Three children who were taken to Libya by their father against their mother’s wishes were victims of a “blatant abduction”, a judge has said.
Khalid, nine, and sisters Aasiyah, seven, and Maimunha, four, had been wrongly removed from Manchester’s Dawn Daley by Fares Aljehani in July, Mr Justice Peel told London’s High Court.
He said the Libyan national had claimed they were going on holiday in England.
However, he said Mr Aljehani had “clandestinely” taken to Libya.
In a statement, Ms Daley said since her children were taken, some days “were harder than others, but I remind myself that I have no option but to carry on”.
The children have been at the centre of private litigation in the court’s family division.
Ms Daley and Mr Aljehani, who were married, are estranged and involved in divorce proceedings.
Addressing the court, Mr Justice Peel said that from “everything I have read and heard”, it was apparent that the children had been “wrongly removed from this country by their father in what was, on the face of it, a blatant abduction”.
“Those children are now with their father and his family in Libya,” he said.
“The removal was under the ruse of a holiday which the father said he wished to take in England.
“Instead, he took them clandestinely to Libya.”
He said that “in so doing… he acted unscrupulously and contrary to the needs of these children, who have always lived in this country and have been in the primary care of their mother and attending school here”.
The judge said Mr Aljehani had been served with notification of legal proceedings and his response had been to send a “laughing emoji”.
He said Mr Aljehani had “perpetrated an act of great cruelty on these children and their mother” and urged anyone who could to help return the children to the UK, including “the father himself, his family and any judicial or other authorities in Libya who are minded to take appropriate steps”.
The court also lifted restrictions barring the identification of the children and given Ms Daley the go-ahead to launch a public appeal for help.
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In her statement, Ms Daley said it had been “three long hard months”, adding: “Some days are harder than others, but I remind myself that I have no option, but to carry on for the sake of myself and all of my children.”
“Fares, I urge you to do the right thing and bring the children home where they belong,” she said.
She added that she could “only imagine what’s going through their little minds”.
Ms Daley’s solicitor James Netto, of the International Family Law Group, said she had had “virtually no contact since their abduction from this country in the summer of 2022”.
“Christmas is approaching and with each day that passes, the more painful it is for the children and for their mother,” he added.