Ken’s case could change law

Caelan and Devlan Spooner
Caelan and Devlan Spooner

THE closure of a loophole in the law could prevent other parents going through the same pain as a father whose children were taken to Zambia.

Ken Spooner, the subject of this newspaper’s Justice for Ken campaign, allowed his former partner Zanetta Nyendwa to take their two boys, Devlan and Caelan, on a holiday to the African country to see their grandmother.

But despite promising to return, Miss Nyendwa remained in Zambia with the children – leaving Mr Spooner to contest a drawn out legal battle to bring them home. But a change to the law could have meant he was able to bring Devlan and Caelan home much earlier.

Because Mr Spooner had given consent for the holiday the case is being treated as a civil dispute over unlawful retention rather than a criminal one. If Miss Nyendwa had taken the children without that consent it would have been classed as a criminal case.

It meant Mr Spooner had to wait 30 days before he could press formal charges.

But MP for Milton Keynes North Mark Lancaster insists this loophole needs to be closed. He has pledged to ‘work tirelessly’ to press the Government to reconsider the law.

He said: “Had it been a criminal offence, I suspect the Zambian authorities would have been more likely to extradite the boys and his mother back to the UK to be dealt with in the courts here.

“I find it staggering that children can be abducted from a parent and the actions of the other parent are not classed as criminal.”

Mr Spooner said: “Where you have a situation that one parent can lie to the other and betray them on the pretence of taking a child away on a holiday having already decided to abduct them, that is a civil case.

“But it is still pre-meditated abduction and I can’t see the difference between the two.”

Mr Spooner has managed to obtain documents showing the children had been enrolled in a Zambian school months before the holiday.

The doting dad, who despite winning a judgement that gives him custody of the boys does not even know where they are within that country, added: “It sends out the wrong signal to any parent who thinks they can betray their partner.”

A stay has been placed on the Zambian order awarding custody to Mr Spooner while Miss Nyendwa decides if she will appeal the decision. Miss Nyendwa has moved into her mother Rosanna Nyendwa’s new home. Mr Spooner is unaware of its location.

He added: “If the law is changed it will make it easier for the left behind parent to take issues to a foreign court and make clear it is a crime.

“Currently it is a bigger crime to throw a stone at a window than to take a child on false pretences.”