Search

Baby couple face stay at centre

PUBLISHED: 08:18 09 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:59 22 October 2010

ED FOSS

A couple at the centre of a controversial alleged child-abuse case will face 12 weeks of intensive observation at a special assessment centre as soon as they return to Norfolk - possibly today.

A couple at the centre of a controversial alleged child-abuse case will face 12 weeks of intensive observation at a special assessment centre as soon as they return to Norfolk - possibly today.

Nicky Hardingham and her husband Mark fled to Ireland where she gave birth to their fourth child, Brandon.

They feared the tot would be taken from them after a judge ruled they should have their other three children adopted.

As has been widely reported, one of their three children received unexplained fractures which prompted an investigation by Norfolk social services, leading to the adoptions.

But the couple claim the injuries could be explained by a brittle-bone condition which they say affects four generations of Nicky's family.

Their stay in Ireland was due to end yesterday but they were apparently refused permission to board a Dublin-to-Norwich flight because Brandon is classed as premature and therefore too small to fly.

Whether or not the Cromer couple and their baby will be able to board a flight soon or will opt to make the trip by car and ferry was unclear last night. But assuming they do return, they are expected to have no other option than to go into a residential assessment centre with their baby.

Last night Nicky's brother, Wayne Hardingham, said family members had been hoping to meet his sister, Mark and Brandon at Norwich International airport on the 5.20pm arrival, but they had received a message calling it off.

He said: "Nicky said they would not allow Brandon on the flight because he was classed as premature. Whatever happened, there was a hiccup and they did not make it home. It is a real shame because she is very homesick now.

"But when they do get back, however that happens, it seems they will have no choice but to take a placement at the centre.

"The fear now is that they will come home and walk into a trap and once the 12 weeks are up they will have Brandon taken away whatever."

Norfolk County Council officers have continually defended their stance, but say they have been unable to give a "meaningful reply" to the allegations against social services because of tight restrictions on public comment into such cases.

Last night Meera Spillett, deputy director of children's services, said: "We have always said we want to work in co-operation with the family in the best interests of their baby.

"Whilst they are in Ireland, any assessment and decisions are made independently of us, by the Irish authorities, in accordance with their own legislative framework.

"As we have always said, if they return to Norfolk, we are ready to work with them."


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Eastern Daily Press