Brit boy, 11, reunited with dad after year in Dubai orphanage as parents fought for custody
A BRITISH boy has been reunited with his dad after spending a year in a Dubai orphanage as his parents fought for custody.
Dad Charles, 42, was reunited with James, 11, at Heathrow Airport after a gruelling three-year custody battle with his French ex-wife.
Charles said being able to hug his son was the "best present ever" and the emotional reunion was caught on camera by his overjoyed family.
"Words cannot describe what it feels like to have my son back home with me," Charles, from Northumberland, told the Daily Mail.
"The custody battle has cost me over £500,000 and at times my sanity, but I was never going to give up on my son.
"It is such a relief that I have him home with me and we can try and re-build our lives.
"This should never have taken so long but for the lies told by my ex-wife."
PAWN IN A BATTLE
The complex ordeal started in August 2017 when James was nine and used as a pawn in his parents' custody battle.
James had been living with his father in Dubai after his parents divorced in 2015, but a court in France later awarded his 37-year-old mum full custody.
When French officials arrived in Dubai to take James back to France, Charles said the frightened boy refused to board the plane as he was scared of his mum.
It meant James was taken to an orphanage for a year, before he was placed in the care of a foster family, according to reports.
"James was adamant that he did not want to live with his mother, and I was not going to send him back." Charles said.
"I would have gone to prison for my son, but I would not have been any use to him there.
"James had made it very clear that he did not want to live with his mother and the authorities in Dubai refused to force him to live with her.
"My ex-wife was so vindictive that she let him stay alone in an orphanage rather than be with me. It is unreal how she could do that to her son but showed the sort of person she was."
After a three-year fight between three countries, another French court overruled the original decision and Charles was given full custody of James.
TAKEN TO FRANCE
James was flown back to the UK in July expecting to be placed in the care of his dad.
But his mum's lawyers went to the Family Division of the High Court in London and judges reportedly enforced the French ruling handing the mum full custody.
James was then taken to France.
Charles said: "In my opinion he was kidnapped as this was against his will."
"He ended up in hospital and the authorities refused to release him back into the care of his mother," he explained.
"For years I had been telling the courts that she was violent towards him, but they would not listen. They would also not listen to James. His views were never taken into consideration."
James eventually told social workers that he feared his mum and only wanted to live with his dad, Charles said.
Finally awarding Charles full custody, the judge said young James had been a "powerless onlooker of a chaotic family story in which his deep needs have never been heard".
Charles criticised the lack of support from social services in the UK.
"If the authorities had listened to James and allowed him to have a voice then this might not have taken so long," he told the Daily Mail.
"My ex-wife lied and lied to the courts and they believed her. I have only my son's interests at heart.
"He is still very fragile from the trauma of what has happened to him in the last couple of years, but he is getting better all the time."
James said: "I am super happy. This is the most relaxed I have been for years. Now I am really excited and looking forward to the New Year with my dad."
Charles said he has two other children who live with their mother in France.
"I have had no contact with them for almost two years. My fight to see them will continue," he said.
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