A teenage mum has been forced to fly to Malta during lockdown after a judge said her one-year-old son must return to the Mediterranean island despite fears of coronavirus.
Leigha Collins, 18, her two children, and mum Cerry left her home in Kinghorn, Fife, at midnight and drove through the night to Heathrow Airport.
At 11.30am, Ms Collins said goodbye to her two-year-old son Alfie and her mum — not knowing when she would see them again.
She and one-year-old Hayes then boarded Maltese government charter flight KM7101 to Valletta which took off at 1.30pm.
Before departing, she told STV News: “I feel absolutely dreadful. I’m now going to have to say goodbye to Alfie and it is so difficult. This should not be happening — it is so wrong.
“My biggest concern is getting on this flight knowing we’re putting ourselves at increased risk of coronavirus and not knowing what to expect in Malta.
“Hayes and I will have to stay in an apartment in quarantine for 14 days. Surely we could have stayed in Scotland until the situation improved.”
Ms Collins split from Haye’s father Kyle Borg, 19, and returned to Scotland after she accused him of violence.
Mr Borg then went to court to seek the return of his son using the Hague Convention — an international treaty used to return children taken by a parent from one country to another.
At the Court of Session, Lord Brailsford ordered that Hayes must return to Malta and said that alleged criminality by Mr Borg “has not been proven”.
Lawyers for Ms Collins argued that her return would put her in “grave risk” but but the judge said his only remit was for the child’s welfare.
An expert in infectious diseases also told the court it would be “reckless” to travel during lockdown.
Backed by MSP Alex Rowley, the family explored last-ditch legal options and issued an appeal to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who said she sympathised but could not interfere with the court process.
Mr Rowley told STV News: “I still cannot believe this has been allowed to happen in these circumstances and I think most people in Scotland would feel the same way.”
Ms Collins, speaking moments before boarding, said: “I’ve lost faith in the Scottish courts and I also think that Nicola Sturgeon could have done something if she had wanted to. Surely she could have said that we could not travel at this time because of the pandemic.”
It will now be up to the Maltese courts to decide what happens with Hayes but Ms Collins will argue that he should be allowed to return to Scotland with her son.