Round the world row

The 13-year-old girl at the centre of a legal storm over her plans to sail solo round the world is planning to formally leave the Netherlands, her laywer told tv show Nova on Monday night.

Peter de Lange said Laura Dekker has asked her local council in Wijk bij Duurstede to remove her name from the citizens registry and now plans to return to her birth country New Zealand. She holds Dutch and New Zealand nationality.

On Monday child protection officials went to court in Utrecht in an effort to have the girl, who will soon turn 14, put under official guardianship. They say the two-year trip is too risky for a young teenager and that it may damage her social development. The court will announce its decision on Friday at 10am.

The teenage, who was accompanied by her father, described the media turnout at yesterday’s hearing as ‘a little exaggerated’.

Although both parents are said to be behind her plan to become the youngest ever person to sail solo round the world, the Volkskrant points out her mother was noticeably absent from the court hearing.

Sources told the paper the girl’s mother is not happy with the solo voyage but has agreed to go along with it so as not to lose contact with the girl. Her parents are divorced.

Utrecht Univesity family law professor Christina Jeppesen de Boer told Trouw it was a question of principle. ‘Are the parents or the state ultimately responsible for the child?’ she said.

The courts can already intervene if a child is being abused or mistreated. ‘The question now is, can the court intervene if the child wants something and is supported by his or her parents,’ she told the paper.