January 1983

Lord Cowie ruled in the Court of Session that the two young daughters of the estranged Earl and Countess of Cassillis should stay for the time being with their grandparents, the Marquis and Marchionness of Ailsa.

The judge heard opposing applications for interim custody of the children – Lady Rosemary, aged 3, and Lady Alicia, 18 months – by the countess, Lady Dawn Kennedy, 23, and the earl, Lord (Archibald) Charles Kennedy, 26. The couple were living apart, the earl with his parents at Blanefield House, Kirkoswald, the countess in the matrimonial home, Middlemuir Farm, Tarbolton.

Hugh Campbell, advocate for the earl, said that while living with their mother for the past few weeks the girls had been subjected to 'an extremely traumatic experience'. They had been abroad for Christmas and since their return on Boxing Day had been 'shunted about in a manner which was unsettling to their physical and emotional well-being'. Campbell told the court that they had been left in the care of a former nanny after the nanny and Lady Dawn had met in a pub. A few days later, the nanny had to go for an interview and could not get in touch with Lady Dawn. She called Lord Charles’s secretary and told her where to find the children. Campbell questioned whether Lady Dawn was a fit person to have custody of the children.

Donald MacFadyen, for the countess, claimed that she had been under considerable pressure from journalists and that was why she had left the children with the former nanny. He said that if she was given interim custody, with occupation of the farmhouse and adequate aliment, she could look after them.

Lord Cowie said he could not order the press to leave the countess alone and that the grandparents might be in a stronger position to make sure that journalists did not interfere in the children’s lives.

More about this case tomorrow.

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