A FATHER who has gone four years without seeing his kids has started to “rekindle a little bit of hope” after the Scottish Government agreed to meet with him.

Nathan Gilmour last saw his son and daughter in April of 2018 before his wife refused him custody.

During a civil case, an Ayr Sheriff Court ruled Gilmour should have access to his children.

But in 2019, his wife fled the country with their children. She is now believed to be in the Turkish Republic of Cyprus.

Since then, the former teacher has campaigned to end the Scottish loophole dubbed the “kidnapper’s charter”. The legislation means it is not an offence for a parent to abduct their own children and take them to a foreign country. This loophole does not exist in other UK countries.

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The 38-year-old said he was “best pals” with his now seven-year-old daughter and five-year-old son. Since then, every day has been a struggle.

But he told the Sunday National he had recently received confirmation from the Scottish Government that a meeting will take place to discuss what changes are required to the Child Scotland Act 1984 to close the loophole.

'I'm desperately hopeful to meet with the Scottish Government'

He said he is “desperately hopeful” to meet Community Safety Minister Elena Whitham’s team before Christmas.

“I’m very grateful for the communication I’ve had with her,” he said.

“Hope is something I struggle with. I hoped my wife would only prevent me from seeing my kids for a day or two.

The National: Nathan Gilmour hasn't seen his kids in four yearsNathan Gilmour hasn't seen his kids in four years

“I hoped the civil justice system could have resolved the issue with my kids and they would have been allowed to have a relationship with their father.

“I hoped Police Scotland would have been involved in returning the kids. All these things never happened.

“So hope is something I struggle to cling onto. But I’ve certainly been encouraged with the communication from the Scottish Government since I went on the island.

“It does rekindle a little bit of hope that change is possible for the sake of children in Scotland and obviously for the sake of my two young children.”

In September, Gilmour marooned himself on the uninhabited Lady Isle in Ayrshire to raise attention to the plight of parents like himself.

Gilmour worked as a teacher before his kids were taken away but has been off work while suffering from mental health issues.

He said he’s “embarrassingly exhausted” from the four years he has spent campaigning.

“I struggle at times to understand why I can’t do what I feel like I should be doing. I dearly miss teaching. I miss working with young folk.

'The past four years has been particularly traumatic'

“The past three or four years have been particularly traumatic and it’s taken a significant toll on my health.

“But it’s important work and it’s worth it. Although it probably has a continued detriment to my health, the continued fight, whether that’s for the campaign or for my kids, any parent will tell you that fight is the only way you can go on.”

Gilmour said it’s particularly hard for him as Christmas approaches but he’s determined to continue campaigning and fighting to see his kids again.

The National: Nathan Gilmour is set to meet with Elena Whitham's teamNathan Gilmour is set to meet with Elena Whitham's team (Image: Elena Whitham)

The positive news for the dad follows a blow from Police Scotland which took his kids off the missing persons list.

Gilmour said the police spoke with him in the autumn to confirm contact with the authorities in Cyprus confirming Police Scotland believe his wife to be on the island.

Despite the contact Gilmour said he’s been unable to find an address for his wife.

“Based on that information, that they haven’t confirmed, they have now removed the children from the missing persons list,” Gilmour said.

'Police Scotland has washed its hands of any responsibility'

“Effectively they’ve washed their hands of any responsibility for returning the children.

“I found that pretty galling and difficult to take – especially when I’m on the phone regularly with other parents in the rest of the UK and they have their local and national police forces investigating the situation surrounding their children, who are all in the same area as my wife.

“They are doing everything they can to communicate with the parent who’s abducted the kids in order to have them returned. They have not only a UK arrest warrants for abduction. They’ve got European arrest warrants for adoption. Interpol have issued red notices for their children.

“The other thing is we should see that the high courts in England have made these children wards of the court so that they then have responsibility for the wellbeing and safety of the kids.

“And all this is going on at the same time as I’m sitting around the table with Police Scotland and they’re seeing actually your kids are no longer classed as missing and we’re removing the yellow notice on Interpol for them.

“This is because we have no criminal legislation in Scotland which is suitable for children who are parentally abducted.”

Northern Cyprus is among the few areas in Europe not to have been signed up the 1980 Hague Convention on child abduction. The Scottish Government said it has been working under the treaty to return Gilmour’s children should they return to a nation which has signed the agreement.

The National: Nathan Gilmour said he felt let down by Police ScotlandNathan Gilmour said he felt let down by Police Scotland

He continued: “I believe Police Scotland have failed to care for the welfare of my children since day one.

“In regards to parental child abduction, I think Police Scotland are utterly frustrated.

“All the authorities in Scotland are completely frustrated by our lack of legislation to protect missing children who have been removed by a parent. That is a failing of our government.

'The Scottish Government is failing children'

“I believe that our Scottish Government have failed children and parents of families who have undergone parental child abduction since 1984, since the legislation was written, and it was in 1984, that the rest of the UK made this a criminal offence.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our Family Justice Modernisation Strategy says that we will consider if any amendments are required to the legislation on child abduction.

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The spokesperson continued: “As part of this work, we will be meeting with Mr Gilmour later this month.

“We are keen to hear why he considers the legislation should be changed and the changes he would like to see.”

Detective Superintendent Derek Cree said: “The safety of children is a priority for Police Scotland and we treat all reports of concerns with the utmost seriousness.

“We are in regular contact with Mr Gilmour and have kept him fully apprised with regards to the status and progress of the missing person enquiry.”