A teacher embroiled in a tug-of-love dispute with her ex-partner today told a High Court judge that she would be ''devastated'' if not allowed to start a new life in Russia with their five-year-old daughter.

The Hampshire father of Alice Davies, Julian Brown, wants to prevent the girl's mother, Jacqueline Davies, from taking the girl to the Russian captial.

Ms Davies, 49, whose family comes from Cardiff, says living in Moscow would be in Alice's best interests.

Gas engineer Mr Brown, also 49 and from Aldershot, wants the little girl to live with him and says ''carting'' her to a foreign country would be ''almost like a prison sentence''.

Ms Davies told a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London how she had found it hard to get a job in the UK and said she would be devastated if her plan for a new life in Russia failed.

''I would be very devastated,'' she told Mr Justice Keehan. ''It's very hard to get a job for my little one. I just cannot do anything.''

She added: ''It's very, very difficult to find a job when you reach a certain age.''

Ms Davies said she would set up holiday and internet contact for Mr Brown and would obey court orders.

The case hit the headlines last year after Ms Davies and Alice vanished in breach of court orders.

They were found in Moscow, where Ms Davies had got a job teaching information, communications and technology.

Ms Davies is now asking Mr Justice Keehan for permission to live in Russia and continue working there.

The judge has heard that Ms Davies and Mr Brown became involved in family court proceedings after separating.

A court had ruled that Alice should live with her mother and that Mr Brown should have contact with his daughter.

But Ms Davies disappeared with Alice. They were found in October following publicity about the case.

Ms Davies has apologised for leaving the UK with her daughter, but she says a life has been ''set up'' for Alice in Russia which meets the youngster's ''physical and emotional needs''.

She says Alice was happy when she was in Moscow and would have an ''above average'' upbringing there.

The hearing, which began on Wednesday, is due to end tomorrow.