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Exonerated Couple Asks for Children Back
December 12, 2008 permalink
After being cleared by the courts, Nicky and Mark Webster want their children back. The children were adopted out while false charges were pending against the parents.
One of their children had a food allergy requiring a diet of only soya milk. The vitamin C deficiency in this diet led to secondary problems from scurvy, which British child protectors attributed to child abuse.
The courts now agree that no abuse took place, but that does not give the family their children back. This family appeared before in this blog on September 16, 2007.
Norfolk couple's court bid to get children back
04 December 2008 16:22
A Norfolk couple today launched a legal bid for a landmark ruling that they should be reunited with their three children, who were forcibly adopted almost four years ago amid abuse allegations.
A top QC told London's Appeal Court that Nicky and Mark Webster were victims of a “terrible miscarriage of justice” after being accused of inflicting multiple fractures on their baby boy.
The couple, from Mill Road, Cromer are battling to persuade top judges that their baby son's injuries were due to a modern case of scurvy, brought on by his acute eating problems, which saw him existing on an exclusive diet of soya milk.
The boy, referred to as “B” in court, was taken into care with his two older siblings after doctors said his injuries were “non accidental” and they have now all been adopted.
Their parents have not seen them since January 2005, when they were aged five, three and two.
The couple made national headlines in 2006 when they fled to Ireland to have their fourth child, Brandon, fearing that he would also be taken from them. They are expecting their fifth child next year.
In London's Appeal Court, their counsel Mr Ian Peddie said the time had come to clear their name and for a court to publicly acknowledge they should never have been separated from their children.
He added that, even if the court ruled it was too late to go back on the children's adoption, it was “vital” that they should be told the truth and that Mr and Mrs Webster should be allowed to see their children.
The barrister said the events unfolded in November 2003 when “B” was suffering from “extreme eating problems”, which meant he could take no solids and had an aversion to cow's milk. He lived exclusively on soya milk, which contained no vitamin C.
He was having trouble walking and, after his mother twice took him to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N(, doctors discovered six fractures which were said to have occurred over a 14-day period. Medics concluded the injuries were non-accidental.
In May 2004, a judge found that either Mr or Mrs Webster had caused the injuries and all three children were taken into care. The QC said they were advised not to appeal.
However, after Brandon's birth in May 2006 an American professor of forensic paediatrics investigated the case and concluded that all of the injuries could have been caused by vitamin deficiency and scurvy.
One of the doctors who originally ruled the injured were non-accidental later accepted that they could have been caused by scurvy.
Other experts had reported since that “abusive trauma was not a sustainable conclusion” for B's injuries given the bone weakness that was a recognised symptom of scurvy and that the injuries were the result of “normal handling of abnormal bones”.
The court heard the two oldest children were placed together with an adoptive family in 2005. The youngest child was placed on his own, although the siblings are allowed to have contact with each other annually.
Mr Peddie told Lord Justice Wall, who is hearing the case with Lord Justice Moore-Bick and Lord Justice Wilson: “The miscarriage of justice needs to be corrected and the children need to know the truth.
“This was beyond a mistake. We say this is a case where there has been a fundamental injustice, a denial of natural justice.”
He said it was an “exceptional” case where the children's adoptive placements could be cancelled, enabling their return to their parents.
Barbara Connolly, representing both sets of adoptive parents, said that, for the children, the adoptions meant they were now with their “forever families”.
“To overturn that has enormous implications. They have been very much part of their families now for well over three years.”
She said allowing an appeal in which biological parents were pitted against the children's adoptive parents would create a “destructive situation” for the children.
The judges said that they would reserve their decision on the case until a later date - probably in the New Year.
Source: EDP24 Norfolk (UK)