Boy, 13, 'may not be baby's father'

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The Independent Online

Baby-faced Alfie Patten may not be a father at 13 after all amid allegations that the mother has had several other sexual partners, it was reported today.

The case of Alfie - who was just 12 when the baby was conceived - has already provoked a fierce political debate over the high rate of teenage pregnancies in the UK and the sexualisation of children.

But two other teenagers believe they may have fathered six-day old Maisie, whose mother Chantelle Steadman is herself just 15.

Richard Goodsell, 16, told the News of the World that he also shared a bed with the teenager at her home in Eastbourne, East Sussex, at around the time she became pregnant.

Richard, a trainee chef, said: "I know I could be the father. Everyone thinks I am. My friends all tell me that the baby has my eyes - even my mum thinks so.

"Even Chantelle's mum asked me if I was the father. If I am the father, I have the right to know."

Richard, who told the paper he slept with Chantelle with the consent of her parents and without using any contraception, said he plans to demand a DNA test is carried out to find out the truth.

Chantelle lives with her mother, Penny, and father, Steve, in a council house on the Old Town estate.

Tyler Barker, 14, also told the paper he could have fathered Maisie, born at the Eastbourne District General Hospital last week.

He said he slept with Chantelle around nine months ago, again in her own bed.

Realising the gravity of the situation, he added: "I hope it's not me."

Both boys and their parents are reported to have made sworn statements in front of a solicitor detailing their encounters with Chantelle.

The situation has provoked outrage from politicians and charity workers who said it exemplified the "complete collapse" of parts of society.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, who runs the Centre for Social Justice think tank, said the birth highlighted another case of "broken Britain" where "anything goes".

He said: "It's not being accusative, it's about pointing out the complete collapse in some parts of society of any sense of what's right and wrong.

"There is no opprobrium any more about behaviour and quite often children witness behaviour that's aggressive, violent, rude and sexual. It's as if no-one is saying this is wrong."

Tory leader David Cameron said children having children was "worrying" and that parenthood should not be something they should even be contemplating.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown did not comment directly on the case but said "all of us would want to avoid teenage pregnancies".

Meanwhile, Tony Kerridge, of the sexual health specialist Marie Stopes International, said children needed better education to develop aspirations and avoid a life of poverty.

Society should be encouraging young people to have bigger aspirations than simply to slip into a benefits culture lifestyle, he added.

Both Chantelle and Alfie have been kept hidden from the media glare since bringing Maisie home from hospital last week.

Alfie, who stands just 4ft tall and looks young for his 13 years, has said he plans to stand by and support Chantelle with the baby.

However the schoolboy, who lives with his mother, Nicola, in nearby Hailsham, admitted that he did not know how he would be able to support them financially.

Sussex Police has said no action will be taken, with it "not in anyone's interests" to prosecute.

East Sussex County Council said the teenage parents would be supported with intensive monitoring and health visitor support.