UK

Syria couple win legal fight for care of children

The figure of Lady Justice
Image caption The judge said he was satisfied that the attitudes of the parents had "genuinely changed"

A Muslim couple arrested over fears that they were heading to Syria for "extremist activities" have won a court fight for the care of their children.

The three children were placed in foster care after the couple's arrest by counter-terrorism officers in 2015.

Mr Justice Cobb said he was suspicious the parents were going to areas controlled by so-called Islamic State.

But he said their "attitude" had "genuinely changed" and he concluded that the children should return home.

The judge, who is based in the Family Division of the High Court, said he was also satisfied that the couple will meet their children's needs.

He said evidence showed that being in the family home will be in their best interests.

'Considerable concern'

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

The judge did not identify 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 were 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.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The couple were arrested at the Eurotunnel terminal in Folkestone, Kent

The couple had told police that they were travelling to Germany to visit relatives, although the man 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 IS.

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 father 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 expressed "were wrong".

"I am sufficiently satisfied... that the attitudes of these parents have genuinely changed," said Mr Justice Cobb.

"I am satisfied from the information placed before me that these parents [will meet] the needs of these... children in all material respects."

He added: "All relevant considerations point to the conclusion that it is indeed in the best interests of the children that they should [be] at home in the care of their parents."