Family Law Hub

London Borough of Harrow v Afzal & Ors [2014] EWHC 303 (Fam)

  • In brief: You may have read about this case in the papers because the child's identity was revealed by Mr Justice Keehan deliberately in time for the Champions League match between Manchester City and Barcelona - the city it was believed Farah had been spirited away to. A direct appeal to Barcelona fans was made at that game to "keep their eyes open" for the baby. 

    Here, the London Borough of Harrow brought a committal application against the maternal grandparents and paternal grandmother of three-month old Farah, who had been abducted by her parents to Spain in the face of a temporary care order. Farah was the subject of local authority involvement because of concerns in respect of long-standing drug abuse by her parents. It had been agreed that she would live with her mother ("M") at the grandparents' home on the basis that the grandparents would offer a degree of protection to the child.  

    On 16 January 2014, Farah was removed from her home by her parents; on 24 January 2014 an order was made against the grandparents requiring them to take all steps within their control to ensure that Farah was returned immediately to the jurisdiction and to provide the local authority with all information relating to Farah's whereabouts.  

    Mr Justice Keehan heard evidence on two occasions from the grandparents and found the maternal grandfather to be evasive, dishonest and totally unreliable. For example, he had, despite the disclosure order made, failed to mention that he had transferred money to his daughter in Barcelona on 24 and 30 January 2014. Being satisfied that the grandfather was lying so as to protect his daughter and prevent Farah from being returned to the jurisdiction and that he knew where the family were and was witholding that information from the court, Keehan J unhesitatingly found him to be in contempt of court. Accordingly, and taking into account the serious nature of the breach, the grandfather was sentenced to 28 days in prison and ordered to serve half.  

    Stop press: On 5 March 2014, a number of newspapers reported that Farah had been located safe and well in Barcelona. 

    Read the full text of the judgment here

Case note, published: 11/03/2014

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Published: 11/03/2014

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