A former policy aide to Gordon Brown has lost a landmark divorce case, in the latest stage of proceedings which have taken in three countries over five years.
A judge in London ruled yesterday that a divorce granted to the British woman in the UK was not valid and instead recognised a divorce made four years earlier in Dubai.
Afsana Lachaux claimed she had been attacked, degraded, stalked and spied on by her husband, French aerospace engineer Bruno Lachaux.
She claimed Mr Lachaux had sought a divorce and custody of their six-year-old son Louis under sharia law in the United Arab Emirates.
However, at the High Court in London, Mr Justice Mostyn dismissed Mrs Lachaux’s case and said she had lied during a four-day hearing. He found the Dubai divorce was valid and dismissed Mrs Lachaux’s claims of coercion, saying she “gave as good as she got”.
The judge also found that Mr Lachaux had lied and that he had snooped in order to access Mrs Lachaux’s emails and texts – but said he preferred his account of a confrontation at the family home.
Louis is now in his father’s custody in Dubai and his mother has been granted limited contact.
The judge warned Mr Lachaux he could still order him to bring the boy to the UK if Mrs Lachaux was cut out of his life and urged the couple to set aside their differences. The pair met in India in 2008 and married two years later at a ceremony in London but relations quickly soured. Mrs Lachaux claimed she was being “controlled” by her spouse but the judge said: “The mother was a free spirit, doing exactly what she wanted, where she wanted, with whom she wanted.
“It is a far cry from the case of grinding depression and coercive control painted in her carefully prepared witness statements.”
He also found that Mrs Lachaux had attempted to sabotage her husband’s job, saying: “It is plain to me that the mother’s strategy was to obtain the dismissal of the father so that … he would be deported.” The judge found that both parties had invaded each other’s privacy during the dispute.
He concluded “both parties have told me lies from the witness box, although the mother’s lies have been more extensive than those of the father”.
The judge ruled that Louis was lawfully removed from Mrs Lachaux following his disappearance for 19 months. He added that her suspended sentence for kidnapping was “lenient in the circumstances” and also concluded that he did not accept Mrs Lachaux was a “victim of abuse, threats and violence from the father”.
He went on: “I do not accept that she was fearful of him. I do not accept that her complaints were not investigated or taken seriously by the police and the court. I do not accept that she was mistreated by the police.
“I do not accept that she was trapped in Dubai as a result of travel bans or confiscation of her passport. I do not accept that she did not have notice of the divorce proceedings or the opportunity to participate in them.
“I do not accept that the proceedings were unfair. The mother was not divorced on traditional Islamic grounds and sharia judges did not steal her son.”
He said it was true Mrs Lachaux has been denied access to her son.
“The father failed to promote the relationship between mother and Louis,” added the judge. “However, that failure must be set against the mother’s conduct.
“I have made strong findings against both parties. They should act as a form of closure between them.
“I reiterate that Louis’ wellbeing will be seriously compromised if he does not have a meaningful relationship with each of his parents.”
The judge ruled that the Dubai divorce was valid and a subsequent English divorce was invalid.
A spokesman for Mrs Lachaux said: “Although she is disappointed with the judgment she is pleased that Mr Justice Mostyn recognised it is vitally important for Louis to have a relationship with both parents as he grows up.”
Mr Lachaux said the judgment had “vindicated” him and he was “looking forward” to supporting his son in re-building the boy’s relationship with his mother.
He also referred to ongoing libel claims he has brought against various publishers, including The Independent, who reported Mrs Lachaux’s allegations. He said he intends to continue these actions.Reuse content