A schoolboy who sees himself as Scottish has helped win a legal fight preventing his return to Poland with his little brother.
The 13-year-old instructed his legal team to take part in a court action in which his mother was contesting a bid by his father to have the children returned to the European nation.
A judge at the Court of Session in Edinburgh has refused to grant orders for the return of the children to Poland taking account of their interest and general welfare.
The children’s mother and father are both Polish but moved to Scotland in 2013 where they remained until 2021, before returning to their homeland.
The parents separated and the father had contact with the children before they returned to Scotland earlier this year with their mother on the understanding they would be taking a week long holiday.
They did not return to Poland and the father sought an order from the Scottish court for them to be sent back under child abduction and custody legislation.
The mother and elder son opposed the move, maintaining that their return to Poland would expose them to harm or put them in an intolerable situation and that both children were against a return.
Lord Stuart said the evidence of the older boy, known as X, suggested that he has a consistent, reasoned, and strong view that “he does not want to live in Poland and does want to live in Scotland”.
“He has spent the majority of his childhood in Scotland and especially insofar as that part of his childhood where one interacts with others outside of one’s direct family, for example at school.”
“As a consequence, and by his own expression, X feels, and I accept, is likely to be more integrated into the Scottish community. X identifies as being Scottish,” said the judge.
In Poland the boy had felt isolated and bullied at school and his mental health suffered to the point where he intended to take his own life before he “talked myself out of it”.
He has now settled well at school in Scotland and is making good progress. He has taken up with a friendship group from primary school after keeping in touch with them while in Poland and has seen his mental health improve.
The court heard that the younger boy, aged seven, had also expressed the view that he considered himself to be Scottish and was “happy and thriving” on his return. The boy told a child welfare reporter: “I love Scotland – I love it so much.”
The children’s mother said she had been in an abusive relationship with the father, during which she was controlled, raped and threatened that she would be killed.
She said her husband told her that he had friends who would break her neck for £300 or £400.
She said that he would shout and scream at her in front of the children and call her names like “slut” or “whore”.
The father denied the abuse had occurred and said he did not believe that the views expressed by his sons were their own.
Lord Stuart said: “X’s instruction of his own agents and counsel not only supports an inference about X’s maturity, it is also eloquent of the strength of X’s objection and his desire for that objection to be heard.”