SNP leadership candidate Ash Regan has come under fire from a Scots father for government failures he says hampered the search for his missing children.

Nathan Gilmour's ex-wife Angelica Gilmour left the country with his two young children in July 2019 and they are believed to be living in North Cyprus known as the 'de facto' state of The Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC).

Mr Gilmour, a teacher from Ayrshire, has spent the last four years pleading with the Scottish authorities to take action.


The TRNC is not a member of the Hague convention and therefore has no obligation to cooperate with international authorities despite Police Scotland believing the children are at some risk.

In England and Wales, there is legislation in place preventing a parent from taking children abroad without another parent or carer’s consent and police will assist in finding and returning children. 

Mr Gilmour is continuing to be let down by the SNP government 

Mr Gilmour believes that with more robust criminal legislation, his ex-wife would not have risked leaving the country and both the Scottish and international authorities would have been able to take more immediate action to bring them home before reaching North Cyprus which is seen as a haven for criminals 'on the run'.

The Scottish Government says it is considering amendments to existing legislation.

The father-of-two says he was "reassured" by the government that local authorities have policies and procedures in place to assist in the tracking and safe return of missing children.

However, five years on, an investigation has found that more than a third of councils have no such policies in place. Some only have policies in place for children who are missing from residential or foster care.

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Scottish child protection guidance stated the need for protocols almost ten years ago in 2014.

Local authorities were then set a target of 2018 to have measures in place by Ash Regan, when she was Minister for Community Safety. Ms Regan resigned on October 27, citing concerns over the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.


Mr Gilmour believes that had there been joined-up processes in place, his children, now aged seven and five, would have been reported missing and tracked.

As it was, they were not registered as missing until more than two years after they disappeared, despite the fact the children were known to social services for around a year previously.

He said: "There are two very clear issues here. 

"Our criminal justice system is archaic and for some reason still refuses to acknowledge parental child abduction as a criminal offence.

"Secondly, our civil justice and care system is completely inadequate for tackling the sorts of issues faced by my children. 

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"Civil authorities end up all pointing the finger of responsibility at each other instead of taking action as there are no clear protocols or provisions in place when children - particularly those not from a residential care background - go missing. 

"My father is a former manager in social work and child protection services, my brother is a serving police officer and my mother and I are long-term teachers.

"We were all aware of the complete lack of clarity, direction and coordination between the agencies involved.

"When I challenged the Scottish Government on the lack of criminal legislation, I was assured that structures were in place within the civil system to care for children like mine.

"That is blatantly not true. 

"That's why it took two years and four months for my children to be classed as missing persons."

Mr Gilmour put freedom of information requests into all 32 local authorities to find out what policies each had in place.

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He believes thirteen do not meet the Scottish Government's standards including Edinburgh, which covers Ms Regan's own consituency.

The others were; Argyll and Bute, Falkirk, East Lothian, Highland, Moray, Scottish Borders, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Dundee City, Fife Shetland Islands and Orkney

Seven did not provide any response.

He said: "The results are quite shocking and relate directly to Ash Regan's work in her previous role as Minister for Community Safety.

"It's difficult to describe how much I miss my son and daughter. The pain is still very raw, even four years on. I love them very much and will keep doing whatever I can as a Father to care and protect them".

Mr Gilmour is pushing for legislative changes in the criminal justice system to bring it into line with Scotland, supported by Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Jamie Greene.

Mr Greene said; “Nathan Gilmour is going through unimaginable pain.

"He is continuing to be let down by the SNP government’s total lack of urgency when it comes to closing this loophole within the law.


“It is simply not right that there are cases where it is not a criminal offence when a parent like Nathan Gilmour has not given consent for their children to be taken abroad by the other parent.

“Typically, working groups have been set up by ministers- including leadership candidate Ash Regan- but no action has been forthcoming.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “International child abduction is included in our Family Justice Modernisation Strategy and we are considering if any amendments are needed to the legislation. 

"As part of this work, we will consider other points raised, such as protocols and policies in place in relation to missing children.”

The Herald contacted Ms Regan for comment.