THE custody battle between a Briton and a Zambian has taken a new twist following the arrest of the man for allegedly conniving with the maid of his former wife to steal the passports of their two children.
Police deputy spokesperson Siamana Ndandula said in an interview yesterday that Kenneth Spooner was arrested after Zanetta Nyendwa, the mother of the children, reported the matter to police.
She said on June 24, 2010, Spooner allegedly asked Ms Nyendwa’s maid to steal the children’s passports so that he could go with them to the United Kingdom.
“The man has been charged with conspiracy to commit a felony and will appear in court at the earliest possible time,” she said.
Ms Nyendwa and Mr Spooner had two children together in the United Kingdom before they separated through an agreement.
On November 20, 2008, Mr Spooner obtained an ex-parte order from the Family Division of High Court of Justice in England compelling Ms Nyendwa to return the children to the United Kingdom following her failure to do so after a two-week holiday in Zambia.
Mr Spooner later came to Zambia and applied to the Lusaka High Court, under the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal and Enforcement) Act of 1933, to register and enforce the order.
The High Court registered the order after which Ms Nyendwa applied to the court to set it aside but the court refused.
This prompted Ms Nyendwa to appeal to the Supreme Court on four grounds, one of which was that the High Court erred in law when it registered an English order under the Foreign Judgments Reciprocal and Enforcement Act, which is not applicable at law.
Another ground was that since the children were now resident in Zambia, their custody was subject to the Zambian jurisdiction.
Two weeks ago, Supreme Court Judges Sandson Silomba, Marvin Mwanamwambwa and Hilda Chibomba ruled that the principle of registration of foreign judgments or orders is on a reciprocal basis.
The court observed that registration should have been set aside since Ms Nyendwa was not heard or did not appear before the English High Court.
The judges further noted that Mr Spooner made a grave error by applying in the United Kingdom, as there is no reciprocal arrangement for registration and enforcement of the judgment or order between Zambia and the United Kingdom.