Highbridge mother Rebecca Minnock 'manipulated press'
Highbridge mother who disappeared with her three-year-old son
when a custody ruling went against her was "utterly irresponsible",
a judge said on Monday (June 15th).
Minnock and relatives tried to manipulate the press with a "publicity
stunt", according to Judge Stephen Wildblood.
he said he would do what he could to ensure that Ethan had "an
effective relationship with both parents".
Minnock, 35, handed herself in to police in Oxford on Friday after
more than two weeks in hiding with Ethan.
mother and son disappeared from their home in Highbridge on 27th
May - the same day that a judge had ruled Ethan should live with
Wildblood QC spoke in open court before he held a private hearing
about Ethan's future.
said: "Huge amounts of time, effort and money were spent
on the case and it is simply unfair for a party to attempt to
use the press in an attempt to deny another person justice."
only is it absurd for anyone to try to 'play the press' in that
way, because that inevitably backfires, but it is also an utterly
irresponsible way to behave from the point of view of the welfare
of a child."
added that during the two-year custody battle between Ms Minnock
and Ethan's father, Roger Williams, it had "been found that
the mother positively invented allegations against the father
on two occasions".
added: "The father has not at any time embarked on anything
like the publicity stunt in which the mother's family has engaged."
was reunited with his father on Friday evening.
Minnock's mother Louise, 52, and Louise's partner Andrew Butt,
56, were jailed on Friday for contempt of court after admitting
withholding information about her whereabouts.
who drove Ms Minnock and Ethan to Cheltenham on the day they disappeared,
told the court last week: "The plan was to keep her away
for as long as possible and to generate as much publicity as possible."
in hiding with Ethan, Ms Minnock gave interviews by telephone
to two national newspapers.
Wildblood said that he had to ensure there were no more attempts
by Ms Minnock and her family to "manipulate public opinion".
may also have to look at what should be done about Rebecca Minnock's
behaviour in breaching previous court orders," said the judge.
anticipate that there needs to be a short period of time in which
people can take stock of what has happened and reflect on what
they want to achieve."
Minnock has been engaged in a two-year legal battle with Ethan's
father over contact with their son. In February, a district judge
found she had fabricated allegations against Mr Williams in order
to "frustrate contact" between him and Ethan.
social worker reported that Ethan was not "emotionally safe"
with his mother. Ethan had been staying with his father four nights
a week since February.