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Family Denied Reunification
February 12, 2009 permalink
When we last mentioned the Webster family they were asking for return of their children wrongfully taken for adoption. The British courts have now given them an answer: No. It is an old answer. On April 21, 1999 Dave Brown reported on the case of Raymond Paquette, also denied reunification with his parents in a case in which the judge agreed the separation of parent and child was wrongful.
Couple wrongly accused of abusing their baby cannot have their children back because it is 'too late', court rules
By Tom Kelly, Last updated at 1:32 AM on 12th February 2009
A judge yesterday ruled that a couple will never see three of their children again even though he accepted they may have been wrongly accused of abusing them.
Mark and Nicky Webster's three eldest children were taken into care in 2004 after doctors claimed that six tiny fractures found on the middle child had been inflicted deliberately. All three were adopted.
Yesterday, in a failed attempt to have the adoption order overturned, the couple were told that even though they could be victims of a miscarriage of justice it was 'too late' for them to be reunited with their daughter and two sons.
In a devastating ruling, the judge said that as the youngsters are now settled with their adoptive families they would have to stay there - even though the original decision to take them away could have been wrong.
Last night, Mr Webster told the Daily Mail: 'I am very disappointed and hurt that we've been let down again. I haven't read the judgment yet so I can't comment on all the details but I do find it extraordinary that the judges say that there may have been a miscarriage of justice but still can't do anything about it.'
The couple's ordeal began in October 2003 when Mrs Webster took their second son to hospital with a painful, swollen leg.
He was found to have a number of small fractures which doctors said could be caused only by physical abuse.
All three children were placed in foster care and six months later, in a one-day court hearing, the children were permanently removed and swiftly offered for adoption.
Medical experts later concluded that the injuries were not caused by violent twisting and shaking, but were symptomsof scurvy. This now-rare deficiency is believed to have been caused by the family GP's advice that the child should be fed on soya milk, which is lacking in vitamin C.
The Websters have not seen their first three children since January 2005, when they were aged five, three and two.
They have always denied causing the fractures.
After the heartbreak of losing the children Mr Webster, 35, and his wife, 27, fled to Ireland in 2006 to stop their fourth child, Brandon, being taken into care at birth. He has never had contact with his siblings.
They later returned to their home in Cromer, Norfolk, where after a long legal battle Norfolk County Council dropped proceedings to take Brandon into care after accepting that he was in 'robust good health'.
Yesterday the Websters were left bitterly disappointed after the Court of Appeal rejected their bid to challenge the adoption order on their other children.
Lord Justice Wall, sitting with Lord Justice Moore-Bick and Lord Justice Wilson, said he had 'profound sympathy' for the couple, for whom the case had been a 'disaster', but ruled that the courts could do nothing for them.
He said: 'Mr and Mrs Webster believe that they have suffered a miscarriage of justice.
'They may be right. A family which might well have been capable of being held together, has been split up.'
But he said the case highlighted the 'finality' of adoption orders which can be revoked only in extremely limited circumstances.
'The court concluded that after three years it was in any event too late to set the orders aside, and that it would not be in the interests of the children to do so.'
He added: 'If there is a lesson to be learned from the case it is the need to obtain second opinions on injuries to children at the earliest opportunity, particularly in cases where, as here, the facts are unusual.'
Lisa Christensen, director of children's services at Norfolk County Council, said she sympathised with the Websters but believed the authority was 'absolutely right' to refer the matter to the courts when details of the fractures were first identified on their second child.
Source: Daily Mail