DCSIMG

'Social workers ripped our family apart for 10 years'

A GIRL who was taken into care because her mother was accused of child abuse has been reunited with her family after a ten-year ordeal.

The 16-year-old, snatched by social services at the age of six with her younger sister, returned home insisting her mother is innocent and the victim of a miscarriage of justice.

Her mother was accused of having Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP). Now widely discredited, it is said to be a psychological disorder which leads parents to induce or fabricate illness in their children.

Social services in Dumfries and Galloway refused to return the girls for a decade, insisting they were at risk. Seven years ago, they were put up for adoption and the youngest sister is still with her adoptive parents.

When the older daughter turned 16 earlier this year, she was no longer under the jurisdiction of the courts and chose to return home to her mother.

"I can remember when they took us away, but I didn't understand what was happening," said the teenager. "I was only six. I just remember sobbing.

"I would never want to see this happen to anyone else."

The mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, always denied harming the children. She says she will fight on to clear her name and is considering legal action.

She claims that her youngest daughter suffered from seizures and other health problems, and that friends and family knew this.

However, after numerous visits to her GP and hospital referrals, social services became suspicious and the woman was accused of having MSBP.

Although it is claimed there were never any physical signs of abuse, the children were taken into care in March 1998.

"I have done nothing wrong and yet my children were taken away from me," the mother said. "I didn't see my daughters for eight years but I never gave up fighting.

"My girls have been deprived of their childhood. That's something they can never get back."

Last night Eric Scott, the family lawyer, said: "I think there was a miscarriage of justice in this case. This requires a public inquiry, looking at how social work departments have been operating.

"A family supporter, the Rev Mike Coley, said he had known the mother for more than a decade and she was incapable of harming her children. He said: "

The children should never have been taken into care."

Dumfries and Galloway Council said it was normal practice to investigate if a child was potentially at risk.

TIMELINE

• March 1998 – The two girls, aged five and six, are taken into care after their mother is suspected of having the condition Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSPB).

• February 2001 – Mother loses legal battle to win back children, who are formally released for adoption.

• 2003 – Sally Clark's conviction for murdering her two young sons is overturned, casting doubt over MSPB.

• January 2004 – Scotsman inquiry reveals 12 parents in Scotland have been accused of having MSBP, resulting in 19 children being placed in care.

• 2008 – The eldest girl turns 16 and decides to return home to her mother.

BACKGROUND

A MOTHER or father is prevented from exercising their parental rights when their child is placed in care.

The children's hearing may or may not decide to allow parents access to a child taken into care.

A decision by the children's panel to take a child from the home can be appealed to the sheriff court by a parent within 21 days. A further appeal can be made to the Court of Session.

Parents have the right to ask for the decision to take their child into care to be reviewed after three months.

Legal aid is usually available to any parent who wishes to challenge such a decision.

 
 
 

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