Page last updated at 16:38 GMT, Tuesday, 3 February 2009

DNA father to take case to Europe

A man who sued his ex-wife for fraud for letting him believe another man's child was his daughter is to take his fight to the European courts.

Mark Webb, 47, lost a bid to sue Lydia Chapman and her daughter Elspeth's biological father for 100,000 for 17 years of "deception".

He told BBC Radio 5 Live he was not doing it for the money but "it's about stopping the pain" for other families.

Ms Chapman's lawyer said the legal case had caused the family "untold anguish".

Mr Webb tried to sue his former wife for paternity fraud but the claim was rejected by Bournemouth County Court.

Two weeks ago, the Appeal Court refused permission for him to appeal against that ruling.

The anxiety it has caused the family is untold
Nick Turner
Lydia Chapman's lawyer

But Mr Webb said he wanted to continue with his campaign at the European Court of Human Rights despite it causing him to lose contact with Elspeth, now 23, and one of his own daughters.

Mr Webb, of Wiltshire, told the Victoria Derbyshire show that he wanted to "establish a clarity" on paternity law.

He claims DNA evidence should be used retrospectively in paternity cases, in the same way it is old crimes.

And in a case like his, the Child Support Agency should make the biological father pay back the duped father.

"There is no recourse for anybody to ask for that money back," he said.

'Private tragedy'

He said discovering Elspeth was not his child was "devastating" and he hoped to become reconciled with her.

Ms Chapman's lawyer, Nick Turner, said that she accepted what happened "wasn't the best thing to do".

But Elspeth is "a delightful, lovely girl and brought much happiness to the family".

He said it was a "private tragedy" that should have remained private.

"It caused her [Ms Chapman] a great deal of emotional pain and has dominated her life for the last six years. The anxiety it has caused the family is untold."

Ms Chapman's new husband, Max Lehneis, contacted the programme and said: "How can you as a human being trade the love of your children for money.

"I know this man, and his only reasons are vengeance and monetary compensation.

"We as a family have lived through this for the past six years and know what Mr Webb's real intentions are. Nothing and no-one can convince us that there are any genuine reasons behind his actions."

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