Family Judge uses emoji in ruling

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A family judge in the High Court has become the first to incorporate an emoji into an official judgment.

Mr Justice Peter Jackson included these web symbols, which are used to convey emotions in text and online messaging, as a way to make his decision easier to understand for the two children involved.

He ruled that the ten and 12 year old should only have limited contact with their father, ‘Mr A’, a British Muslim convert. He was a former soldier who had spent time in prison after a robbery conviction. Shortly afterwards, he became a born-again Christian but converted to Islam a year later. He increasingly began to voice extremist views following his conversion, so much so that several people who knew him contacted the police anti-terrorism unit to express their concern.

In July 2014, Mr A tried to go to Syria by himself but was stopped at the airport. The following year, he tried to take his two children to the war-torn country but told them and their mother he was going to take them to Euro Disney.

The judge said the father “never had any intention of going to Euro Disney and it was unkind to [his children] to have promised it to them”.

Police believed that the mother may have known about the trip to Syria. In a note she left for family members she asked them to look after the pets and promised she would return in a few weeks. There was a smiling face emoji next to the date which the police thought was winking, “meaning that the mother knew they wouldn’t be coming back”. However, the judge disagreed about it being a winking face. “It is just a ”, he said, and the “police are wrong about that”.

In a post-script to the judgment, Mr Justice Peter Jackson said that a care order had been made which placed the two children with their mother. He also noted that Mr A had since been convicted of a firearms offence and sentenced to 18 years in prison.