Palin to face legal battle over grandson

Palin to face legal battle over grandson

Rights debate

The dispute is over Tripp, his infant son by Palin’s eldest daughter, Bristol. Johnston claims Palin is preventing him from seeing the child.

“I am up to the point where I cannot see my kid again. I am done. I am sure we will end up in court. We are definitely going to court,” Johnston, 19, said in an interview in Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city.

Johnston was propelled to national and international media attention last September when it was revealed he had made Bristol, who was then 17 and still at school, pregnant.

The disclosure was made just days after Palin was chosen as John McCain’s Republican vice-presidential running mate in the presidential poll.

Tripp was born on December 27, but the couple broke up less than three months later. Since then, Johnston and the Palin family have been locked in an increasingly acrimonious debate about access.

Johnston said there had been times when he had been allowed to see Tripp about once a week, but there had also been periods when he had had virtually no access. He said: “They started letting me see him and everything was fine. But everything got bad again.” Johnston said his relationship with the Palin family was entering another bad phase where his calls were not being returned, even though he said he was now paying child support. He has not seen Tripp for several weeks, and he blamed Sarah Palin personally for that: “Bristol listens to her mom. Sarah says something, Bristol is going to follow.”

An ugly court dispute is unlikely to be an attractive proposition for Sarah Palin, either as Bristol’s mother or as a politician with a book launch pending and a possible run at the presidency in 2012. A large part of Palin’s political appeal rests on her reputation for being a homely “hockey mum” that could be tarnished by a public custody fight.

Palin has responded to Johnston’s recent criticisms by using the American media to accuse him of peddling flat-out lies and exaggerations, adding it was unfortunate that he chose to exploit his former relationship with Bristol than care for the well-being of their child. Sarah Palin’s lawyer Thomas Van Flein said: “Other than noting that Tripp’s father is always welcome to visit his son, we are unable to respond to these allegations as it is inappropriate to discuss child custody matters publicly.”

Johnston admitted to the ‘Guardian’ that comments he made to ‘Vanity Fair’ and other outlets calling Palin a distant mother and a political hypocrite were partly made in retaliation. “If they had let me see my kid, I wouldn’t have done any of that.”