Baby is seized from 'too old' family

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A couple who say they lost custody of their 17-month-old granddaughter after a court ruled they were too old yesterday vowed to fight on.

A couple who say they lost custody of their 17-month-old granddaughter after a court ruled they were too old yesterday vowed to fight on.

Friends and neighbours of the 66-year-old man and his wife, aged 63, held a protest rally outside their home in Runcorn, Cheshire. The couple, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have looked after their son's daughter since she was three weeks old. They are said to be "extremely devastated".

A family friend, Chris Beardsmore, said a petition has been signed by more than 1,000 well-wishers and the pensioners are seeking legal advice. He claims the child was "snatched" by social services yesterday before her grandfather was able to say goodbye.

Mr Beardsmore the couple had decided to apply for a residency order for their granddaughter with a view to adopting her and were assessed by social services.

A judge at Liverpool County Court last month dismissed their application. "They were rejected because of their age and their health," said Mr Beardsmore. "They have been told they can't see her again until Christmas and if aunts and uncles want to visit they will have to go to court. It is wrong.

"We have got doctors' notes saying they are healthy. They play with her. She is feeding herself and walking. They are a happy family. Her grandparents have their own caravan in Kinmel Bay. They live in a nice area with a children's park. There are plenty of trees. It is such a shame. But we are not going to give up. We are fighting this all the way."

A spokesman for Liverpool city council said: "Halton council made the initial assessment and this was upheld by the court. Throughout all this, the question has been asked, 'What are the best interests of the child?' The interests of the child are of paramount importance. Liverpool council does not have a policy which discriminates against people on the grounds of age and we look at all applications on their own merit."