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Bid to block programme fails

PUBLISHED: 10:16 10 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:59 22 October 2010

A Norfolk couple pleaded with the BBC to pull a prime time programme last night because they feared it could scupper their best chance of keeping their new-born son.

A Norfolk couple pleaded with the BBC to pull a prime time programme last night because they feared it could scupper their best chance of keeping their new-born son.

But the broadcasting giant stuck to its guns and screened the latest in the saga of Nicky Hardingham and husband Mark, who are at the centre of a child abuse controversy.

Now the Cromer couple, who fled to Ireland to have baby Brandon a fortnight ago, fear a 12-week residential assessment place could be withdrawn because of the nationwide publicity.

A source close to the case said the managers of the centre were less likely to take Nicky, Mark and Brandon in while their story was in the media spotlight.

If they pull out of the agreement - under which the couple would be put under intensive observation to see how they responded to their child - there are fears that Norfolk social services could run out of options and have to take Brandon into care.

Last night Lisa Christensen, director of social services at Norfolk County Council, said: “The family have said that they do want to work with us, but sadly the ongoing media attention is actually putting the plan that the parents and ourselves have agreed to at risk.”

The screening of Real Story: Don't Take My Baby came despite a plaintive plea from the couple's solicitors to the BBC.

But a BBC spokeswoman said: “Neither the family nor the council took any steps that could have stopped the programme, and that is why it went ahead.”

Today the council will ask a judge in Norwich to agree to an injunction that would severely restrict any further media coverage of the case.

Nicky and Mark are currently preparing to return to Norfolk.

The couple, whose three older children were adopted in Norfolk after one of them developed unexplained fractures, are pinning their hopes on proving their credentials as parents during the 12-week residential assessment.


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