Parents lose baby in ‘miscarriage of justice’ – Good Morning Britain

Children|October 9th 2015

I got up very very early this morning to travel down to the ITV studios on London’s South Bank for an appearance on the Good Morning Britain sofa, with presenters Ben Shephard and Kate Garraway.

The topic under discussion was the shocking case of Karrissa Cox and her boyfriend Richard Carter. In an understandably controversial case, this couple’s baby had been taken into care and adopted against their wishes because they were suspected of cruelty towards the infant. Doctors found bruising and bone fractures, only for it to later emerge that the baby in fact had the bone disorder rickets, and bruised more easily than other babies due to a blood condition.

But tragically for this young couple, by the time they were acquitted of cruelty in a criminal trial, their baby had already been adopted. This may seem extraordinary – incomprehensible even, and of course I do not know the full facts of the case. But I would imagine that the family courts and judges who oversaw the adoption genuinely believed there was no reason to doubt the medical evidence then available.

The family courts must be satisfied that ‘nothing else will do’ when they order something as drastic as adoption and presumably they were in this case.

Great emphasis is placed these days on speedy resolution of care, adoption and fostering cases in the family courts. Delay is not seen as in the best interests of the child. Good intentions lie behind this pressure to move quickly.

Social workers and medical staff are also under enormous pressure to pick up on and respond to any indications of abuse. No one wants another Baby P.

Equally, I imagine, situations like the one facing this young couple were not foreseen. It’s an awful set of circumstances and it is hard to see a way forward for them. By its very nature adoption is intended to be final, a mark of permanence and stability in a needy child’s life. It is rare indeed for adoptions to be overturned.

As I told the viewers this morning, there is no question that this was a catastrophic miscarriage of justice. What lay behind it? There was the initial misdiagnosis of course, and as we see in the interesting examination of the medical evidence provided by Garden Court Chambers here, one contributory factor to that may have been a failure to consider the possibility of vitamin D deficiency. It’s clear also that there was too much reliance on one medical expert from the outset and an equally obvious reluctance on the part of the prosecution to consider the possibility that their expert might be wrong until no less than three and a half years had passed.

The spectre of legal aid rears its ugly head here too: these unfortunate parents were unable to fight the adoption or consult other medical experts because they were refused funding.

Should the adoption order be set aside? Public policy suggests not. The child’s welfare is paramount. If the baby has been settled with the adoptive parents for several years, the emotional harm inflicted by removing him or her now could be considerable. (We are not allowed to know the child’s gender by court order).

I am reminded of the 2009 case involving a Mr and Mrs Webster. The couple in question lost three children to adoption after they were suspected of deliberately injuring one. When medical exonerated them, the parents applied to have the adoption orders set aside and their children returned to them. They were unsuccessful. In a Court of Appeal ruling, former President of the Family Division Lord Justice Wall declared:

“…however heartbreaking it may be for Mr and Mrs Webster, those orders must stand.”

An unhappy precedent. Lord Justice Wilson – now Lord Wilson of the Supreme Court – added this telling observation to the judgement:

“I have spent a professional life-time working in our family justice system. With reservations, I remain reasonably content with the way in which it usually operates and I am proud to have a role in it. This application, however, makes me profoundly uncomfortable.”

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  1. Adrian Berkeley says:

    This is happening too often! I had a case, details confidential because it is a child matter, where I acted for the Aunty and Uncle of a baby born to drug addict parents who supported my clients. Both parents were in residential treatment programs for at least a further 4 months.

    Child Services pushed ahead with an adoption! Why, there were other options: my clients were prepared to foster the baby long term-which would keep the baby’s heritage; or the adoption could be delayed for 6 months.

    But the Child/Social Services pushed ahead because it “is in the interests of the child to be adopted as soon as possible”. Surely a baby of a few weeks old does not benefit from this attitude at all?

    The Court was not interested in other realistic options, because if they were “realsistic surely Child/Social Services would have not applied for a Freeing Up Order”!

    To add insult to injury, the clients complained to the LSO that I gave them false hope when I said “you will eventually win-but perhaps it will have to go to the Highest Courts in the Land!” I had to refund 200% of my fee, and the Court Fees and pay a large fine!

    Just for trying to help someone in this type of unfortunate position.

  2. Jean Eveleigh says:

    This is by no means the first time this has happened there are hundreds of families up and down the country that are in this situation of forced adoption (where adoptions are granted without the consent of the birth parents), children are never given back to birth families we are just left to live with the misery of the loss and hope that one day our children will want to find us and ask why they were taken from us.

  3. Witheld says:

    My grandaughter is going through same thing about time it was stopped

  4. JamesB says:

    With re to him being content. Well, with that amount of salary and arse kissing he got I think I know where that feeling comes from. I don’t think it comes from doing good. Possibly ‘learned friends’ telling him he made the best of a bad situation when the opposite is the case. The backside kissing is to get on Judges good books, is really bad establishment nepotism.

    With my case the barrister for my ex and Judge and Cafcass officer met and descided before the hearing how it would go. They don’t respect anyone but themselves and other establishment people. Like Drs. Problem is more often than not establishment people are wrong and only in the job due to nepotism and privaledged upbringing and contacts and so the circle continues with politicians being ex lawyers also.

    • Elizabeth Hersey says:

      I think these cases are decided before as well, aside from the death penalty the harshest thing a judge can do is remove children from a parent. In the UK it’s farcical. I had my children taken from me, I’m a doctor and a non- biological father, who never cared for my children, never adopted them and we were never married had my son extradited back from the US. A boyfriend that I had not been with for more than 3 1/2 years has my children right now. Children and lives are damaged by this abuse of power.

  5. Mike Cox says:

    The fact that around 30% of adoptions end in failure rather undermines the Court’s public policy argument that adoption should never be overturned! This case, and that of the Websters before it, is disgraceful. Forced adoption is an inhumane and immoral practice and the sooner it stops, the better.

  6. Nordic says:

    When this adopted child grows up he or she will want to know who its biological parents were and why it was given up for adoption. Every adopted child goes in search of its biological roots. Without exception. Now imaging how that child will feel if, or more likely when, he or she learns the appalling truth. That it was taken from its real parents in a rushed judgement that overly relied on a single paid expert’s flawed evidence. Imaging that child’s trauma.
    And what about the biological parents? Grieving for the loss of the child as had it died. Imaging their life long trauma.
    Why was a case involving criminal allegations heard in the family courts, with their low and inadequate standard of proof? Why did the court not await conclusion of the criminal case? Why did the judge not seek a second expert opinion? How did “the best interest of the child” become an excuse for failing to correct gross miscarriages of justice? How can we possibly know that this child will be better of growing up with its adopted rather than its biological parents?

  7. jim whitehead says:

    Social Services are so corrupt snd people should be aware of this so this story is no surprise to those in the know, Social services are only aware of their own assumptions and theories not what people say.

    • Mel says:

      So so true o have had a massive traumatic court case me and my sons are highly traumatised im under the mental health again one don in another country in a very bad way snd I can’t do nothing my other don sho now 18 fighting the social services they have destroyed my sons DNS there futures and I have tried to take my own life I camnot bare the loss my first son died all that was used against me having epbd and lupus his dad failed 2 drug and alcohol test in one year it went from private to public law cost millions and they made the worst descion and we are all suffering im so scared for my children and I can’t protect them can’t do anything and I am a nervous wreck my sons both suicidal and no one cares

  8. jim whitehead says:

    Social Services are so corrupt snd people should be aware of this so this story is no surprise to those in the know, Social services are only aware of their own assumptions and theories not what people say. beware of Social services, they destroy more families than they will ever help.

  9. Parents lose baby in ‘miscarriage of justice’ @GMB @ITVLorraine @itvthismorning @itvpresscentre @itvlondon @itvnews @ITV @replies @loosewomen | World4Justice : NOW! Lobby Forum. says:

    […] I got up very very early this morning to travel down to the ITV studios on London’s South Bank for an appearance on the Good Morning Britain sofa, with presenters Ben Shephard and Kate Garraway. Whole Article […]

  10. Jerry Lonsdale says:

    Is anyone aware of the case a little over two months ago whereby a Child revoked their own adoption order MRS JUSTICE PAUFFLEY decided upon the case, so while I understand the hurdles need to be overcome I would say that it is not impossible.

    Although one could argue this case is “Different” and the circumstances were that the Child applied to revoke herself, it shows that while adoption orders are “Forever” they can in the circumstance be revoked,

    I recently lost an Important Post Adoption Contact Human Rights case with a birth mother I was supporting, I know the hurdles with any application that could cause change in the adoption process is dealt with exceptional caution I do feel that as we see here in this most godawful case and likewise with the Websters whose children were adopted in 2007, [the 2009 reference is for the appeal they lost] surely now with public angst, legal and other professional angst there should be no qualms with having the applications for revocations heard and dealt with swiftly but there must be a sever degree of caution given and above all else we should leave the justice wheels to turn on their own accord and outside influence to be kept to a minimum, this matter should be dealt with by the Judge, parents and their legal reps, no one else.

    The Pauffley Judgment is one of exceptional circumstance I should add

  11. Danielle says:

    I am going through a case myself, i am currently appealing the adoption case of my child who i believe was wrongfully taken from me, it breaks my heart but all i can do is keep fighting and i won’t give up!

  12. JamesB says:

    To clarify my earlier point. These Judges are on ridiculous salaries for the mistakes they make and the bad job they often do. hundreds of thousands on a par with Bankers.

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