Evening Timee

Friday, May 24, 2002

Tug-of-love boy must go back to Canada

The Evening Times (Scotland)

A mother who fled to Scotland with her tug-of-love son was today ordered to return him to Canada.

The 31-year-old woman brought her son to Scotland secretly to "bring him up properly", the Court of Session heard.

But his father called in the Mounties and Interpol in a bid to trace him and the woman was caught when she began work with the Scottish Executive.

The five-year-old boy has been in the country for more than two years and has started primary school. The court heard he is "noticeably happier and more settled" than in the land of his birth.

But Lady Paton today ordered the mother to return the child, known only as C for legal reasons, to the jurisdiction of the courts in Ontario.

The mother holds dual Canadian and Scottish citizenship and became pregnant after a relationship in Canada. The couple lived together briefly but separated in 1998 and after legal proceedings it was decided the boy should live with his mother but maintain contact with his father. It was also ordered the boy remain in Canada.

The court order disappointed the mother as it hindered her hopes of a career in aviation and she was forced to work as a waitress.

Lady Paton said the mother felt depressed and was living an isolated lifestyle when she "made a drastic decision to move".

Before flying to Scotland to start a new life, she told the boy's father she was moving to a remote part of Ontario. But she had already applied to work in aviation in Britain.

The woman and her son arrived in Scotland in March 2000.

The judge said the mother hoped if the pretence was discovered the boy would be so settled in Scotland he could be legitimately entitled to stay.

However, the father realised his son had gone and contacted Canadian police.

Eight days after the mother started work with the executive on March 25 she was served with a child court petition.

Lawyers acting for the woman argued the child should be allowed to stay in Scotland because he was settled here and that could override international child abduction laws under the Hague Convention.

It was claimed that the woman and her son should not be uprooted and sent to Canada where she had no job and little support and would be faced with lengthy legal battles which would bring unhappiness and emotional and educational disruption to the boy.

But Lady Paton ruled that the boy must be sent back to Canada for their courts to deal with the case.