September M applied to the court for an ex-parte non-molestation order using a witness statement in which M admitted in court she had made major false allegations. Since receiving this order, B has been in exclusive care of the MGPs & M with F being permitted contact a maximum of 1.5 hours, once per week until November, when the Judge ordered contact be increased to twice per week. Despite the orders of the High Court, M has manipulated the situation to curtail contact so dramatically, that B has only been able to see her Father about 50% of the time prescribed by the court.
M now wishes to return with B to live with her parents permanently in Kiev, at which point F will have no further contact with his daughter. F has been told that if he ever comes looking for B in Ukraine he will be killed.
From September through February there has been a sequence of hearings in the Family Court regarding contact and other issues between M & F. In October F was subjected to another bout of stalking and was attacked twice more. The first time, he was beaten unconscious by the same man who stabbed him in Bulgaria and an accomplice. On the second occasion he was discovered with hands again bound behind his back in front of the US Ambassador's residence - the cyclist who found him assumed him to be dead. Part of this second attack was audio-recorded. Despite M having denied any intentions of leaving the country (when interviewed by the local Children's Services in October and November as part of a Section 37 report), on 13thNovember M made a verbal application for Leave to Permanently Remove B to the Ukraine, overshadowing F's application for residency.
The Leave to Remove application was heard 10th - 14th February by Mr Justice Hayden. One business day before commencement of the proceedings F lost his Counsel as MGF had cut him out of his employment - unbeknownst to F, MGF had bought the company he worked for, thereby effectively drying up the source of funding to pay his lawyers and forcing him to represent himself as a litigant-in-person against one of the most expensive law-firms in London.
F tried to get the case adjourned for 30 days in order to acquire funds to keep his lawyers on the record, but the adjournment was refused. F, being an American and layperson, ignorant of British court procedure or the finer points of British law, then had to absorb 10 lever-arch files of documentation and learn how to conduct himself as a barrister, as well as prepare all of his own documents and arguments with less than 1 business day within which to do that.
The case went against him as MJ Hayden declined to believe that the pictures of his severe injuries dating back to the August 2013 attacks in Bulgaria were genuine, despite F having detailed medical documents to support the photos of the injuries, and even an account by a previous Judge who had seen first-hand injuries relating to the first attack on him in London. F offered to show the court scars of the wounds on his body but the Judge would not allow that. Instead the Judge and the CAFCASS officer asked to make a recommendation in this case - this individual admitting from the Witness box to his own family being from Kiev and that he speaks Ukrainian - were conspicuously unctuous and obsequious regarding M and the MGPs whom they viewed as good, moral people with everything needed to bring up and educate a child while F was 'a dangerous fantasist' and penniless with no long-term plans for B's upbringing.
Accordingly, Leave to Remove B was granted on Friday 14th February, to have effect at 4 pm on Wednesday 19th February. F immediately applied for a Stay of Removal which was heard at 2 pm on 19th February with M and B scheduled to fly out to the Ukraine next morning. Thursday 20 February turned out to be the bloodiest day so far in the current crisis affecting Ukraine. Fortunately for F, the Appeal Judge granted a temporary stay, for "other reasons" than just the fact that the situation in the Ukraine was so unstable, she said. This has enabled F to receive and file a transcript of the previous judge's Judgment containing additional telling information in his Permission to Appeal application.
With Kiev now a potential warzone and the evidence of F's painful struggle to save his daughter and family now having been viewed by the Court of Appeal judge, F desperately hopes that justice, reason and humanity will prevail. The MGPs are very dangerous people with a propensity for lying, bribing and bashing their way through life (M and MGF actually said in court that he'd bribed the police and that blackmail is part of everyday life in Ukraine).
Will Lady Justice Black have the moral integrity to question her colleague's 14th February judgment and ask herself whether he could possibly have been influenced? Will she grant F Permission to Appeal to keep his beloved daughter in the UK where she will be physically safe as well as continuing to benefit from the loving care she has enjoyed from him for most of her short life, while he still had normal access to her? It is poignant that hardly a year ago M wrote a touching testimony to F's qualities as a father saying "I do not believe any little girl could have a more genuine, honest and loving father, nor be luckier than our little girl." And how would people in America think of an American citizen being roughed up by Ukrainian thugs or an American baby being sent by a British judge to the Ukraine with Russian tanks and troops now stationed all over that country?
The father is in contrast to the mother and as noted by many officials who have seen him interacting with his baby in the contact centre a model dad and clearly completely devoted to his small daughter who as he puts it is the fulfilment of a lifelong dream to have a family. In his partner's own words in an affidavit that formed part of a business application "I do not believe any little girl could have a more genuine, honest and loving father, nor be luckier than our little girl."
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