Posted on | December 2, 2013 | 44 Comments
Over the weekend a highly concerning story began to be reported in the press – the headline and byline read as follows: “‘Operate on this mother so that we can take her baby’ A mother was given a caesarean section while unconscious – then social services put her baby into care.”
It started in the Sunday Telegraph, courtesy of Christopher Booker, a journalist well known as a critic of the family justice system – and it spread like wildfire. It started, it was said, when the woman “had something of a panic attack when she couldn’t find the passports for her two daughters, who were with her mother back in Italy.” This led to her calling the police, family members on enquiry raising concern about her mental health conditions and non-compliance with medication, and ultimately to being detained hospital under the Mental Health Act, where she remained until the c-section described above.
Within hours of the original post another Telegraph journalist, Colin Freeman, was reporting that “Essex social services obtained a High Court order against the woman that allowed her to be forcibly sedated and her child to be taken from her womb” by caesarean section “according to legal documents seen by this newspaper”. The case, it was said “raises fresh questions about the extent of social workers’ powers”. The report stated that “The woman…was forcibly sedated. When she woke up she was told that the child had been delivered by C-section and taken into care.”
On Sunday night I posted a short blog post asking for information when a judgment was published on Bailii. Lawyers found nothing, even though the baby was now 15 months old.
By Monday morning it was reported stateside by CNN. By Monday evening it was covered by the Independent and Guardian (and doubtless other papers). The Independent quoted John Hemming, who in typically hyperbolic style “said he hoped the incident would “shock people out of their complacency about the corrupt practices in the family court”. He told The Independent: “I think this has a fair chance of being the worst case of human-rights abuse I’ve ever seen. She wasn’t treated as a human being”. Drawing on and interpreting the Telegraph articles, the Guardian said “According to a report in the Sunday Telegraph, Essex social services obtained a high court order against the woman that allowed her to be forcibly sedated and her child to be taken from her womb. The council said it was acting in the best interests of the woman, who was in Britain for work reasons, because she had suffered a breakdown, according to the newspaper”. At that stage Essex were confined to responding with the standard “Essex county council does not comment on the circumstances of ongoing individual cases involving vulnerable people and children” which is rolled out when standard reporting restrictions are in place (although the rules on reporting of family proceedings apply equally to newspapers this does not appear in practice to prevent the press from reporting cases they consider newsworthy).
The Telegraph published a response article from a solicitor with the headline“Child taken from womb by social services: it’s not always wrong”, which lent the paper a superficial appearance of balance, whilst undermining the piece with the chosen headline. That article appeared to be based upon the assumption that the account given by the Telegraph is accurate, that Essex applied for a caesarean in order to further the welfare of the child, and upon the mistaken premise that the Court of Protection has as its core purpose the protection of the child. It does not.
In the meantime twitter was ablaze with comments and outrage and in equal measure with questions and pleas to wait for the facts. Bloggers blogged (I recommend Suesspicious Minds blog for an accurate explanation of the legal framework under which the cases will have proceeded), and even Chami Chakrabarti offered a quote (always a sign of a media frenzy). Unnamed “Human Rights Groups” and anonymous “experts” were quoted sounding concerned, perplexed and outraged in turn. And, as is often the case with the cases reported by Christopher Booker, MP John Hemming was involved, and he made assertions of fact and claims about injustice suffered by the woman and child concerned, suggesting he would raise the case in the House.
JUDGMENT WITH REGARDS TO FORCED C SECTION MOTHER AND REMOVAL OF BABY AT BIRTH CASE
By close of play on Monday 2 December all sorts had pitched in:
John Hemming MP said he would raise the matter in Parliament
An MP is to raise the case of a woman who he says had her baby forcibly removed by Caesarean section, and taken by social services in Essex.
Liberal Democrat John Hemming said the Italian woman had had a panic attack linked to her bipolar disorder and was sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
She was sedated after authorities obtained a court order.
Essex County Council, which allegedly took the baby into care, said it could not comment on “ongoing” cases.
It is understood the woman was pregnant when she came to the UK to work for Stansted Airport in 2012.
Up for adoption
Mr Hemming, MP for Birmingham Yardley and chairman of the Justice for Families Campaign, said he planned to raise the case in Parliament.
He claims to have seen documents proving Essex social services obtained a court order for a Caesarean section, and for the child to be taken into care.
He said the girl, who is now 15 months old, was still in the care of Essex social services and was being put up for adoption.
Solicitor Brendan Fleming issued a statement in which he said he had been instructed by the woman’s lawyers but would not discuss the case.
“We remain committed to fighting for our clients and shall fight tooth and nail to help mother be reunited with her baby,” it said.
Our question to you this week then,
is this: Were Essex County Council
right to do what they did?
Walter Graff Award Winning Producer, Director, Editor, DP, Broadcast and Media Consultant and Polymath
A 2000 production by WCVB-TV in Boston describing the unjust ‘domestic violence ‘ law in Massachusetts and its destructive impact on families and personal relationships.
Dear National Parents Organization Member:
The Board of Directors of National Parents Organization thanks you for making National Parents Organization the nation’s foremost voice for shared parenting, family law reform, and gender equality in family law.
Preserving the bond between parents and children,
Ned Holstein, MD, MS
P.S. Give to bring justice to family law for our children.
Till now our coalition of Wallies have been scared to mention immigration for fear of being branded Racist when it is in fact our Resources that stand to suffer!
Is it fare that our elderly, including immigrants who came to Britain after WW2 should wait at the back of the line for a hip operation or the like having paid into the system for 50 or more years when an expectant mother can travel the full length of Mainland Europe passing Germany and France cross the channel and enjoy our now international Health Service FOC! Even LBC 973 advertises what we a UK citizens should do if we fall ill abroad and that is to take sufficient insurance cover.
If coming to Britain in search for work, immigrants should be expected to bring 5 years of Health Insurance and Unemployment insurance. It is grossly unfair that we pay Millions a day in to the European Central Bank for a stealth German occupation by an un-elected European State in Brussels ? Funny some one else had similar designs 70+ years ago before we had such a welfare system!
In the next month David Cameron has a decision to make. Will he support pay rises for his peers as he has recently done for banker’s bonuses, or will he prove we’re ‘all in this together’ and refuse a pay rise to show they are willing to sacrifice like many have across the UK?
Over 160,000 of you have signed my petition to ask David Cameron to refuse the 11% pay rise for MPs.
Having read through all the petition comments it’s clear this has become a symbol of how unhappy we are with the current government and the crippling cuts and changes to policy, mostly unreported by the mainstream media.
We’re 160,000 strong now. Imagine if we all got three people to sign this petition, imagine how big we’d be. We need to show David Cameron that there is huge public opposition to the pay rise.
Help us get there — please forward the email below to tell at least three people to sign this petition.
Many thanks again for your support.
I’m supporting Tanya’s campaign calling for David Cameron to stop the 11% pay rise for MPs.
A pay rise of this size is the salt in the wound for disadvantaged people who haven’t had a pay rise in years. Some of these people are receiving pay cuts, or worse, redundancy.
David Cameron is due to make a decision in the next few months. We need as many people as possible to sign the petition to show that the public do not support an 11% MP pay rise.
Please help us and sign the petition here: http://chn.ge/1i1MU0P
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