Fugitive family flies home

JEFF AND JENNY Bramley and their two foster children, Jade and Hannah Bennett, came out of hiding last night after 17 weeks on the run. They arrived at Stansted airport, Essex, on a flight from the Irish Republic, and were met by police and social workers.

It emerged that the Bramleys had agreed to return to Britain after "careful negotiations" during a series of telephone calls with social workers. It is believed that Mrs Bramley's brother, David Bodle, flew to the Irish Republic, to act as a go-between for the couple, after his sister made contact with him on Friday. Liz Railton, the director of Cambridgeshire social services, told a press conference that the children were safe and well.

They would remain with their foster parents at a safe address, pending a court hearing into a fresh adoption application by the Bramleys. Mr and Mrs Bramley are expected to be interviewed by police today.

The Bramleys, both 35, disappeared with Jade, five and Hannah, three, on 13 September last year, after being told they would not be allowed to adopt the youngsters. Jade and Hannah had been declared wards of court last Friday, said Ms Railton. She added that her department would continue to oppose their adoption by the Bramleys, and would have the opportunity to set out its reasons before the judge.

"Cambridgeshire county council continues to hold parental responsibility for Jade and Hannah," she told the press conference "but, given my approach, the judge has now made it clear that we can't exercise this responsibility without consulting the court. In other words, decisions about Jade and Hannah's future, both in the next few days and in the longer term can only be made with the agreement of the judge. Jade and Hannah's interests in any proceedings will be represented by the Official Solicitor, whose sole responsibility is to protect their interests."

Ms Railton said she had spoken to Mr Bramley, and that he appeared "calm and satisfied" with the arrangements that had been made.

"Mr and Mrs Bramley have been made parties to these proceedings. This means every time any decision is made their views must be considered. I hope that Mr and Mrs Bramley will now lodge their adoption application. There are now no barriers to prevent them from doing this."

"The police will interview Mr and Mrs Bramley ... and a doctor will see Jade and Hannah to check that they are fit and well. All the signs are that the little girls are fine, but we must make sure."

She continued: "I have fulfilled the terms of the open letter I wrote to Mr and Mrs Bramley last Thursday evening. My hope in writing that letter was to achieve the safe return of Jade and Hannah, which we now have.

"In writing that letter I had to take account of the continuing need for Cambridgeshire county council to maintain its view on what is best for these children. I cannot condone a situation where people who don't like what we've done run away with children. But I had to consider that if we could not achieve the safe return of Jade and Hannah we certainly could not resolve their futures.

Earlier yesterday it was revealed that Max Clifford, the press publicist, had been advising the couple through an intermediary. He said he had advised that the Bramleys should give themselves up.

Reports, page 3

Focus, page 20

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