- Daily Mail -
A couple who fled to Ireland after social workers threatened to remove their baby at birth have had the newborn snatched after all.
Kerry Robertson, 17, who has mild learning difficulties, and Mark McDougall, 25, went on the run after British social services said she was not clever enough to raise a child.
But just four days after Ben was born, Irish social workers marched into the maternity ward and forced them to hand him over.
Proud mother: Kerry Robertson and Ben, who she isn't allowed to bring up
They were told they were acting at the behest of their British counterparts.
The couple, from Fife, Scotland, have been on the run for three months.
In September, their wedding was halted just 48 hours before the service when social workers claimed Miss Robertson was not bright enough to understand the marriage declaration.
Then in November they were told that her ‘disability’ meant their baby would be taken away at birth.
With Miss Robertson 29 weeks pregnant, they fled their house in the middle of the night and travelled to Ireland.
Ben was born healthy and weighing 7lb 3oz last Friday.
Last night Miss Robertson said: ‘When the Irish social workers said I had to give the baby to them, I felt sick.
‘I didn’t want to hand him over and I started crying because I couldn’t believe what they were saying. I thought I had misunderstood.
‘I had just been breastfeeding him.
Just before they took him away, I told Ben I loved him and gave him a kiss.’
Mr McDougall added: ‘Kerry let out a dreadful cry when she realised what was happening – it was terrible. She is just in pieces.
‘We believed that the Irish had more traditional values than social workers in the UK. We found a two-bedroom cottage in a beautiful village in Waterford overlooking the sea.
A family divided: Father Mark with Kerry and the baby, who is now in foster care
‘Kerry booked herself in with the local GP and at last we began to feel as if we were safe.’
An anonymous benefactor has been funding the couple after they left home with just £200, and has even paid for the house.
Artist Mr McDougall has also been selling pictures while friends and family have donated clothes, baby gear and further money.
Miss Robertson has been cared for by her grandmother since the age of nine months after her own parents were unable to look after her, with her care overseen by Fife Council.
She began getting contractions last Friday and the couple went to the local hospital, where she gave birth after a natural labour.
‘Both of us were overjoyed,’ said Mr McDougall. ‘Ben was absolutely perfect.’
But on Tuesday morning two Irish social workers – a man and a woman – came to the hospital and delivered the bombshell.
Mr McDougall added: ‘It seems that through Kerry’s medical records – although we have been on the run she has always ensured she had all the checks and scans on the baby – Fife Council had been alerted.
‘The social workers said that now Ben was born, Fife had put him on the at-risk register and he was subject to a care order.
As the social workers told us the news, the two midwives who have been caring for Kerry were so distressed that they fled the room.’
Ben is being cared for by foster parents.
Family law experts said that if Fife had genuine concerns about the baby it had a duty to pursue the couple even once they had fled its jurisdiction.
Under a 1980 European convention on child welfare, they would have contacted the Irish authorities to alert them and the Irish would then have sought an order from a judge allowing them to intervene.
Irish social workers now have to investigate for themselves and have until Monday to make a decision on the case or apply for an extension.
The couple have been allowed to see their son for two hours every other day.
Miss Robertson said: ‘Holding him made me upset all over again. I’ve told the social workers I don’t want him to have bottled milk or a dummy. I feel breastfeeding is so important and at least then he is still having some of me.’
Mr McDougall claimed the care order had the wrong baby’s name on it and the wrong date of birth. He added: ‘Kerry and I are now absolutely furious because we believe our baby has been kidnapped by social services.’
LibDem MP John Hemming, who has been supporting the couple, said: ‘There is no evidence that Mark and Kerry cannot be good parents and I just hope that the Irish authorities can resolve this as quickly as possible.’
The Irish authorities refused to comment last night.
Stephen Moore, executive director of social work at Fife Council, said: ‘I can confirm that although the Robertson family are not presently within Fife, we are committed to working closely with professional colleagues elsewhere to ensure safety and welfare of the child and indeed the whole family as this is of paramount concern to us.
‘I would urge Kerry to use all the support that is being made available to her and her baby and to get appropriate help should she need it.’