Cromer pair battle for adoption justice
Richard BatsonA family is fighting to overcome a funding hurdle in its long battle to seek justice and see three of its children again.Mark and Nicky Webster enjoyed Christmas with their nine-month-old baby Cara, and her 3�-year-old brother Brandon at their Cromer home.Richard Batson
A family is fighting to overcome a funding hurdle in its long battle to seek justice and see three of its children again.
Mark and Nicky Webster enjoyed Christmas with their nine-month-old baby Cara, and her 3�-year-old brother Brandon at their Cromer home.
But it would have been more complete if three other children removed through forced adoptions nearly five years ago had been there too, said Mrs Webster.
The other youngsters, a girl and two boys, were removed amid abuse claims - and their parents have not seen them since January 2005.
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But expert evidence about injuries to one boy was later brought into question after it was revealed they could have resulted from a modern case of scurvy caused by a soya milk diet aimed at overcoming eating problems.
In February last year as their battle to clear their names and get access to their three estranged children reached the Court of Appeal, judges said it was possible the family was the victim of a miscarriage of justice.
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But that was scant comfort for the Norfolk family because the court also said it was also too late to turn back the clock and return the children, because the youngsters were settled with their adoptive families.
The Websters are still keen to take their campaign higher still to the House of Lords - but cannot do so unless they find a kindly barrister who will take up their case for free, or a benefactor who will pick up the bill.
'It is like being stuck in quicksand,' said Mrs Webster, who hit the national headlines in 2006, when she fled to Ireland when pregnant with Brandon, fearing the tot would also be taken away from the family - a threat which evaporated after the couple proved their parenting skills during months of close observation.
'People say money doesn't matter, but it does in this case. I hate to think how much the legal fees would be.
'Our lawyers are looking for a barrister who would work 'pro bono' (for the public good), or for a generous donation, and maybe we could set up a fund.
'But at the moment there is nothing we can do, because we don't have any money to pay legal fees.'
The couple from Mill Road on Cromer's Suffield Park have had legal aid in the past, but their latest request was turned down because it was deemed the case was unlikely to succeed, said Mrs Webster.
'We have been told access to the children would undermine their adoption - but to be able to see them would be something,' she added.
The Websters had an enjoyable Christmas, with Cara playing with the new stroller and doll present that helps her to learn to walk, and Brandon playing on his ride-on Thomas the Tank Engine.
'It was as happy as we could make it, but it would have been more complete if the other children were here,' said Mrs Webster.