Father wins court battle with sect

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The Independent Online
A FATHER yesterday won the right to keep his son away from the Exclusive Brethren - an isolationist religious sect that does everything possible to prevent its members having contact with the 'impure' outside world.

The Court of Appeal rejected an attempt by two members of the Christian fundamentalist group - a married couple regarded by the boy as his grandparents - to overturn a judge's order that he should live with his father.

The boy, referred to as 'D', has lived most of his life under the Brethrens' separatist regime, which bans all social contact with non-members, who are regarded as 'impure'. He, like other adherents, was prevented from taking meals with outsiders. Along with other children he had to eat separately from his schoolmates - even on outings - and could not watch television outside the classroom, listen to records or the radio, or use computers.

D's mother died of cancer in 1988. Later, his father had been ostracised from the Brethren and banned from socialising with his son after harrassing a female member of the sect.

The father later won county court orders that his son should live with him.

The county court judge rejected suggestions that the boy had been 'brainwashed' by the Brethren, but said the grandparents 'appear to lack any degree of charity towards D or his father'.

Lord Justice Purchas said the father had shown much more love and consideration for the child's feelings, and it was in the boy's best interests to remain with him.