Coventry & Warwickshire

Council violated human rights of mother and baby

Coventry City Council violated a mother and her newborn daughter's human rights by taking away the baby shortly after birth, the High Court has ruled.

The mother had delivered the girl during emergency surgery.

The court heard she was on morphine when she consented to a request from social workers to take the newborn child. She had earlier refused.

The authority has apologised, agreed to pay damages and begun an internal investigation.

Handing down his judgement at London's High Court, Mr Justice Hedley said there was an "overwhelming" case that the child, now six months old, be put up for adoption.

'Finely balanced judgements'

But he said he doubted that her mother had been legally capable of consenting to the request at the time because of the effects of taking the pain-killing drug.

A council spokesperson said: "These kinds of decisions are always very difficult to make and finely balanced judgements have to made on the capability of a mother to consent to the removal of a child.

"In this case the judge felt, and we in retrospect agree, that we got the process for making the decision wrong and we apologise."

The authority confirmed that the woman, whose other children have been taken into care as well, has asked that the money awarded be used on therapy for her.

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