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Father praised for court battle
A 21-year-old KFC fast-food restaurant worker who is trying to trace his three-year-old daughter and has represented himself in "unusual and complex" family litigation has been praised by a High Court judge.
Mrs Justice Eleanor King said the man - who was in care as a child and had met his daughter's mother, also 21, in a foster home - had lost access to legal aid and could easily have "walked away".
But she said he had "acquitted himself admirably" in proceedings in the Family Division of the High Court which had "dragged on" since 2011.
The judge said the man had been "well-prepared", "courteous", had asked "insightful" questions and given "clear" and "honest" evidence.
She said his sole motivation was a desire to find his daughter and have a chance to play a part in her life.
The judge made her comments in a ruling on the latest round of the case following a hearing in Birmingham. She did not name the man, the child or the child's mother.
But she said the child's mother's family came from the Congo and had links to north-west England.
Mrs Justice Eleanor King said the man had never met his daughter.
The judge said the little girl's mother had left when pregnant.
And the mother had claimed that the little girl had been killed in a car crash in Africa.
The judge concluded that the little girl was alive.
She said the little girl's mother was "controlled" by her father - the child's grandfather.
And the judge said she was "satisfied" that the grandfather knew where the child was.
"The father has had his legal aid withdrawn notwithstanding that this is his application for contact (and) he is ... employed on a modest wage with KFC," said Mrs Justice Eleanor King, in a written ruling.
"He has therefore appeared unrepresented in these unusual and complex High Court proceedings. He acquitted himself admirably. His evidence, whilst somewhat loquacious, was clear and, I am satisfied, honest."
The judge added: "The father was well-prepared and courteous; he asked insightful, relevant questions without a hint of aggression in what cannot have been other than a very uncomfortable situation.
"I am entirely satisfied that the father's sole motivation for pursuing these proceedings is his desire to find out if his daughter is alive and, if so, where she is and so to have an opportunity to play a part in her life."
She went on: "It would have been all too easy for him to have walked away ... It is to his credit that he has not done so."