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Saturday 30 August 2014

Inquiry after foster children removed from 'right-wing' couple

John Fahey and Daniel Bentley

Published 25/11/2012 | 05:00

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A council that removed three children from the care of foster parents in Britain who are members of the Ukip political party is to hold an investigation into the decision, it said yesterday.

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Roger Stone, leader of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, announced the investigation after the Labour-run authority came under mounting condemnation from political leaders including Education Secretary Michael Gove and Labour leader Ed Miliband.

The three youngsters – European migrants – were happy with the couple and there was no question mark over the care they were providing.

But the children were removed from them after social workers discovered their membership of the right-wing party, which wants Britain to withdraw from the European Union.

Mr Stone said: "We are going to investigate to make sure everything has been done professionally.

"If the professionals give advice, we take it. We are going to investigate – we always would if somebody complains."

Mr Stone added: "We are looking to make sure all the correct procedures were carried out before the decision was made."

Mr Gove said social workers had made "the wrong decision in the wrong way for the wrong reasons" and that he would be personally investigating and exploring steps to "deal with" the situation.

The politician, who heads the government department responsible for children's services, accused Rotherham of sending out a "dreadful signal".

"Rotherham's reasons for denying this family the chance to foster are indefensible. The ideology behind their decision is actively harmful to children.

"We should not allow considerations of ethnic or cultural background to prevent children being placed with loving and stable families."

Speaking in Middlesbrough ahead of last Thursday's by-election, Mr Miliband said: "Being a member of Ukip should not be a bar to adopting or fostering children.

"We need an urgent investigation by Rotherham Council into the circumstances of this case.

"I don't know all the facts of this case but I am clear, what matters is children in Rotherham and elsewhere, and being a member of a political party like Ukip should not be a bar to fostering children."

The youngsters were removed from the couple, who have not been identified publicly, because social workers were concerned about their "cultural and ethnic needs".

The South Yorkshire foster parents claimed a social worker told them Ukip – which also campaigns for tougher immigration controls – was "racist".

Ukip leader Nigel Farage called for resignations over what he said was an "appalling" decision.

Accusing the council of bigotry, he said he felt "very upset and very angry, particularly for the couple involved, who have been fostering for many years and are very decent people, and the awful shock to them of having these children removed, not to mention the upset to the children themselves".

Joyce Thacker, the council's strategic director of children and young people's services, said the decision to remove the children was taken after consultation with lawyers.

Asked what the specific problem was with the couple being Ukip members, Mrs Thacker told BBC Breakfast: "We have to think about the clear statements on ending multi-culturalism, for example".

She added that there was no issue about the quality of care the couple provided and said she would co-operate with any investigation.

Sunday Independent

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