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December 15th, 2011 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
I complain a fair amount about courts, child welfare agencies and the like overlooking fathers.  It seems that you can make book on the fact that, if a child is taken from a mother, CPS will put it into foster care rather than attempt to find the dad.  The same holds true in adoption cases, custody cases and the like.

Well, Michael Lorrigan can tell us that what’s true for the courts and CPS is true for the news media too.

Start by reading this article which is actually only one of many in the same vein(Daily Mail, 12/12/11).  It tells the story of a mother, Tess Lorrigan, a  British citizen living in Dubai, U.A.E.  She lived there for a time with her British husband, Michael Lorrigan, but their marriage fell apart, and they split up.  Then what do you suppose her callous husband did?  He used a local law forbidding married women from working without their husband’s permission to have her deported back to the U.K.  Worse, she was forced to leave their adopted daughter, Olianne, behind with him. 

A British mother has been deported from Dubai – and forced to leave her six-year-old daughter behind – for working without her estranged husband’s permission.

Secondary school teacher Tess Lorrigan was in her classroom with a group of 13-year-old children when she was arrested by immigration officials and thrown into one of the Middle Eastern state’s notoriously tough prisons for two days.

Tess claims he lodged the complaint after becoming bitter over their tug-of-love battle for Olianne.

What a cad!  Worse, he’s a typical male, lording it over his innocent wife who wants nothing more than to support herself and care for her child, right?  That’s the message of the 400-word article, about 60 of which refer at all to Michael’s side of the story.

But, as Paul Harvey used to say, now for the rest of the story.  Read about it here (Gulf News, 12/15/11).

It turns out that Michael offers a few details the DM neglected.  And that’s interesting because the Daily Mail’s reporter talked to him, she just didn’t let her readers know what he had to say.

Michael tells it this way.  He came back from a business trip to find his wife, his child, all their pets and all their furniture gone.  Having no idea of what had happened (she hadn’t had the courtesy to leave a note), Michael filed a missing persons report, and a few weeks later, Tess called.

“Over the next 10 months, my life turned into a nightmare. I was constantly pleading with Tess to allow me to see my daughter. I offered to pay her Dh70,000 a year for rent, plus the cost of our daughter’s education, in exchange for having access to my own child! But logic doesn’t work with my wife. Weeks would slip past without her answering my phone calls or replying to my messages.”

Michael said he then hired the service of a lawyer. “We found out that Tess was illegally employed in a British curriculum school in Sharjah, which is where she had also registered our daughter without my permission. Despite my lawyer’s hesitation, I contacted the school asking for help.”

In a letter to the headmaster, Michael wrote, “My wife has played God over the past few months in deciding exactly when and where I can have access to the things I love… My lawyer has consistently instructed me to … go to the Immigration and educational ministries to file complaints … I will do so next week if we cannot meet and discuss this matter and find a resolution… She has been told that unless she is reasonable in granting me access to my daughter and the animals, I will be taking action. She has chosen to ignore these comments.”

When all warnings failed, Michael complained to the concerned authorities. By May 2011 Tess was arrested and held overnight in police custody. Their daughter, meanwhile, was back with her father.

“I never did any of this to hurt Tess or separate her from our child. Despite all the times she denied me access to my child, I never once denied her access to our daughter. My only rule was that she would have to come home to see our daughter. She wasn’t allowed to take her out of the house. All the lies my wife has been spreading in the British newspapers are appalling.”

Michael said he acted as guarantor so that Tess could be released from police custody. “It was because I gave in my passport that Tess was allowed out of jail. And it was my passport that stayed with the police until last month when my wife was deported to the UK,” says Michael.

“Her allegations that it was my fault that she was deported are untrue. When she lost the case for illegal employment, I begged her to appeal. I said I would pay for everything. Against my lawyer’s wishes, I was ready to help Tess stay. But the more I tried, the more she pushed me away. She said she was fed up of Dubai. It was a blow to me. The absolute worst is that she’s now telling the world that I’ve abducted her daughter. Nothing could be further from the truth,” says Michael. “The truth is that Tess has conveniently misplaced our daughter’s passport. She says she doesn’t have it any more, but that ‘it must be somewhere.’ But until she figures out where that somewhere is, our daughter can’t travel to the UK. And my wife can’t come back to Dubai following her deportation. And that’s the honest truth.”

So Michael is in fact a bit less of a scoundrel than the Daily Mail would have readers believe.  In fact, according to him, all he wanted to do was see his child.  Tess consistently refused, but even then all he did was offer to pay her rent and for Olianne’s education, all in exchange for what he should have had all along – some face time with his daughter.  Despite his attorney’s prodding to be tougher, Michael warned Tess of the consequences, but still she ignored him.  Now she’s been deported according to the laws of the country in which she was residing.  And she, with the help of the Daily Mail, wants us to believe that Michael is Snidely Whiplash.

It’s a remarkable case, but an even more remarkable exercise in legerdemain on the part of the Daily Mail’s reporter.  How she can portray a man who wanted nothing but to see his child as the villain and the mother who did everything she could to prevent him doing so as the heroine is quite an accomplishment.  I’d like to say I don’t know how she did it, but I do. 

Like courts, she ignored the dad.


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