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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 June 2007, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Couple likely to keep young son
The Websters fled to Ireland to stop their baby being taken away
A couple who fled to Ireland to stop their baby being taken into care have been assured they can keep him.

Norfolk County Council has told a High Court judge it was no longer relying on expert evidence of physical abuse which led to other children being taken away.

Following the allegations, Mark and Nicky Webster's three eldest children were taken away and adopted in 2003.

Mr Justice Holman heard that medical opinion now challenged the evidence of multiple fractures suffered by Child B.

Fresh evidence pointed to accidental fractures of fragile bones resulting from vitamin deficiency.

This could have been scurvy, a condition virtually unknown in modern times, said Kate Thirlwall QC, for the council.

She said the council is no longer seeking to establish that either parent caused Child B's injuries.

The local authority became involved after learning Mrs Webster was expecting a fourth child.

The couple went to Ireland, but were reassured by the council that, although care proceedings would be brought, the baby would stay with them.

Parenting assessed

The council was now satisfied their 13-month-old boy, was being "very well looked after".

The judge asked Norfolk County Council for an explanation of how it would have approached care proceedings for the other children if the new evidence had been available at the time.

He asked: "What position would have been taken in relation to physical injuries to Child B regarding removal of any of these children, let alone adoption?"

He further questioned how a child could develop scurvy through lack of nutrition in the 21st Century without people realising what is going on.

Mr Webster, from Cromer in Norfolk, said before the hearing there were no plans to try to get the older children back, because "adoption is adoption".

A Norwich County Court judge decided in December 2005 that one or other or both of the parents had injured Child B non-accidentally.

After returning from Ireland Mr and Mrs Webster's parenting was assessed before being allowed to take their baby home.

Miss Thirlwall told the judge on Tuesday the child's development was normal and he was "meeting his milestones".

"Brandon should remain where he is," she said.

Judge lifts family reporting ban
02 Nov 06 |  Norfolk

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