Page last updated at 14:19 GMT, Wednesday, 15 July 2009 15:19 UK

Family adoption fight taken to PM


The child's parents talk about how their daughter was taken from them at the age of five

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been asked to look at the case of a seven-year-old girl being put up for adoption after a long-running legal battle.

Last week, appeal judges ruled against the Sussex child's parents who tried to stop the adoption going ahead.

Wealden MP Charles Hendry said there was no suggestion the girl's wellbeing was at threat at her Hailsham home, and asked for a meeting with Mr Brown.

The prime minister said either he or a minister would meet the MP.

These cases go through the courts and can do lasting damage to the child and the parents can't ever hope to match the resources
Wealden MP Charles Hendry

During Prime Minister's question time, Mr Hendry said the girl was being proposed for permanent adoption "even though there's no suggestion of her well-being at threat at home".

He added: "East Sussex has a very good reputation for children's services.

"But do you share my concern that too often these cases go through the courts and can do lasting damage to the child and the parents can't ever hope to match the resources being allocated by the local authorities.

"Will you have a meeting with me and others so we can discuss this to ensure that the children's interest will be paramount and parents can be ensured of fair hearings?"

Mr Brown said: "Local authorities are unable to place a child for adoption with respective adopters without their parents consent unless they have a placement order issued by the court."

And he said: "I do tell you we've tried to streamline the family courts to make them far more responsive to the needs of all concerned, and particularly the children."

Father handcuffed

Last week, appeal judges heard the case of the family, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had involved 73 hearings.

Mr Justice Bodey said there were no grounds for challenging a finding by a Brighton County Court judge who granted the adoption orders, that the girl was at risk of psychological harm.

He refused the couple permission to appeal against adoption orders granted to East Sussex County Council.

Alison Ball QC, representing the mother, had said that chaotic and unsanitary conditions at the family home in 2007 were not typical and the man, 32, and woman, 43, were good parents.

The court heard there had been one confrontation at the home in April 2007, when the girl saw her father handcuffed by police.

The child, then five, was removed from her home within hours, and had been in foster care ever since.

Miss Ball said the daughter had been happy at home.

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Couple lose fight to keep child
08 Jul 09 |  Sussex

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