UK corruption

Americans kidnapped by HM Customs at Gatwick Airport

Gatwick Airport corruption - Child abduction

Exclusive investigation: Part 1 – Kidnapped at customs: Intelligence UK International interviewed Clarice Gutmann, a US citizen who arrived in the UK on holiday with family, only to have their passports confiscated, leading to her children being sequestrated. A family torn apart by corrupt, malfeasant public officers.

It was a blisteringly cold morning at 4AM on 4th November 2017 when Clarice Gutmann and her 3 kids, US residents of Panama City, Florida, arrived at Gatwick Airport.

“We came on a family vacation for Thanksgiving over the Christmas holiday.  Educating my kids, I wanted to take them on a field trip, showing them other countries and cultures.  I only planned to stay in the UK for a month, with an onward trip around Europe for a couple of months with our Euro passes.”  

On the way through customs at Gatwick, Clarice and family walked through the green nothing to declare route.   There was a lengthy queue on the way out.  Suddenly Clarice and kids were accosted by a customs officer, telling them, “you must go and speak to the customs desk.” 

“At the customs desk I was greeted by an angry looking man of medium build.   I asked him why we were being pulled aside?   He said that all new people coming into the country have to be vetted.”

“The customs officer passed comment that, “you have too many bags”, and asked what was in the bags.   I told them there were Christmas gifts, he then abruptly told me we were going to be searched and that I would have to wait longer.  By that time, I had already been waiting two hours, with 3 tired and hungry children.”

Clarice Gutmann, a doting and dedicated young mother from Florida

After having the bags searched and establishing that there was nothing compromising in their baggage, Clarice and children were taken to a room and treated like criminals, with their fingerprints, DNA swabs and pictures being taken. 

“My laptop and our mobile phones were seized, we were then detained in a room for 17.5 hours.  It was not until about 8 hours after arriving at Gatwick that they finally let us call somebody.”

“I called my ex-husband, Philip, father of my children who is British and told him we had been detained by customs.   Philip told the customs officer we were on vacation, affirming what I had already told them.”

It is our understanding that the reason Clarice and family were detained is because customs observed the number of bags and were concerned that the family may have been attempting to overstay.   Those concerns were alleviated.

“The customs officers wanted to take pictures of my children individually and began, in front of me, pressing them, asking them questions, trying to find out whether they knew if we were trying to stay in the country.”

“My kids were terrified, crying and shaking most of the time throughout the time we were detained. They asked me “mommy, are we going to prison, are you going to prison?   I was trying to reassure them everything was going to be ok”

After the 17.5 hours detention, Clarice and her family were released.  No explanation was forthcoming as to why they were detained in the first instance.   

Clarice went on to tell us that “they let us go, but the retained our US passports, without any reason whatsoever, telling me I had to go to the US Embassy about our passports.”

Two days after being released, concerned that they could no longer travel and leave the UK, Clarice and the kids went to the US Embassy in London, producing her driver’s license to an officer and explaining the background.  They were told that these were legal matters and that the US Embassy would not be getting involved.

United States passports are property of the United States Federal Government

Only U.S officials have the authority to ratify confiscation of a US citizen’s passport.   The UK Customs officials never had jurisdiction to have done what they did, unless the family were suspected of committing a crime, which they were not.

Clarice Gutmann kidnapped by HM Customs at Gatwick Airport

After the unsuccessful visit to the US Embassy, the family went for a trip up to Blackpool for a week for the kids to explore the Pleasure Beach, before heading over to Newcastle to stay at the family’s vacation rental townhouse.

Once in Newcastle, Clarice had arranged to see a solicitor who specialised in immigration law, a firm called David Gray Solicitors.   

“The solicitors advised me that trying to get our passports back would be a long process and that I would be best placed to enroll my kids at local school to avoid potential welfare concerns.”

Clarice went on to explain to us that by that time, she had enough of the UK and just wanted to return to the US with her children, the whole experience was traumatic and outlandish for Clarice and the children, she felt “totally trapped.”

Clarice managed to get the youngest two kids of 8 and 9 years old into a local school in Washington by early January 2018.  Everything appeared to start out as smoothly as could be, the kids were getting education and Clarice told us that she believed things were slowly improving from what was a dire situation.  

“During the first week of February, after just 2 and a half weeks in school, my youngest daughter, who suffered with moderate autism, was triggered by actions of the teacher. This caused my daughter to behave erratically, panicking, scratching, and trying to bite the teacher.”

“I told the school that if there were ever such issues, to call me and I would come to the school right away and intervene as needed knowing of the specific needs of my daughter”

Clarice went on to tell us that it was the school who then involved Social Services, stating they have concerns for welfare of the children.   

The school lied and stated my daughter’s behaviour was more “oddly than usual”

Clarice told us that the school had lied, stating that her daughter’s behaviour was more “oddly than usual”. The child had only been in school for 17-days, hardly long enough to judge her behaviour.

The school falsely alleged to Social Services that they believed that there was “something sinister going on” and that “Clarice never told the school about her daughter’s condition”

Clarice told us specifically that she had completed the enrollment form with the school, disclosing all of the information in relation to her youngest daughter’s condition. Essentially, the school knew the statement they were making was false. 

It was around 12PM on Saturday 3rd February 2018, when Clarice and the kids were just getting ready to go to the cinema to watch the new Peter Rabbit movie that had just been released when there was a loud knock on the door.

Getting a court order would make it far worse”

Clarice told us:

“I opened the door to 3 police officers, a social worker and her assistant.  I was told that I had to speak to them and that they were there to do a wellness check.   I told them they needed to talk to my attorney, to which they responded if that was the case they would do so with a court order.  I was told that them getting a court order would make it far worse”

“The police shoved their way into our holiday home, nearly knocking me over in the process.  They were trying to put words into my mouth, coercing me into admitting there were issues that didn’t exist, but I refused to entertain it.”

“They took my children aside and interviewed them separately, preventing me from being with them.   I was made to stay in the kitchen.   After about 45 minutes they told me that if I didn’t sign the section 20, they were going arrest me, detain me, deport me and that my kids would be put up for forced adoption in Italy, Portugal or somewhere.”

The social worker said that if I didn’t help them take the children away peacefully, then they would do so by brute force, telling me they had to keep my children for no longer than 72 hours, then they had to return them.”

Misuse and weaponisation of the law

Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 sets out how a Local Authority can provide accommodation for a child within their area if that child needs it, due to the child being lost/abandoned or there is no person with parental responsibility for that child.  That did not apply in this case.

Clarice’s children were never returned as promised.  They were taken into care off the back of a false allegation that the father (who never had custody of the kids) was “too rough when playfighting”, resulting the children were ripped from the mother.

The kids were taken on 3rd February 2018 and on 21st February 2018 secretive family court proceedings ensued, finishing on 28th February 2018.  

“I discovered bruises on my daughter’s right arm the size of my fist, in between her legs near to her private area”

7 whole days of proceedings was commenced by Social Services on the back of a false allegation, resulting in child protection order placing the children in permanent foster care, splitting the children apart in separate foster homes. 

“I was allowed only half an hour of contact with my children for just two-days each week.  During one of the early contact meetings around mid-April, I discovered bruises on my youngest daughter’s right arm the size of my fist, in between her legs near to her private area and around her ancles and wrists.  I believed my daughter had been tied down.  I didn’t know whether it was either physical only, or sexual abuse, by that time I was in despair and frantic”

I tried to take pictures of my daughter’s injuries, but they threatened me and told me if I did, they would have security arrest me, confiscate my phone and have me deported”

“I tried to take pictures of my daughter’s injuries, but they threatened me and told me that if I did they would have security arrest me, confiscate my phone, and have me deported and that all contact with my children would stop”

“This occurred six more times and the children’s grandparents also witnessed the bruises”

Clarice found out about the then U.S President, Donald Trump’s executive order called the Families First Kinship Order under the Families First Act, and got it granted.

After being stranded in the UK without employment or the lawful ability to work to earn money, the 3-month holiday fund was depleted.  By that time, Clarice had already spent £7,000 on lawyers.

Clarice went on hunger strike for 22-days to be able to afford a solicitor to continue assisting her in the case.   The family’s passports were still being held, but without reason.

There was never any basis for Social Services to have intervened, the entire case was built upon lies.  

The U.S authorities confirmed there were never any welfare concerns confirmed with the family and that the children were at no risk

The US authorities confirmed when Social Services enquired that there were never any welfare concerns confirmed with the family, her children were at no risk.  On the contrary, Clarice was granted full custody of the kids.

The UK authorities acted ultra vires (without jurisdiction) and unlawfully sequestrated the family’s passports.  Sequestration of the passports, was, after all, the entire cause of Social Services becoming involved. 

Had there been any genuine safeguarding concerns, it would have been for the US authorities to deal with and such concern would likely resulted in preventing them from travel.   

There was never any jurisdiction for the public officials to have intervened on both grounds.

Were it not for the unlawful detention and sequestration of the family’s passports by HM Customs at Gatwick, the family would be living happily ever after in the USA where they came from.

A shocking example of UK public officials abusing their powers, inflicting vile, gross human rights abuse, not just unlawfully interfering with family life, but totally destroying an innocent family, the motive however, we shall further investigate.

We appraise Clarice for her courage coming forward to share such a devastating case, a brave fighter for justice and a credit to all who have suffered abuse in the hands of the corrupt, secretive family courts and the sham social services systems who often do more harm than good.

We contacted Newcastle Social Services and Gatwick Airport HM Customs for comment on this article.

Be sure to sign up to our newsletter so you can stay tuned to follow the sequel to this article.   Please comment, like and share far and wide.  There’s a cure for corruption and that is, transparency.

About author

We are Intelligence UK International, a leading global private intelligence agency dedicated to investigating and combatting domestic corruption and economic crime where law enforcement fail. Bringing you hard hitting investigatory journalism, holding the unaccountable to account.
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