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It's the social workers who are racist, say Slovak parents in UKIP fostering scandal: The Mail reveals the truth behind Thought Police furore – and it's more shocking than it seemed
Father of children in UKIP fostering row accused council staff of 'racism'
There are concerns at the number of children being taken away from East European migrant families for adoption or fosteringThe issue is causing tension between the British and Slovak governments
01:01 GMT, 7 December 2012
The birth parents of the children at the centre of the UKIP fostering row can today be revealed as a Slovakian couple who have had six of their offspring taken away by social workers.
Last night the father accused council staff of ‘racism’ and of destroying his family as he told how 20 police officers ‘raided’ their home to remove their last four children.
The authorities have also taken the couple’s grandchild (the baby son of their 17-year-old married daughter), bringing the total number now being looked after by the state from this one family to seven. Their ages range from five months to 11 years.
Settlers: Thousands of Eastern Europeans have moved to Rotherham, Yorkshire and the Slovakian couple at the centre of the UKIP fostering row have accused council staff of 'racism'
The parents, who are happily married and came to Britain five years ago, found themselves at the centre of national controversy after the staunchly Labour council in Rotherham, Yorkshire, discovered that it had sent three of their removed children to live with a foster couple who are UKIP members.
The furore blew up when social workers abruptly moved the children from the foster couple because they considered that their support of the anti-EU party, which attracted nearly one million votes at the last election, made them incapable of fulfilling the East European youngsters’ ‘cultural and ethnic needs’.
The astonishing decision was attacked by MPs from all political parties, and Rotherham social services were accused of acting like ‘Thought Police’.
Ironically, the council has also been criticised for failing to protect scores of young girls, some in care, who have been sexually abused by street grooming gangs, mainly of Pakistani heritage.
UKIP claimed the Slovak children’s
removal from loving foster parents — who said they grew fond of the
three and had bought them Christmas presents — was for blatant political
Now, the Mail can tell the story of
the children’s birth parents — and reveal growing concerns at the number
of children being taken away from Eastern European migrant families for
adoption or fostering, at increasing expense to the state. The issue is
causing rising tension between the British and Slovak governments.
friends, the parents of the Rotherham children say the irony is that
despite the council’s fears of the UKIP foster couple being racist, it
is the council which has picked on them because they are Roma, and
social workers disapprove of their non-British ‘lifestyle’.
National controversy: The Labour council in Rotherham disocvered that it had sent three of the couple's removed children to live with a foster couple who are members of UKIP, an anti-EU party
Blatant political reasons: UKIP, who attacted nearly one million votes at the last election, claimed the Slovak children's removal from loving foster parents was politically motivated
The Slovak father told friends: ‘It is the social services who have been racist against my family.’
However, social services are standing by
their original decision to remove the Slovak couple’s first two
children, made after one of their sons was found wandering the streets
of Rotherham at two in the morning shortly after they came to Britain.
The council then took their newly born grandchild into care this
The remaining four children were
seized in September when social workers deemed the family’s small
terrace house was ‘overcrowded’ and infested with mice, said the
claim there are other concerns about the family, including suspicions
that the father had physically abused some of the children. He, and
their mother, have denied this.
Over the past five years since the EU’s
borders were opened, more than 3,500 Eastern Europeans (including many
Slovak and Czech Roma) have settled in Rotherham.
Astonishingly, the family had six children taken into care
The council has encouraged them to adopt British ways by sending their children to school, putting them to bed on time rather than letting them play out on the streets and not smacking or hitting them as a punishment.
But, according to neighbours, the Slovak family’s children were happy and there were photos lovingly displayed around the house of them smiling and laughing.
Whatever the merits of the social services’ actions, the 46-year-old father is angry at the way his children have been separated from each other by the authorities and the brutal manner in which they were removed. The last ‘raid’ on their home saw council staff and police hustle the children into cars as they screamed for their 34-year-old mother, who was left crying in the street. Neighbours who comforted her said the scene they witnessed was ‘appalling cruelty to an ordinary family’.
The father says: ‘What has happened has broken my wife’s heart. She has talked of killing herself since her children were taken away. I would like to leave Britain, but I cannot desert my six children who are living in different groups with strangers.’
Attacked by all political parties: Rotherham council (pictured) social services were accused of acting like 'Thought Police' and was also criticised for failing to protect scores of young girls how have been sexually abused by street grooming gangs
His married daughter, who has her own home in Yorkshire, said: ‘I have not seen my own baby boy since he was taken from me at a month old this summer.’
She insists her child was removed because she is Slovakian and the council disapproved of her lifestyle. ‘This was my first child and I looked after him well. The council said they wanted to assess how I cared for him when he was born because I am a teenage mother. They did so for a month, and then took him away against my will,’ the mother told a Slovakian TV reporter.
Neither she nor her parents can be named in order to protect the identity of their children.
The father of the six children has told friends: ‘I love all my children and would never hurt them. I came to Britain to work and make a better life for my sons and daughters. I never believed this could have happened to us.’
He has complained that he and his wife are allowed to visit their children only at a contact centre under supervision of social workers. It is believed they saw some of the children taken in September for the first time last week.
It's caused street protests in the Slovak capital, Bratislava
The couple first realised their own
three children were at the centre of the ‘UKIP row’ when told by their
lawyer a few days ago.
fostering row and subsequent public outrage helped UKIP score its
best-ever by-election result — coming second in last week’s poll in the
staunchly socialist seat of Rotherham.
clear that many of the local community are aware of the family
involved. ‘We are scared that our own children will be the next ones
taken by the social services,’ said one woman with a baby as she joined a
group of other Slovaks at a social centre. The Eastern European
community in Rotherham has held emotional meetings about the social
services’ actions. Some Slovaks and Czechs claim that children are being
removed on ‘any excuse’ to give to English parents for adoption.
The Slovak father, a handsome and articulate man, was contacted for comment by a Slovakian television station after his first two children were taken.
The TV station asked him to take part in a talk show highlighting how more than 120 children from 40 Slovakian families have been put into care by social workers in England. Some have been adopted and will never see their parents again.
Growing tensions: A sign of diplomatic tensions between Slovakia and Britain came in September, when protesters filled the street outside the British embassy in Bratislava, waving placards saying 'Stop legal kidnapping' and 'Britain thief of children'
However, the father refused to do so, hoping that he would get his children back. Indeed, he says he has been told he faces jail if he talks to the Press.
Meanwhile, the Slovakian Government has protested to the British authorities about the huge numbers of Slovak children being put into care by social workers, and last Friday a debate at the Council of Europe, which promotes human rights in all European countries, centred on the scandal.
A resolution was passed that said children are being removed by UK social services and family courts ‘against the will’ of their natural parents and in violation of the ‘right to respect of family life’ and the ‘principle of fair trial’.
It insisted that social workers should give ‘practical assistance’ to families in difficulties instead of their children being put into care which caused ‘irreversible damage’ to the entire family.
A sign of the diplomatic tensions between Slovakia and Britain came in September, when protesters filled the street outside the British embassy in the Slovak capital of Bratislava, waving placards saying ‘Stop legal kidnapping’ and ‘Britain thief of children’.
The demonstration coincided with a hearing at London’s Court of Appeal in which a Slovak grandmother — supported by the country’s authorities — pleaded for the return of her two young grandsons, who were seized from their parents in Britain two years ago after one of the boys was found to have a rash on his genitals.
Long been happening: Liberal Democrat John Hemming said: 'Few realise how many Eastern European children are being taken away by social services
Suspicions that he had been abused were later ruled out, but the boys have still not been returned to the family by Surrey Council social workers.
In another case this autumn, Slovak officials attended a court hearing in Kent that ended with five children being sent back to their extended family in Slovakia after being taken by social workers because their parents left them unsupervised while working night shifts.
The family courts operate in strict secrecy to protect the identities of the children involved. It means that evidence given by social workers and their hired medical experts cannot be publicly challenged.
Parents who talk publicly about what happens there — even to their MPs — have been sent to prison.
Last night John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP who has questioned the courts’ secrecy and why 500 English children of all backgrounds are taken into care every week, said: ‘Few realise how many Eastern European children are being taken away by social services.
‘Of course, this has long been happening to English families. But many parents are innocent and do not deserve to lose their children.
‘It will be costing Rotherham Council 40,000 a year for each of the seven children they have taken in this case — a total of nearly 300,000 a year. The council has complained it is short of money.
‘If it feels there is something wrong with these Slovakian parents, why don’t they send the family back to Slovakia where the authorities there can judge for themselves They will understand their culture and lifestyle.’
The UKIP-supporting foster couple refused to comment when the Mail told them that six children, plus a grandchild, had been taken from the Slovak parents.
Rotherham Council has said it will not comment on any individual cases of children it removes from families into care.