Hartest couple locked in legal battle to bring grandchildren home

Ian Simpson with grandchildren Jack and Alice.
Ian Simpson with grandchildren Jack and Alice.

A father is fighting to bring his two young grandchildren back to Britain to live with him after his son was brutally murdered in China.

Ian Simpson and his wife Diana want Jack, six, and Alice, five, to come to live with them in Hartest. Places at Hartest Primary School have been promised for the children.

But the couple – and their family and friends in Sudbury, Hartest and Boxford – face the mammoth task of having to raise thousands of pounds to cover custody, legal and medical care fees in China.

It centres around Mr Simpson’s son, Michael, 34, who was stabbed to death in his Shanghai home in March.

His estranged wife WaiWai Fu is accused of his murder, and her trial is due to take place later this year.

Michael was a director at high street retailer Next and had gone to work in China eight years ago to oversee expansion of the company’s retail network.

He met and married WaiWai, a store worker, and the couple went on to have two children together.

Following their separation last year, Michael began a relationship with Rachel Lin, only for the pair to be attacked in their home. Michael was killed and Rachel severely injured.

Michael’s funeral took place in Bournemouth – where he grew up and where his mother Linda and brother Andrew, 36, live – in May.

His father, a retired IT consultant from Brockley Road, said he had not seen his grandchildren since March and does not know exactly where they are – but is determined to get them back.

The two children are thought to be in the care of their mother’s family – 700 miles away from Shanghai in Hubei Province.

“It happened on a Monday evening and, by Tuesday lunchtime I was on a flight to China,” said Mr Simpson.

“I saw my grandchildren on the Thursday but then they were taken away and I’ve not seen or heard from them since. We are fighting a legal battle to get them back.”

Mr Simpson, 68, said Michael’s mother and brother, as well as his wife’s family, and Michael’s step-sister Helen from Sudbury, were behind the move to bring the grandchildren back to live in Hartest.

“We are older, but we have lots of support to look after them and offers of help including a promise of places at the school here,” he said.

“My neighbour suggested using crowdfunding on justgiving and people have been so generous.

“The family have made donations and we have put money in, too. I have been overwhelmed by the support we have received.

“I am embarrassed but someone in Hartest said to me ‘you’d do it too, Ian, if it was someone else’s family’.

“I think the community has been absolutely amazing. Fergus and Martha and Joannah Metcalfe have been brilliant.

“Boxford and the Boxford Bike Club have been so supportive and have raised money. Both Hartest and Boxford communities have been shining lights. I have found it very moving,” he added.

Chinese culture allows those accused and convicted of crimes to make amends by seeking forgiveness from victims and their families, in order to shorten a prison sentence.

Writing on the Justgiving page, Mr Simpson’s neighbour Mr Dyer-Smith said: “If this forgiveness is forthcoming, the children will be released into Ian’s custody.

“But in a cruel twist of fate, the Fu family are also insisting on no compensation claims as part of the deal. This means Ian needs to find £50,000 to cover the cost of Rachel’s legal and medical bills. Ian’s pension pot is running low and he needs help.”

The Justgiving page is full of tributes to Michael and messages of hope that the children can come to live in the UK.

The page can be found at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jack-and-alice