Child gets compensation for abduction by father

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The Independent Online
A 'TUG-OF-LOVE' abduction has been recognised as a crime of violence for the first time in a compensation case.

The claim, on behalf of a young child snatched by his father and taken abroad, was originally rejected by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, which has always refused to recognise such abductions as violent crimes.

But now an appeals panel has accepted the claim, clearing the way for more applications. There may be up to 50 children with valid claims.

The child's mother, a professional woman in her thirties, said: 'This is a victory for all the children who have been abducted by a parent. We didn't just fight this case for ourselves. We fought it for everyone who has been denied compensation in the past.'

The boy is still having psychiatric treatment for the trauma he suffered when his father took him on the run in several continents. He was missing for almost a year and was traced only when, against his father's instructions, he told someone what had happened.

His mother said: 'My son still worries that his daddy will take him away again. That fear will never leave him, or me. Abduction has nothing to do with love. My former husband had been violent towards us - separating us has been part of that violence.

'I'm still not sure what was said or done to my son while he was away, but I know that what happened has damaged him. He is still a frightened little boy. I hope the compensation will help him to catch up on the education and opportunities he missed.' A spokeswoman for Reunite, the only British support group for families of abducted children, welcomed the decision. 'We estimate there are between 20 and 50 similar claims which could be made following this judgment. Many parents have in the past given up on the idea of claiming, because of the stance taken by the board. This will encourage them to think again,' she said.

'We get around 100 calls for help from parents of abducted children every year. It is good to know some of these will now get some recognition that they are victims of crime.'

Reunite's chairwoman, Anne- Marie Hutchinson, a London solicitor, has already submitted another claim to the board. She said: 'The board's decision has set a precedent. The fact that it now accepts that abduction of this kind is a crime of violence, even where a child is not physically hurt, is a real breakthrough.'

A spokesman for the board said: 'Each case has to be decided on its merits and we cannot comment on individual judgments. But the board will not entertain

a claim unless it is shown the claimant was the victim of a crime of violence.'

At the appeal, the child's counsel argued that, although he was not physically hurt, the boy was taken under duress and was therefore the victim of a crime of

violence.

The board has yet to decide on how much compensation to grant the child. Members are currently studying psychiatric reports to assess the damage he suffered. But the final payment will be more than pounds 1,000.

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