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May 22, 2011 permalink
Vicky Haigh saves her baby from the clutches of the social workers
A British woman has given birth in Ireland to stop Nottinghamshire social workers from seizing her child, says Christopher Booker.
Readers may be pleased to know that Vicky Haigh, the former jockey and racehorse trainer who fled to Ireland so that her baby would not be seized at birth by Nottinghamshire social workers, has given birth in Limerick hospital to a daughter, Sapphire Roisin.
The social workers had told an Irish newspaper that they had "no plans to remove her child" – despite warning Miss Haigh in a letter last month that this was their intention. On the morning of the birth, the social workers sent a message to say they had been "liaising with social workers in Ireland" to arrange "a transfer Child Protection Conference". Miss Haigh has met an Irish social worker and health visitor, whom she describes as "lovely, normal people, completely different from the social workers I have dealt with in England". They are bemused by Nottinghamshire's interest in her child, since for six years she has had a happy family life with Sapphire's father, a loved stepmother to his three children.
I am forbidden to explain the reasons for the English social workers' intrusion into Miss Haigh's life by the extraordinary secrecy whereby the family court system protects its workings from public view. We can only identify her because earlier this month, under Parliamentary privilege, she was named in the Commons by John Hemming MP. Mr Hemming and I know much more of her story than either of us can disclose, which is why we are so anxious to champion her cause. We believe she has been the victim of a serious injustice. But, ironically, the fact that she has been publicly named means we can reveal less of her experiences than we could previously under a cloak of anonymity,
It is very hard for those outside this system to grasp just how complete is the omertá by which it operates. I was again attacked last week by a prominent legal blogger, for reporting on cases where the system appears to be going tragically wrong, without having sat for days in court to hear "both sides of the story".
This barrister compared me to a sports writer who cannot be bothered to watch a football match, but relies on a version given by one player after the game. But would a journalist attend a match when he is forbidden to name the teams or any of the players, may be imprisoned for disclosing much of what happens on the pitch, and is even prohibited from giving the final score? This is a better analogy for the secrecy which surrounds what goes on in our family courts. It is only remarkable how much of this corrupted system we can still manage, quite accurately, to bring to public view.
Source: Telegraph (UK)