MP takes parents' fight for daughter to the PM

A COUPLE'S fight to stop their seven-year-old daughter being put up for adoption has been taken to the Prime Minister.

Hailsham MP Charles Hendry has backed the parents' protracted court battle and raised the case with Gordon Brown during Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons last Wednesday.

Mr Hendry's intervention comes after appeal judges prevented the couple from challenging a court ruling saying the girl was at risk of psychological harm at her Hailsham home.

As reported in last week's Gazette, the girl, then aged five, was taken into care in 2007 after witnessing her parents' confrontation with police at their home.

Judges were told by the couple's lawyer that unsanitary conditions at the house were not typical and the girl, aged five at the time, was happy at home.

But the Court of Appeal said any improvement in the parents' attitudes was 'too little and too late' to give them the chance of trying to overturn an adoption placement order.

The 32-year-old father and his 43-year-old wife, neither of whom can be named for legal reasons, were refused permission to appeal against the order.

But, speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Hendry said there was no suggestion the girl's wellbeing was at threat and asked to discuss the issue with Mr Brown. The Prime Minister said either he or a minister would meet the MP.

Mr Hendry asked Mr Brown, "Does he share my concern that too often these cases go through the courts in a manner that can do lasting damage to the child and that parents cannot ever hope to match the resources being allocated by the local authorities?

"Will he have a meeting with me and others, so we can discuss this in order to ensure that the children's interests will be paramount and that parents can be assured of a fair hearing?"

In response, the Prime Minister said it was difficult for him to discuss individual cases publicly, but that he or a minister would meet Mr Hendry.

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

"I should tell him (Mr Hendry) that we have tried to streamline the family courts to make them far more responsive to the needs of all concerned, particularly the children."

A spokesman for Mr Hendry told the Gazette the MP was compiling background information on the case ahead of a meeting with either Mr Brown, or children's secretary Ed Balls.

The parents have publicly stated their intention to challenge the ruling in the European court system.