Spanish authorities seize two-week-old son from British parents who fled UK to stop social services ‘kidnap’
By Daily Mail Reporter
A couple who fled the UK to ensure their unborn child would not be taken away by social services have had their two-week-old son removed by Spanish authorities.
The pair, who gave themselves the pseudonyms Jim and Carissa Smith to protect their identities, moved to Spain after Carissa fell pregnant to prevent their unborn child being seized by social workers.
Their first child, a daughter who is now 18-months-old, was removed from their care at 11 weeks and put up for adoption because they were declared unfit parents.
The baby, known as Poppy, was at the centre of a legal battle to decide who should care for her.
Mr Yeo used parliamentary privilege in November to accuse Suffolk County Council of ‘actively seeking opportunities to remove babies from their mothers’.
He described how social workers began monitoring Carissa and Jim after the birth of their daughter, referred to as Poppy, in August 2008.
They waited until Jim was out at work one day 11 weeks later to swoop on the couple’s home with police and ’snatch the baby from the arms of her mother’.
In the ensuing legal battle, the council repeatedly changed its grounds for intervening, alternating between blaming one parent and then the other. Carissa was accused of having factitious disorder - a condition in which sufferers feign illness
Her parents tried to regain custody of her but lost their appeal and it was decided she would be adopted.
Mr and Mrs Smith’s second child, a son, was born a fortnight ago. Two days ago he was taken away by the Spanish authorities, said Tim Yeo, MP for South Suffolk.
In an adjournment debate in the Commons last year, Mr Yeo suggested that social workers in Suffolk acted in a manner ’sometimes tantamount to child kidnapping’.
Mr Yeo has been in regular contact with the pair since their move.
‘It couldn’t have come at a worse time,’ said Mr Yeo.
‘She [Carissa] was breast feeding, it is a terrible time for a newborn to be separated from its mother. They are understandably very upset.
‘They are now trying to regain the care and custody of their new baby in Spain. They are confident that the Spanish authorities will deal with them more fairly than the authorities in this county.
‘Their situation is obviously very distressing. They have had to flee 1,000 miles away to have their baby but even there they are not out of the reach of Suffolk County Council.
‘There are some people in the social services who are determined to make life difficult for them and I think that is deplorable.’
A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said that the case did not fall under its jurisdiction.
‘We had no prior knowledge that this action was being contemplated by the Spanish authorities, nor do we yet know the basis on which they took their decision,’ said Simon White, director of children and young people’s services.
‘When we became aware that the family had gone to Spain we gave the Spanish authorities information about the recent child protection case concerning their older child.
‘That case eventually led to a decision by the court that it would be in the best interests of the child that she should be adopted.
‘Clearly we are under a legal and moral obligation to let the relevant authorities know these circumstances, but it would then be a matter for them to decide what appropriate action to take. ‘
A young mother from Suffolk also emigrated to Spain last month after the county’s social services said that her new-born baby may be taken into care because it could possibly be ‘emotionally neglected’.
Megan Coote, 21, from Ipswich, Suffolk, has mild learning difficulties and problems showing her emotions. She gave birth to her daughter Olivia two weeks ago.
Now she lives in Spain with her mother Lorraine Coote and baby. Her father Dale Coote remains in the UK.
Earlier this week John Hemming, a Lib Dem MP and chairman of Justice for Families, said that people moving abroad to ensure their families could stay together was a growing phenomenon.
‘More and more people are going abroad because they do not have any confidence that they will get a fair trial in the family courts here,’ he said.
‘Evidence is given in secret by experts who depend on local authorities for their income. The system is so biased towards local authorities that they get whatever they want.
‘I have seen people who have struggled for many years to get a fair hearing. We have got to stop gagging people who are victims of miscarriages of justice.
‘We need a system which has proper scrutiny and it is crucial that parents should be allowed to bring in a second opinion.’