Prisoner to sue over birth in handcuffs: Woman not allowed to keep baby at jail

The woman prisoner forced to give birth while handcuffed to a warder in hospital is to sue the Prison Service, it was revealed last night.

It also emerged that Sue Edwards, 35, was refused permission to remain with her baby and had to return to jail less than six hours after her daughter, Sarah Louise, was born.

Mrs Edwards, who is serving a three-year sentence for burglary, remained chained throughout her stay at Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester, even while she fed her baby. The hospital said yesterday that the two midwives who assisted in the delivery did not realise until after the birth that Mrs Edwards had been handcuffed.

The Prison Service has apologised to Mrs Edwards, but calls for government action grew yesterday as Labour demanded a review of the relationship between the medical prison service and the NHS.

The governor of Styal women's prison in Cheshire, where Mrs Edwards is being held, said the two women prison officers involved had taken too literally their instructions to keep the prisoner secure.

Mrs Edwards, from Ancoats, Manchester, was taken to hospital from Styal jail after she went into labour during a visit by her 14-year- old son.

She will claim compensation for the distress she suffered at the hospital. Roger Lowe, her solicitor, said: 'Mrs Edwards has instructed me to pursue legal action against the Prison Service. It will be breaking new ground so we don't know exactly what form it will take . . . it could well be we will go to the European Court of Human Rights.'

Mr Lowe said Mrs Edwards, whose baby is being cared for by her sister, was still distressed by what had happened.

Medical experts and prison reformers yesterday condemned Mrs Edwards' treatment - which happened on Christmas Eve but was revealed only on Wednesday - and warned it could severely affect her relationship with her child.

A panel of medical and prison representatives refused Mrs Edwards' request to remain with her new daughter and for her to be kept at the prison's baby unit.

Janet Jones, an aunt of Mrs Edwards, said yesterday her niece was upset that prison authorities and social services would not let her keep the baby. 'I couldn't believe how quickly they took her back from the hospital. There was a lot of bruising on her stomach from the birth and she was really worried there was something wrong inside. The way she has been treated is outrageous.'

A hospital spokesman said: 'It was only after the child had been born and the midwives were changing the sheets on the bed that they realised the mother was handcuffed to a prison officer. Had they known earlier and thought the handcuffs were in any way restricting her movement, they would most certainly have protested.'

He added: 'The prison staff should have used their discretion. In future we will talk to the prison authorities so the situation is clear.'

Mrs Edwards had a record of absconding and during her pregnancy staged an escape from the hospital's maternity unit. She is due to be released from prison in July.

She now has five children, and for 14 years has lived with her partner, Keith, 43.

Suggested Topics
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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exceptional opportunity has arisen for a pa...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen and Bathroom Installers

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border