No announcement yet.

Suffolk County Council

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Suffolk County Council

    Vindicated: Mother, 24, who fled to Spain when social services ruled she was 'unfit' to bring up child is allowed to keep her daughter
    • Suffolk Country Council deemed Megan Coote, 24, who suffers learning difficulties unfit before baby was even born
    • Miss Coote and her mother fled to Alicante where she gave birth to Olivia
    • U-turn: Council have now allowed Miss Coote to keep her daughter whom they said was making 'excellent progress'
    • Coote family 'furious' council has not issued an apology
    • Spent three months in Spain and £12,000
    • MP John Hemming backs family and brands experts used in family courts as 'unreliable'

    The family of a young mother who fled to Spain to stop social services taking her baby demanded an apology yesterday after health workers confirmed the girl was thriving under her care.

    Megan Coote, who has mild learning difficulties, was told she would have to hand over her child because of concerns over its emotional development.

    Instead, she moved to Alicante where she gave birth to her daughter, Olivia.

    She returned only after her parents were granted a court order allowing them to share her parental responsibilities – meaning she was certain she could keep her baby.

    Now Miss Coote, 24, wants to highlight what she says are the dangers posed by social workers who wield the power to tear families apart.

    ‘I have proven the social workers wrong,’ she said. ‘They made the wrong decision.’

    Her father Dale, a 47-year-old businessman, said: ‘We have just had Olivia’s two-year check and a health worker said she was well advanced and interacting with everyone perfectly. They were absolutely over the moon with her.

    ‘That made me think that social services had made a mistake and hadn’t apologised.

    ‘They haven’t apologised to my wife, who lost three stone when she went to Spain with Megan, or to my daughter for what they put her through.

    ‘They made her feel like dirt and she was talking about taking her own life if they took her daughter away.’

    Miss Coote, who was diagnosed with learning difficulties as a child, became pregnant in 2009. Suffolk social services carried out an assessment which flagged up concerns about her low IQ and inability to show emotion, which it said meant she could not look after a baby.

    Child protection officers also claimed Olivia’s father – from whom Miss Coote had separated – had a bad record with social services, but refused to give further details. Miss Coote’s father and mother Lorraine, 45, offered themselves as potential foster parents but realised staff did not favour their application after a report criticised the fact Mr Coote had smacked his three children to discipline them

    In February 2010, Miss Coote and her mother drove to Spain, where she gave birth a week later. The family spent £12,000 on accommodation and other costs until they were assured mother and child would not be separated.

    A five-minute court hearing in January last year confirmed a ‘residence order’, meaning Miss Coote would live with her parents in Kesgrave, near Ipswich, and Olivia could be taken off the at-risk register. Mr Coote, who owns three companies involved with the construction, container and motor industries, said: ‘When Megan came back from Spain an independent team of social workers were assigned to her.

    ‘They eventually apologised for interfering in our lives and said there was never any need for them to be involved.

    ‘I have phoned the council nine times to discuss the case and get an apology but they will not have a meeting with me.’

    His daughter added: ‘I would tell other mothers in the same situation to keep fighting. You have to believe in yourself and know that you are a good mother.’

    Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, the chairman of campaign group Justice for Families, accused social workers of removing children from families for ‘spurious reasons’ and said experts used in family courts were ‘unreliable’.

    He added: ‘They remove babies from people who are never given the chance to prove they are good parents – and even when there are good grandparents around. The Government should stop being complacent and take action.’

    Suffolk county council said it was ‘delighted that everything has continued to go well’ for the family. A spokesman said: ‘When concerns about the wellbeing of a child are brought to the attention of children’s services, we have a duty to investigate.

    ‘Over the past two years, childcare professionals have had a very positive working relationship with the family.’

    Asked about apologising for the Cootes’ treatment, they added: ‘We are more than happy to speak with the family when they feel the need to contact us.’

    Attached Files