MP accuses council of 'child kidnap'

A CONSERVATIVE MP has accused Suffolk County Council of “child kidnapping”, “emotional abuse” and “cruelty” after a couple were forced to give up their nine-week old daughter for adoption.

Graham Dines

A CONSERVATIVE MP last night accused Suffolk County Council of “child kidnapping”, “emotional abuse” and “cruelty” after a couple were forced to give up their nine-week old daughter for adoption.

In an adjournment debate in the Commons, Tim Yeo said council staff “snatched the baby from the arms of her mother” in a joint raid with the police.

The South Suffolk MP told MPs: “This council actively seeks opportunities to remove babies from their mothers.

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“Its social work staff do so in a manner which in my view is sometimes tantamount to child kidnapping.”

He said he suspected that “an explicit, if unpublished, aim of the staff of the council is to remove very young children from the care of their parents wherever possible.”

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Suffolk County Council last night refuted his claims.

Mr Yeo relayed the story of parents Carissa and Jim and baby Poppy - false names to hide their identity - and said the council had:

n destroyed a fragile family

n denied parents basic human rights

n refused to discuss the case with him, citing confidentiality.

n gave false evidence to an adoption panel

n accused the father of being a pathological liar

n not question ability of parents to care for the child

After the birth, Suffolk social services monitored Poppy's progress during the first few weeks of her life. “Happily she prospered at home under the loving care of Carissa and Jim,” said Mr Yeo.

“However the fact that no fault could be found in the actual physical and emotional care provided by her natural parents did not deter the county council from destroying this fragile family.

“On October 27 last year, council staff, having ensured that Jim would be away from home, accompanied by police, arrived unannounced and without warning at Carissa's home and snatched Poppy, then only a few weeks old, from the arms of her distraught mother.

“I immediately protested to the county council about this unjust and cruel act. I received a letter in reply containing the far from reassuring and completely ungrammatical reply that 'I can confirm that the infant was removed without notice with the assistance of the police however no force was used.'

“In the eyes of the council, that apparently made everything all right. The appalling truth is that in Suffolk, social workers and police can burst unannounced into your home to snatch a nine-week-old baby from the arms of her mother, a mother who is not only totally innocent of any offence but is not even accused or suspected of having harmed her child.”

Mr Yeo said following Poppy's removal, a bitter legal battle took place which was still ongoing. Throughout the process, the county council had repeatedly changed the grounds for removing Poppy, alternating between blaming one parent and then the other.

“The council's search for a justification for their cruelty became increasingly frantic as one initial diagnosis was overturned and replaced with another. Numerous contradictions arose which cast serious doubt on the soundness of the current case against this couple,” he told the House.

“The first doctor's psychological assessment of Carissa declared she qualified for a diagnosis of factitious disorder. Then a consultant forensic psychiatrist, after the briefest of assessments, decided that she fulfilled the criteria for the much more catch-all narcissistic personality disorder.

“The first doctor assessed that Jim was 'a pathological liar' but later a consultant clinical psychologist 'would not endorse the expression'.”

Mr Yeo continued: “Astonishingly, at no point has the ability of Carissa and Jim to care for Poppy ever been questioned. It is acknowledged that in the few weeks in which they were allowed to look after Poppy they did so in an exemplary manner.

“The final favoured rationale given by Social Services for Poppy's Adoption Order was based on nothing more than the possibility of future emotional abuse of her by either Carissa or Jim.

“The consistent thread running through this horrifying story has been the evident determination of social services to prevent an infant being brought up in the care of her natural parents. There have been many other inconsistencies and contradictions in this case, far too many to list here.”

Mr Yeo said he attended the adoption panel in August: “A kangaroo court would be a better title. The panel consisted of people who were emotionally in favour of adoption regardless of the merits of any individual case.”

He added: “Neither Carissa nor Jim stand accused of any offence whatever. The punishment they face however is one of the most terrible any parent can face - the forced removal of their own baby. The awful truth is that they would have more legal rights, and would be treated in a more humane and just way, if they were on trial for murdering their own child.”

In a statement responding to Mr Yeo, Simon White, director of children and young people's services, said: “The outcome of any case is for the court and not any individual council.

“For legal reasons, we cannot comment on individual cases, but decisions of this kind are not taken lightly and follow a rigorous process of assessment. Our highly trained, professional staff are very mindful of the particular circumstances of each case but ultimately it is the welfare of the child or children which must be safeguarded -- we reject any accusation otherwise.

“Any judgement which results in placing a child will only ever be taken after the fullest consideration of how the child's safety and happiness can be best preserved.”

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