Page last updated at 14:48 GMT, Thursday, 4 December 2008

Parents in court to 'clear names'

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Mark and Nicky Webster say they are the victims of a miscarriage of justice

A Norfolk couple at the centre of a legal battle over their children were the victims of a "terrible miscarriage of justice", a court has heard.

Nicola and Mark Webster, from Cromer, denied abuse allegations which led to three other children being adopted.

At the Court of Appeal, their QC asked judges to "clear their names".

"The miscarriage of justice needs to be corrected and the children need to know the truth", Ian Peddie QC told the three judges hearing the case.

'Enforced separation'

One child, 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 just five, three and two.

Their QC urged judges to view this was an "exceptional" case where the children's adoptive placements could be cancelled, enabling their return to their natural parents.

Mr Peddie told the court that, even if the court ruled it was now too late to go back on the children's adoption three years ago, it was vital that they learned the truth and that Mr and Mrs Webster should be allowed to see their children.

In May 2004, a judge found after hearing expert medical evidence that either Mr or Mrs Webster had caused the child's injuries and all three children were taken into care.

"Their suffering has been unimaginable", said Mr Peddie, who told the court that the Websters' main concern was to clear their names and ensure that their children "know the truth" about the circumstances of the family's enforced separation.

The judges have already signalled their intention to reserve their decision to a later date.

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