Syria trip suspects win fight for return of children, at Leeds court

News from the courts
News from the courts

A MUSLIM couple arrested amid fears that they were heading to Syria to engage in “extremist activities” have won a family court fight for the care of their three children.

The youngsters had been placed in foster care following the couple’s arrest by counter-terrorism officers, but a senior judge has concluded that they should return home.

Mr Justice Cobb says he is “sufficiently satisfied” that the couple’s “attitudes” have “genuinely changed”. The judge, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court, says he is also satisfied that the couple will meet their children’s needs. He says evidence shows that being at home will be in the children’s best interests.

Detail of the case emerged yesterday in rulings published by Mr Justice Cobb following private family court hearings in Leeds.

The judge has not identified the couple. He said they were from London but lived in the North-East of England.

Council social workers had asked him to make decisions about where the children should live.

The couple had been arrested while in a car with their children at the Eurotunnel terminal in Folkestone, Kent, during the summer of 2015.

They had not been accused of any terrorism-related offences as a result of their arrest, but had faced fraud charges.

The couple had told police that they were heading to Germany to visit relatives, although the man had admitted that he had been “drawn into radical extreme thinking”.

Mr Justice Cobb said evidence caused him “very considerable concern” and he said he was “suspicious” that the couple had been heading for areas of the Middle East controlled by the Islamic State organisation.

But he said suspicion was not enough.

Mr Justice Cobb said he had been told how the couple had co-operated with social services after the children were taken into foster care.

The man said he accepted that things he had said before were “not appropriate” and “not a true expression of Islam”, and the mother had accepted that views she had expressed “were wrong”.