SOCIAL workers want to seize a baby as soon as it is born because of a mother’s political views.
Durham County Council has told Toni McLeod she would pose a “risk of significant harm” to the baby by having ‘inappropriate friendships’.
The 35-week-pregnant mother recently married Martyn McLeod, a serving soldier just back from Afghanistan, but social workers have told him that as a full-time soldier he would be unable to care for his child, reports the Sunday Express.
Mrs McLeod, Antonia (Stella) Evans as she then was last year, was convicted of assault causing actual bodily harm, common assault and being the owner of a dog dangerously out of control, as reported in the Northern Echo.
Her three previous children from different fathers are in care. She was in the English Defence League for a time. She is now said by Durham County Council to have joined the anti-Muslim North West Infidels (motto: ‘Keep the Faith’) which she denies (see her letter to the Sunday Express below).
Social workers say the child would become radicalised with EDL views and want it put up for adoption immediately. Documents prepared by social workers and seen by the Sunday Express mention Mrs McLeod’s alleged previous alcohol and drug misuse, her “aggressive behaviour” and alleged “mental health issues”.
The social worker’s report goes on to say: “Toni clearly needs to break away from the inappropriate friendships she has through either the EDL or break-off group in order that she can model and display appropriate positive relationships to the baby as he/she grows and develops.
“Toni has been a prominent member of the EDL. They claim they are a peaceful group, however, they have strong associations with violence and racism.”
According to the Express, Mrs McLeod has posted racist abuse on social networking sites but denies being racist. She claims she is no longer active with the EDL and has never been charged with violence against children.
Her case has been taken up by John Hemming MP, who chairs the Justice For Families campaign group. Mr Hemming said: “This case is one where the ‘thought police’ have decided to remove her baby at birth because of what she might say to the baby. I wonder what the baby’s father is thinking when he fights for a country which won’t allow him to have a child because of what the child’s mother might say.
The Lib Dem MP is far from being a supporter of the EDL, but contrasts Mrs McLeod’s treatment with that of the extremist Islamic cleric Abu Qatada, who was allowed to remain with his children when he was briefly remanded on bail earlier this year as the Government tries to deport him.
He said: “It raises a curious question as to why Abu Qatada is allowed to radicalise his children but the state won’t take the chance of allowing Toni McLeod to look after her baby in case she says something social workers won’t like. … Freedom of speech means nothing if people are not allowed to say things that are thought to be wrong.”
Mrs McLeod is now planning to move to the Republic of Ireland, out of the jursidiction of British social services, in order to give birth to her baby in safety. She will be following a route taken by many other mothers. Her husband is planning to request a transfer to Northern Ireland so he can be with his child. He said: “Toni would never harm a child.”
Durham County Council told Mrs McLeod on Friday that her unborn baby was being placed on its child protection register but would not comment to the Express.
Obviously Toni McLeod has not behaved well. Nevertheless, should Durham Social Services be allowed to use her political views as even part of their portfolio of excuses to take her baby?
If ‘inappropriate friendships’ with people who hold politically incorrect, or even downright unpleasant, views disqualify a mother from looking after her child, how many of us would social workers actually allow to be parents? Christians, home-schoolers, eco-warriors, anti-Muslim campaigners, pro-marriage activists might all find themselves at odds with the views of social workers. There is no statutory definition or even government guidance of what constitutes ‘significant harm’. Social workers can interpret it to suit themselves.
Cases of children being taken into care have shot up recently as social workers become ‘risk averse’. In the wake of Baby Peter, social workers are deciding it’s more than their job’s worth to leave children out there in the hands of real parents coming across their radar. And of course although they say they may be ‘damned if they don’t’ take a baby into care and that they are ‘damned if they do’, in reality they are never ‘damned if they do’ (except in the courts of heaven) because no-one can call them to account.
We became involved in two other cases of Social Services baby-snatching recently. In one case, astonishingly, a young mother was told she could not be trusted to bring up her children because she had herself been in care. The care system by that logic becomes a self-perpetuating empire.
In another, a father has been told he is a risk to his children because he was sexually abused when he was young. In neither case has any harm occurred or been alleged to any of the children involved. It is so easy to allege ‘a risk’ of harm, and the family courts simply accept what social workers allege.
In addition, Toni is now married, and to a serving soldier just returned from Afhganistan. In Afghanistan he has, according to our political leaders, been fighting to protect our security. Is it right that the security of his own family life is at risk when he comes home?
Toni McLeod was last recorded living in Mellanby Crescent, Newton Aycliffe, which is mid-way between Darlington and Bishop Auckland. Her real need is for total deliverance from the things of this world which have ensnared her. Pray that the Lord will raise up a Christian local to her to minister to her. We so often talk about ‘getting alongside’ the poor and disadvantaged. Here is a woman and indeed a family who have everything stacked against them. They need support, they need true fellowship, they need the Gospel.
Please note that we can write about this story now. If the McLeod baby is taken into care under a court order, it may well be we cannot write about it any more on pain of contempt of court, under the rules of secrecy which govern the family courts.
Contact details to raise this issue with Durham County Council:
Children and Family Care Dept:
Tel: 0300 026 0000 Fax:0191 383 5752 Email: [email protected]
George Garlick, Chief Executive, Durham County Council.
Tel: 0191 372 7601 Email: [email protected]
Cllr Simon Henig, Leader, Durham County Council
Tel: 0191 383 5344 Email: [email protected]
Further to the above story, a letter by Toni McLeod was published in the Sunday Express 24th June 2012:
‘I would like to put the record straight about allegations made against me by Durham County Council and repeated in last week’s Sunday Express (“Why try to take baby from EDL mother but not from ‘terrorists’?”). I have told Children’s Services in Durham they are not true.
‘I am not a racist and I now regret going to the EDL demonstration at which I was arrested in 2010. I do, however, strongly support the British Troops and will continue to back our boys. I have character references from Muslim and Sikh friends. I am not involved with North West Infidels.
‘I have never owned a Pit Bull. It was a German Shepherd I owned.
‘I do not have a mental health problem. I am not and have never been a drug addict. I have not drunk alcohol in 2012. I did get drunk on one day in 2011 when I was told that my children were not returning to me.’
Toni McLeod. Newton Aycliffe, County Durham
Further still, we have now seen the response of Durham CC. They say:
‘We have been contacted by a number of groups and individuals following national publicity surrounding Toni McLeod. Durham County Council will not comment on the confidential circumstances of any case, however we would like to reassure you that, contrary to what may be suggested, we would never consider removing a child from their family on the basis of their parents’ political beliefs or occupation.’
The trouble is, the documents seen by the Sunday Express reveal that Durham CC are doing exactly what they say they do not do.
Four weeks later we are still also awaiting a response from Mr David Williams, promised by Cllr Henig, to the following FOI Act questions:
‘Would you kindly advise me what targets, financial incentives and monies, for example those payable for fostering and adoptions are at present in place for cases like this?
‘How much are foster parents paid by Durham and do any foster parents have familial or other links to social services or Durham County Council staff?’
It will erode public confidence in a system which is already under suspicion if children are being snatched to make up numbers, advance careers or profit the local authority or individuals within it.
Previous Christian Voice posts on this issue:
20th March 2012: Social Services ‘Hired Gun’ may be struck off.
3rd February 2012: Social Workers on TV – where is the Church?
26th November 2011: Domenic Johansson To Face Christmas Without Parents
20th September 2011: Forced adoption: how the Lord must grieve
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