A HIGH Court judge has refused to rule that two children at the centre of an international tug- of-love dispute should remain in the UK with their Welsh mother.
Mrs Justice Theis said at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London that the future of Jessica Palacin Jones, 14, and her 12-year-old brother Tomas needed further consideration.
Her decision was the latest stage in a long-running dispute between the children’s divorced parents — Spanish army officer Tomas Palacin Cambra, who lives in Majorca, and Welsh teacher Jennifer Jones, from Llanelli.
Jessica and Tomas — plus their sister Eva, 10, and brother David, 8 — hit the headlines in October after they vanished with their mother.
The group was found safe and well 24 hours later after a public appeal by High Court judge Mr Justice Roderic Wood.
He said a Spanish court had made orders saying the four children should be in the care of their father in Spain — and Ms Jones had failed to return them after they stayed with her during the summer.
Mr Justice Roderic Wood was told that Mr Palacin Cambra had flown to the UK to collect all four children shortly after their discovery.
Eva and David had flown back with their father but Jessica and Tomas had refused to go.
Since then Jessica and Tomas have been in the care of a local authority.
Three Court of Appeal judges in London have analysed the case and concluded that the Spanish court ruling is “well founded” and enforceable under international law.
Lawyers representing Mr Palacin Cambra now want Mrs Justice Theis to enforce the Spanish court ruling.
The judge — who last week met the two youngsters — says she is exploring options and considering arrangements for their return to Spain.
But a barrister representing Ms Jones asked for the enforcement process to be “stayed”.
Christopher Hames told Mrs Justice Theis that the two children did not want to go back to Spain and should be returned to their mother.
“This is not the way to treat children,” said Mr Hames. “My application is that this enforcement process should be stayed now and the children should be returned to the mother’s care.”
He added: “Their wishes should now be respected, in my submission. Their wishes and views have been made quite clear.”
But Mrs Justice Theis said it was too soon to consider such a move.
“This is still a matter that requires further investigation and consideration by this court,” she said. “It would be wholly premature for the court to consider an application for this court to stay orders for the return of the children (to Spain).”
The judge indicated that she might consider such an application at a later date.
Ms Jones, who is in her mid-40s, and Mr Palacin Cambra, who is in his early 50s, were both at the hearing.
The judge was told that Mr Palacin Cambra had recently travelled to the UK to see Jessica and Tomas.
Ms Jones clutched a teddy bear during the hearing and, at times, wept. Lawyers are due to have further discussions with Mrs Justice Theis at a High Court hearing in London next week.