A recent case highlighted by The Littlehampton Gazette outlined the unusual instance of a Nigerian illegal immigrant, who is battling for custody of his 15 month old daughter and has recently won his appeal.

The man, who arrived in the UK 13 years ago on a six month tourist visa, had no job, had admitted to cannabis misuse and had periodically been homeless at the time of the appeal hearing last year.

At only a month old, the little girl had been placed into temporary foster care, due to her father’s seeming inability to care for her and her mother’s perceived mental health issues and inappropriate lifestyle. It was concluded during the court case in June last year that it would not be in the child’s best interests to be flown to Nigeria to be cared for by her father’s relatives, and although her father indicated that he would like to care for her himself, Judge Robin Tolson who led the initial hearing, suggested that the man might have had ulterior motives for doing so; viewing custody of his daughter as a legitimate means of remaining in the UK.

It was thus decided by the court to place the girl for adoption.

Although her mother did not appeal this decision, the child’s father did and the case went before Lady Justice Black at the Court of Appeal, who questioned whether Judge Tolson had had sufficient evidence on which to base his initial decision, indicating that further reasoning was required for purposes of clarity.

In addition, Lady Justice Black was informed that the child’s father had experienced a change in his situation and was now working, after being given discretionary leave. It was on this basis that she found the appeal to be in his favour.

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