Ukip foster care couple 'surprised' at lack of apology from Rotherham council after it removed children from their care


Dave Higgens
Monday 26 November 2012 18:44

A couple who had three foster children removed from their care because of their membership of the UK Independence Party (Ukip) have said they are surprised they have had no apology from the council involved.

They were responding to a new statement on the controversy by under-fire Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council which pledged full support to an inquiry ordered by Education Secretary Michael Gove.

But the message from council leader Roger Stone offered no apology to the South Yorkshire couple.

In a statement of their own, issued through Ukip, they said: "We are surprised there has been no apology from Rotherham Borough Council and feel they are hiding behind the complexity of this case."

The pair have not been identified to protect the trio of EU-migrant children involved in the case. They lost the youngsters when Rotherham Council social workers discovered their political allegiance, which they deemed incompatible with caring for the youngsters.

The foster couple, a qualified nursery nurse and a former Royal Navy reservist, said in an ideal world they would like the children back but their chances have been wrecked because they do not want to cause them any more upheaval.

They spoke out after being told by the social worker that Ukip was a racist party.

The children, a baby girl, a boy and an older girl, were removed by social workers after the Labour-run council reportedly received an anonymous tip-off about the foster parents' membership of the right-wing party which wants withdrawal from the European Union and immigration curbs.

Social workers said they were concerned about the children's "cultural and ethnic needs".

In his statement today, Coun Stone said he had now received an initial report from his officials.

He said: "As we said on Saturday, membership of Ukip should not bar someone from fostering.

"The council places the highest priority on safeguarding children, and our overriding concern in all decisions about the children in our care is for their best interests.

"We have been able to establish the facts in this case as far as is possible over the weekend, and I can confirm that the children are safe and in very good care."

But the Labour council leader said it was a "very complex case" involving legal advice and an external agency.

He said: "The Secretary of State for Education has asked for an inquiry relating to this case over the weekend. The council welcomes this. We will work very closely with and give full co-operation to the Department."

Coun Stone said: "This is a sensitive child protection case. It involves both vulnerable children and the foster carers, so the information the council is able to release publicly is limited by law.

"At all stages, however, we will seek to be as open and transparent as possible as we co-operate with the Secretary of State."

Details of the incident emerged on Saturday and provoked widespread condemnation from political leaders including Mr Gove and Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Mr Gove, who was himself adopted as a child, said social workers had made "the wrong decision in the wrong way for the wrong reasons" and that he would be personally investigating.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage said today Rotherham's head of children's services Joyce Thacker should lose her job over the row and the children should be returned to the foster parents.

And he indicated that the party is considering legal action to get redress from the council.

He said: "The council have simply pulled up the drawbridge and refused to discuss the issue.

"There is no apology to the foster carers for the slur on their character, nor any indication that their situation will be reinstated.

"It is not acceptable for the council to prevaricate on this, we want to see action now.

"Ordinary people all over the country - and most senior politicians, with the notable exception of David Cameron - are absolutely incensed about this case. Rotherham Council should apologise immediately, and heads should roll.

"Joyce Thacker should surely go, along with any other senior managers who have endorsed this bigoted and discriminatory policy.

"We are also calling for an independent inquiry on a national scale, to find out the extent to which this is happening elsewhere.

"From evidence now emerging, it would seem that Rotherham may be the tip of an iceberg of politically-motivated discrimination in children's services."

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg said: "I welcome the statement from Rotherham Council and their commitment to provide full co-operation with the Department for Education's investigation, so any lessons can be learned both for Rotherham and other parts of the country.

"We would be happy to work with Mr Gove's team on any wider issues this raises as well.

"The uppermost concern for everyone should be that the situation for the three children is resolved in their best interests.

"Being a Ukip member should not be a bar to being a foster or adoptive parent - the key factor is whether those parents are providing a safe and loving environment."


Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments