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Court directs solicitor to travel to Saudi Arabia to meet Amina Al-Jeffery in private

21 year-old’s instructions considered ‘equivocal’

Anne-Marie Hutchinson OBE of Dawson Cornwell, the solicitor representing Amina Al-Jeffery in High Court proceedings concerning her removal to Saudi Arabia from her home in Wales, is to visit Riyadh in order to take instructions in person from her client.

In an earlier judgment, reported as Al-Jeffery v Al-Jeffery (Vulnerable adult; British citizen) [2016] EWHC 2151 (Fam), Holman J required Amina's father to facilitate and permit that Amina return to England and Wales not later than 11 September 2016 although the judge made it clear that there was no order or obligation upon Amina herself to travel to Wales and England. 

Amina did not return to this country and is believed to be currently in Saudi Arabia.

In a document purporting to be sent from Amina's email address dated 10 September 2016 Amina has expressed, apparently unequivocally, that she wishes to stay in Saudi Arabia in order to continue to rebuild her relationship with her father.  However, as the judge has indicated in a new judgment, there has been a range of other communications by email, text and telephone between Amina and Ms Hutchinson.  Additionally, the solicitor has received two notes or accounts of a meeting on 25 August 2016 (during which Amina telephoned Ms Hutchinson) with officials of the British Consulate at a hotel to which she was accompanied by her father (though he was not present at the meeting). 

Holman J says:

"All that material, read as a whole (which I have not been able to see [because of consulate confidentiality]), leads the solicitor to make the current assessment that the true position of Amina is 'equivocal'."

Accordingly, Holman J has directed that Ms Hutchinson travel to Riyadh and that Amina do likewise (from Jeddah) in order to meet on their own in order that the solicitor might "obtain clear instructions and report to the court with clarity in this case; and … ensure that Amina is able to make an informed decision free from pressure or influence."

In view of Mr Al-Jeffery's objection to the meeting taking place at the British Embassy or consular premises, Ms Hutchinson is to nominate an appropriate venue for the meeting. Holman J said that he looked to the Legal Aid Agency to provide funding for the journey and associated expenses which he considered "necessary and very proportionate".

The judgment will be published shortly.

21/9/16