A PREGNANT woman has fled to Sweden to escape the social workers who planned to take her baby from her within minutes of its birth.
Fran Lyon has left the country to bring up her child away from the officials she says have made her life a misery.
The decision to take the child into care made by a Northumberland County Council child protection panel was based on an assessment from a doctor Ms Lyon says she has never met.
Now 33 weeks pregnant, she said her decision to leave the UK had been made simply because of the way her case had been handled by the council.
She said: “From the very beginning it has been ridiculous. They have made a judgement on the basis of one report and have simply made their minds up, even though numerous doctors have said that I am fine they just would not listen.
“I still have nightmares about the birth plan they drew up, which said I had 10 minutes with Molly before she was taken from me.”
The expectant mother, formerly of Hexham, had intended to stay and fight the decision in court, but said she chose to leave because of the intransigent stance of the council and the risk of losing her daughter.
The council said that the child had to be taken into care because Fran was likely to suffer from a condition that would cause her to harm the child to get attention for herself.
But Fran, who suffered from a mental illness as a teenager but has since recovered, said she had never had her case handled fairly by social services.
She said: “I have offered to be taken into a mother and baby unit after Molly is born to be supervised, but every offer I have made has been refused.
“I have cooperated with all their demands but it has been horrendous, and it is such a relief to be away from the threat of losing Molly. The sad thing is that there are other mothers in my situation who are losing their children for no good reason.”
“It shouldn’t come down to whether you have access to the internet or money as to whether you have a fair chance of keeping your child.”
The 22-year-old has already enrolled in Swedish lessons and said she was looking forward to a “fresh start” in a new country.
She added: “I did think that I might come back in a couple of years, but then if we are settled and happy it probably won’t be worth the risk.
“After all that has happened I would have no idea of what social services might try to do if I were to return with Molly and it would seem like a gamble.
“It is a shame to leave but at the moment I am just very happy to be where I am.”
Molly is due to be born early in January, and Fran has already had a meeting with a midwife in Sweden.
Miss Lyon’s lawyer, William Bache, who successfully defended Angela Cannings against an unsafe conviction for murdering her two baby sons, said he had seen no evidence that she might harm her child and described social services’ decision as draconian. He added:
“We, as a country, seem to be in danger of condemning anybody who has had difficulties in their past.”
A spokeswoman for Northumberland County Council said: “Legally we are unable to comment on individual cases and we do not believe that it is in the best interests of any mother or child to disclose personal details in a public forum. Inevitably this does mean only one side is being reported. However, in Northumberland safeguarding children is our top priority.”
Fran Lyon features today on the TV programme Tonight with Trevor McDonald.