Senior Partner Marilyn Stowe was invited to appear on ITV Good Morning Britain today following the story of and innocent young couple having their baby taken away and put up for adoption with little hope of return.
Richard Carter and Karrissa Cox took their baby to A&E after noticing bleeding from the baby’s mouth. Hospital staff found that the baby had abnormal bruising and healing fractures and was later removed from the parents and formally adopted. Subsequent medical evidence that was, at the time, unavailable proves Richard and Karrissa’s innocence as the baby was misdiagnosed and actually suffers from a blood condition and rickets. Despite this information, it looks highly unlikely that the couple will see the return of their baby.
BS: Ben Shephard
KG: Kate Garraway
MJS: Marilyn Stowe
BS: We are joined by family lawyer Marilyn Stowe, good morning to you.
MJS: Good morning
BS: It doesn’t bare thinking about; this thought is absolutely terrifying to hear from Richard and Karrissa there. Why can’t they have their child back?
MJS: Adoption is intended to be final. And the law is clear that if adoption has occurred as the result of a mistake, which is what happened here, the adoption order won’t be revoked. That’s the law from 2009 and it was made in a case which involved a very strong court of appeal.
BS: So with that in mind that adoption is so final, why was the adoption allowed to go ahead before the criminal case against Richard and Karrissa had been resolved?
MJS: I think this case rests on the basis that there was a big misdiagnosis of this child’s condition. This child appears to have had rickets and it was missed. Instead a doctor said that this child had been abused and there was evidence of fractures that were healing. Based on that, social services had to act. You’ve got to remember that they didn’t want another Baby P case. The threshold for abuse seems to have been passed. There will have been case management conferences, there will have been discussions, there will have been court hearings in the civil court and ultimately the court will have decided because the law is clear, adoption is only the last resort when nothing else will do.
KG: So why wasn’t fostering okay because it seemed to have been the sensible thing to do? You can understand them getting the child safe would be a huge priority but as Ben said, to go that extra level and finally shut down before ay proven guilt seemed an unwise move?
MJS: The court will have had medical evidence and will have based its decision on the medical evidence and the test is the balance of probabilities in a criminal case it’s beyond all reasonable doubt.
KG: But if they were clear that adoption was okay to go ahead, why then did the court case take so long to resolve? If the case was that clear, why did it take three years?
MJS: I think that the way the criminal case was run was fantastic. The defence were fantastic and they got hold of an expert who actually started to raise these points and say that this needs looking at but by then it was too late. The criminal process has taken a very long time to get to court and at the end of the day, I don’t think it was the court system that was wrong, it was the diagnosis at the beginning which triggered it all.
BS: Surrey County Council have released a statement “With any case like this we only have one thing in mind and that is the welfare of the child. This case was examined carefully by the family court and having heard all the evidence it took the view that it was appropriate for the child to be removed from their parents.” What options do they have now, Marilyn?
MJS: It’s one of those awful cases where you can’t see an option for them, it’s an absolute catastrophe.
BS: So is this a moment in law where the law needs to be changed? Because these two parents have wrongly had their child, as was pointed out earlier in one of our news reports, stolen from them.
MJS: This issue is public policy. The issue is that if an adoption order is made, it is intended to be final. And it can’t be because the whole status of the child is altered, the parents are altered. There is no question, this is a catastrophic miscarriage of justice, there’s no question about that.
KG: Terrible for all involved, there are no winners really there, are there.
BS: Marilyn Stowe thank you very much for joining us this morning.
To watch Marilyn’s full appearance click here.