Michael Turberville has not seen Ashley Skinner, 7, since the boy’s mother, Joanne, vanished with him during contested court proceedings more than a year ago. He believes that his son may now be in Australia.
Sir Mark Potter, the President of the High Court Family Division, lifted the reporting restrictions usually attached to disputes over children in the hope that the publicity would help Turberville to trace his son.
Sir Mark said: “This mother’s behaviour is to be deplored. She has gone to extreme lengths to go to ground with Ashley.”
Turberville, 41, from Reading, became a father after he appealed for a woman to have a child via an advertisement in the gay publication Pink Paper. He received 50 replies and chose Skinner, from Islington, North London. At the time both were in same-sex relationships. They tried home insemination nine times before succeeding.
Turberville was allowed to see Ashley an hour after he was born. He could not understand why Skinner refused to put his name on the birth certificate but was happy with the access that she granted him up until Ashley was 3.
“I saw him every other weekend, or when she needed me to babysit,” he said. “I would visit him and we would do things as a family, go to the museums, the park. He called me Daddy.”
He last saw his son to celebrate his third birthday. Soon after that, he said: “Joanne and I were talking and she suddenly said, ‘I don’t know what you are concerned about, you have no say in the matter’.”
Skinner who was splitting up from her partner, then asked for a six-month break in contact. Turberville said that he sent cards and presents and attempted to renew his relationship with his son, but when all failed he mounted a legal action.
Skinner responded by making criminal allegations against Turberville — unconnected with Ashley — of which he was acquitted by a jury and exonerated by the family court in September last year.
Asked why he had accepted Skinner’s offer to bear his child without established access rights, Turberville said, “Things were different ten years ago and I had to take what I was given.”
Poor boy. Either he's going to grow up being really open-minded or maybe just a little screwed up. Seems like too much confusion for a little boy at that age with a gay father & a lesbian mother. And the parents aren't even close friends or anything.