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Children in UKIP foster row have been split up: Decision sparks further criticism of Rotherham council
00:00 GMT, 27 November 2012
Appeal: UKIP's Lisa Duffy says the couple want the children back
The three children removed from their foster parents because the couple were UKIP members have been separated from one another, it emerged last night.
The boy has been sent to live with one family, while his two sisters – a baby and an older girl – have gone to another home.
The revelation sparked further criticism of Rotherham council, whose original decision had been dubbed a ‘disgrace’ by politicians.
Officials at the authority said the case was ‘sensitive’ and they could not discuss the details.
The foster couple, who do not want to be named, said they are horrified to hear the children have been split up.
‘We just want them all back under one roof,’ they said last night.
‘We are surprised there has been no apology from Rotherham Borough Council. We feel they are hiding behind the complexity of this case.’
Lisa Duffy, UKIP’s campaign director, said: ‘They want those children back. They want to be able to look after these children.
‘The three children have gone from being looked after by one loving family who were learning their language, to being separated and being in two separate families.
‘It’s really not good at all for young children like this.’
Tim Loughton, a Tory MP and former children’s minister, said: ‘It is impossible to see how the children’s best interests are being best served by disrupting their placement with loving carers in a hurry and now splitting them up.
‘Rotherham are clearly continuing to fail in their duty of care here and the children further destabilised.’
And Robert Tapsfield, of the Fostering Network, said children in care should be kept together ‘wherever possible’.
He added: ‘Relationships with our siblings are often some of the most important and longest lasting of our lives. Any decision to split up siblings in foster care should only be made when it’s in their best interest.’
Admitting fault: Leader of Rotherham council Roger Stone, has admitted wrongdoing saying 'membership of UKIP should not bar someone from fostering'
Tony Mannion, a Tory councillor in Rotherham, said the decision to separate the brother from his sisters was ‘an absolute disgrace’ and condemned the council for failing to give further details.
‘You always want to keep children together if possible and this couple were prepared to do that,’ he said.
‘If the children have now been split up then that has compounded a really appalling story.’
Roger Stone, who leads Rotherham council, admitted yesterday that ‘membership of UKIP should not bar someone from fostering’.
He said officials would co-operate with an inquiry ordered by Education Secretary Michael Gove, who said on Saturday that the council had made ‘the wrong decision, in the wrong way, for the wrong reasons’.
Insisting that the children were ‘safe and in very good care’, Mr Stone said: ‘This is a sensitive child protection case.
Condemning: Britain's Education Secretary Michael Gove said the council had made the wrong decision and that the ideology behind it was harmful to children
‘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 cooperate with the Secretary of State.’
Commenting on the council leader’s response, Councillor Mannion said: ‘It’s their usual way of dealing with anything contentious – shut up shop and claim they can’t tell anybody anything.’
Condemning: UKIP leader Nigel Farage
Rotherham social services removed the
three Eastern European youngsters from the experienced foster parents
two weeks ago after discovering they were members of the anti-European
Union political party.
The couple, who are in their 50s and have looked after about a dozen children over seven years, had previously been praised as ‘exemplary’ foster carers by the council.
They said the children had been thriving under their care – with the baby gaining weight and the older children starting to call them ‘mum and dad’.
The couple claimed the decision to remove the children from their care had left the youngsters ‘completely traumatised’.
‘They have been passed from pillar to post,’ the father said.
‘They have lost their family and they just get moved around and another move might not tbe the best thing for them.’
The former Labour voters fear their names will become blackened if they are revealed.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage condemned the council for their response yesterday.
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. The way this Labour-controlled council have acted is an absolute outrage.’
He called for senior managers to quit and said an independent inquiry should be held to see if ‘politically-motivated discrimination’ was happening elsewhere.