Fact-finding hearing investigates whether a couple who had apparently given birth to a child in Nigeria had been aware that it was actually a ‘staged labour’
Summary of A Local Authority v S & O published
Family Law Week has published an excellent summary of A Local Authority v S & O  EWHC 3764 (Fam). In this case a Nigerian woman living in the UK (Mrs S) went to her GP carrying a baby, O, born according to a birth certificate produced to the GP a month or so before at a maternity clinic in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. The GP was suspicious, having carried out a number of checks in the previous months which had revealed that Mrs S was not pregnant, and although she did not have concerns about the care of the baby, notified the local authority about her concerns about the parentage.
The local authority arranged DNA testing which showed that neither of the couple was O's biological parent, which result was said to have come as a shock to Mrs S. The local authority believed that O had been wrongfully removed from her natural mother in Nigeria and brought to the UK. Given that no-one had parental responsibility, they issued proceedings.
Eventually, a fact-finding hearing came before Coleridge J.
The judge heard from Mr and Mrs S, who had been joined to proceedings, in great detail. M explained that the clinic had been recommended to her by her sister, that she had paid the clinic just under £6,000 and started treatment there with injections and tablets in December 2009. In April 2010, she started gaining weight and returned to Nigeria where the clinic confirmed she was pregnant. However, her GP in the UK told her she was not pregnant and referred her to hospital for a scan which showed no pulse or heartbeat from a baby. When she went back to Nigeria later in the year, the clinic again confirmed her pregnancy, and in January 2011, she underwent what she perceived to be the birth of O, with a doctor inducing labour through intravenous drip. She now felt she had been the victim of a very serious fraud.
To read the case summary by Gillon Cameron of 14 Gray's Inn Square and/or the full judgment please click here.