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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 January 2008, 17:19 GMT
Mother to fight bid to take baby
Baby feet (generic)
The baby was taken as part of a "birth plan"
A teenage mother who was reunited with her newborn baby by a High Court judge is facing a social services application to take the boy away again.

The baby was born to the 18-year-old, who has just left local authority care, in a Nottingham hospital on Wednesday.

The judge ruled the boy was taken without a court order. The care order hearing, which was referred up to Nottingham County Court, was adjourned.

Solicitor Stuart Luke said the mother opposes any move to take the boy away.

The case will resume on Friday.

Social services are applying for an interim care order to remove the child from the mother's care.

Mother and child were reunited 46 minutes after Mr Justice Munby's order
Stuart Luke, mother's solicitor

The boy was returned to his mother - who has mental health problems and was taken into care after running away from home and starting to take drugs - about nine hours after being taken by social services staff.

Mr Luke said she was also launching a claim for damages against social services officials "arising out of the unfortunate removal of her child without lawful authority shortly after his birth".

The baby was taken after staff at the hospital were shown a "birth plan" that was prepared by social workers.

TAKING A BABY INTO CARE
Concerns are raised about mother's capacity to care for yet-to-be born child
Pre-birth conference about six weeks prior to birth
Social workers try to agree a "birth plan" with parents
If disagreements arise, social workers can apply for interim care order from family court
Child is taken from mother but a further court appearance may be necessary to define specific terms of conditions
Legal advice taken by both sides during the process
Source: British Association of Social Workers

The plan said the mother, who had a troubled childhood, was to be separated from the child, and no contact would be allowed without supervision by social workers.

At the High Court, sitting in London, Mr Justice Munby said that "on the face of it" social services officials in Nottinghamshire had acted unlawfully because they had not obtained a court order.

He said removal of a child could only be lawful if a police constable was taking action to protect a child, or there was a court order in place.

Mr Luke, from the firm Bhatia Best, said: "Mother and child were reunited 46 minutes after Mr Justice Munby's order at 1209."

'Intervention powers'

John Coughlan from the Association of Directors of Children's Services, said the legal process was very clear.

"Every step of that process has got a very thorough series of checks and balances including independent representation across the piece for family, children and the local authorities, and very, very thorough court and judicial intervention powers," he said.

The judge said social services must put in place a package of care to meet the mother's immediate needs as a vulnerable person.

He also said the council must prepare a comprehensive amended "pathway plan" setting out proposals to assist her in the future by no later than 8 February.

BBC local government correspondent John Andrew said that in most cases where a new-born child is removed from a mother, she would be aware of this before the birth - except in cases where her prior knowledge might lead her to take flight.

Even when a council is granted an interim care order for the child, it is not uncommon for mothers to still have supervised contact with their baby, he added.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The care order application will be heard in a Nottingham court



SEE ALSO
Court orders return of new baby
31 Jan 08 |  Nottinghamshire
Surrogate mother must return boy
26 Jul 07 |  West Yorkshire
Swansea child protection concern
26 Jun 07 |  South West Wales
Babies 'removed to meet targets'
26 Jan 07 |  UK Politics

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