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
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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: Customer Service Advisors

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This winner of the best new business in Shrops...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This winner of the best new business in shrops...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager - Email Marketing Services

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are looking for a highly or...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester

£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultan...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders