Another couple flee to France only to have their baby taken away
By Christopher Booker
6:23PM GMT 09 Nov 2013
"Last year I reported the shocking story of Marie Black and Joe Ollis who escaped to France for the birth of their first child, after learning that Norfolk social workers intended to seize it at birth on the grounds that Marie had previously been in a violent relationship with another man, who was by then out of her life. The social workers tracked down the couple and, after baby Luna was born, returned, with the approval of a British judge, to deport the child to England."
"Fortunately, the couple had been put in touch with a robust British solicitor, Brendan Fleming, who took their case to the High Court. Here, a more senior judge ruled that, since Luna was born in France and was therefore, under an EU law called Brussels II, “habitually resident” there, the British authorities had no jurisdiction over her. He ordered the social workers to return the baby to her parents in France."
"Far from our social workers having learnt any lesson from this case, I have lately been following one which is almost a carbon copy. Another couple fearful that Bedfordshire social workers might seize their first child at birth, again on the grounds that the mother had previously been in an abusive relationship, set off to start a new life in France. A few days ago their baby was born in a French hospital, by caesarean section, and given a French birth certificate. The next day, the mother returned from a shower, covered only in a bath towel, to find her room filled with 10 French policemen and her baby gone."
"The policemen were holding a piece of paper indicating that they had been sent by Interpol, at the instigation of the British authorities, to remove the child on the grounds that the mother was a dangerous woman who might harm her baby. The couple were shocked to see that much of the description of her was factually wrong. It was also clear that they could only have been traced by someone hacking into emails they had sent since their arrival in France. The French social workers had removed the baby on “orders from Britain”, but could not otherwise have been more friendly, allowing the couple to see their baby, who had been taken to an orphanage an hour’s drive away. They were horrified to see their child lying in a room full of cots containing other babies."
"The mother had already been in touch with Marie Black and Brendan Fleming (although there is still no order from a British court to authorise all that has happened). When the couple appeared in a French court to contest the demand that their baby be deported, the judge was shown a statement citing the Marie Black judgment, making clear that, since Britain had no jurisdiction over the child, deporting her would be illegal. The judge, seemingly out of her depth, adjourned the case, suggesting that it should be heard by a more senior judge in three weeks’ time. We may hope that the new judge can recognise that the law is clear, and that the British authorities had no legal right to arrange what amounted to an act of kidnapping. Meanwhile, a note from Marie Black glowingly reports that 21-month-old Luna has just started attending a toddler group and that all is well."
"In due course, I hope to be able to report that this new case has come to a similarly happy ending. "
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