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Wednesday, 8 May, 2002, 12:18 GMT 13:18 UK
HIV girl made ward of court
Generic court graphic
The father opposes conventional HIV treatments
A three-year-old HIV-positive girl brought back to the UK after two years on the run with her father has been made a ward of court.

The father landed at Heathrow with his daughter at 0715 BST on Wednesday, ending his seven-month battle in Australia to retain custody of his child and prevent her from receiving medical treatment.

However, they were met by police officers and representatives of the High Court, and taken away in a van.

She is understood to have been taken to hospital.

A spokesman for the Lord Chancellor's Department said that she had been made a ward of court in accordance with a previous court order.

Her future will now be decided by the courts.

The 39-year-old man, who cannot be identified, breached a High Court order when he fled the country in September 1999.

He did so to avoid his then baby daughter being given an HIV test.


As far as I know, when we arrive in England, we are free

Father

However, the homecoming marked a legal victory for the 39-year-old, who fought off a bid by Australian authorities to take custody of the child so that she could start receiving powerful drugs.

"As far as I know, when we arrive in England, we are free," he said before boarding the flight to London.

"You can't keep persecuting individuals who haven't broken the law."

Court ruling

On Friday, an Australian magistrate ruled that parent and child should remain together and be permitted to return to Britain.

New South Wales magistrate Scott Mitchell said he had no doubts the father had sincerely held beliefs and was doing what he thought was best for his daughter.
HIV-test family: Timeline
September 1999 - High Court (UK) orders daughter to be HIV-tested.
Family flees to Australia
October 2001 - Mother dies in hospital in Victoria state, daughter HIV-tested. Test is positive, and she is confined in hospital
March 2002 - Father plans to return to UK.
April/May 2002 - When he travels out of Victoria state, police track him down and take daughter into care pending a custody hearing
May 2002 - Court awards custody to father

It is not yet known what action the British authorities will take.

The father has vowed to continue his fight to prevent his daughter being given anti-Aids drugs against his will.

The man, an alternative therapist with strong views on HIV treatments, absconded from the UK in 1999 with his then four-month old daughter.

The British court had ordered the baby girl to be tested for HIV after her mother was diagnosed with the infection.

She had ignored conventional medical advice to take drugs during pregnancy and abstain from breastfeeding to reduce the risk of transmission.

After more than two years living in Australia, and following the death of her mother, the toddler was tested there - and proved positive for HIV.

Defiance

The father is now defying doctors who claim the child is dying and want to start treating her with powerful antiretroviral drugs.

He was captured by Australian police after breaching a court order obtained by social services banning him from travel.

Police had taken the girl into care for the duration of the court action.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Michael Peschardt
"His fight is still far from over"
Runaway father
"There is no black and white in HIV at all"
See also:

09 May 02 | Health
Treating children with HIV
02 May 02 | Health
Q&A: HIV fugitive father
03 Sep 99 | Health
Baby must have HIV test
03 Feb 00 | Health
HIV baby case to go to Europe
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