Abduction allegation inaccurate, council says

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Essex County Council is considering legal action over accusations that its social workers 'abducted' two young brothers.

Solicitors acting for the council secured two High Court injunctions yesterday preventing disclosure of the children's names or information being sought from their foster parents.

A report in yesterday's Spectator magazine said the boys, both under 10, were taken into care despite there being no suspicion that they had ever been abused or neglected.

The council said the article was inaccurate and had been passed to its lawyers. Custody of the children and parental access to them had been challenged on more than one occasion in the High Court. Both boys had been wards of court.

Concern over social service departments seeking custody of young children has increased following the Cleveland and Orkney affairs. The new Children Act is intended to give clear guidelines on care orders but did not apply in the Essex case as the children were taken into care before it came into effect in October 1991.

The children were described by the Spectator as well-nourished and physically healthy while the parents were uneducated but loving and caring. Their home was said to be a shabby council house.

The mother was quoted as saying social workers threatened when she was pregnant with her younger child that the baby would be removed. ' . . . I told the social worker he had no reason. He said: 'Don't worry, we'll find one'.'

The family doctor was said to have opposed the care order and maintained inexperienced social workers had been responsible. The Department of Health said the case had been examined by the Social Services Inspectorate.

'We are satisfied that the authority concerned acted within the law,' a spokesman said.