The Bramley Affair: Bramleys keep girls as custody war starts

THE COUPLE who flew back to Britain from their hideaway in Ireland insisted last night that the two foster daughters they had abducted were happy and healthy and had enjoyed an "exciting holiday".

After being questioned for hours by police, Jeff and Jenny Bramley issued a statement, claiming they had been forced to run away with half-sisters Jade and Hannah Bennett, aged five and three respectively, to escape the control of social services.

"The only thing we thought we could do was leave with the children. But as soon as we heard the social services would allow the court to take an independent look ... we arranged ... to return," they said.

The legal battle for custody of the two children was due to begin today in the High Court in London. Cambridgeshire social services said it was happy to allow the couple to care for the children until the courts decided their fate. The council insisted, however, that it would still object to the couple's application for adoption. "Our position has not changed," said a spokesman.

It was revealed last night that despite a number of reported sightings around Britain, the family had spent most, if not all, of the past four months in the Irish Republic.

Having driven from their Cambridgeshire home to York - where they dumped their car to leave a false trail - the couple travelled to a small seaside community on the south-east Atlantic coast. For part of the time, at least, they stayed at a caravan in Fenit, near Tralee, Co Kerry.

By leaving the country before they were reported missing by social services on 14 September, when they failed to return the two girls, the couple did not arouse suspicion at the Holyhead ferry terminal in North Wales.

Yesterday detectives from Cambridgeshire police spent several hours interviewing Mr and Mrs Bramley, under caution, at a police station outside the county. In a statement Detective Superintendent John Cummins said the pair had co-operated fully and had explained their "reasons for leaving ... their whereabouts and experiences during the 17 weeks they were away from home." He added that a file would be passed to the Crown Prosecution Service, which would decide whether the couple should face any charges. A decision is expected in days.

Social services were keen to stress that both girls had been examined by a doctor and were fit and well. While their foster parents were questioned, the girls played at a secret address.

The Bramleys flew back to Britain on Saturday night, arriving at Stansted airport, Essex, from Kerry.

Search team, page 2; Given the runaround, page 3.

In the Review section:

Letters, page 2; Leading article, page 3

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test