Demands for national inquiry into row over South Yorkshire foster children

Roger Stone, leader of Rotherham Council
Roger Stone, leader of Rotherham Council
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PARTY bosses have called for a ‘national inquiry’ into why three foster children were removed from a South Yorkshire couple – after accusing the council of ‘sandbagging’ the story.

Steve Crowther, UKIP chairman, was speaking after Rotherham Council announced preliminary details of a report into why the three Eastern European children were removed from the couple over the carers’ membership of the political party.

Council bosses had ordered an explanation for the move at the same time as Michael Gove, Education Secretary, called for an investigation.

The council has been criticised after telling the couple the children were being removed because of concerns over UKIP’s stance on immigration and the couple’s ability to meet the cultural needs of the youngsters.

Coun Roger Stone, council leader, said: “I received a report of the immediate investigation ordered early on Saturday by the council’s cabinet member for children’s services, Coun Paul Lakin. As we said on Saturday, membership of UKIP should not bar someone from fostering.

“I can confirm the children are safe and in very good care.

“However, this remains a complex case involving legal advice relating to the decision in question, particular features of the children’s background and an external agency responsible for finding and providing the foster carers concerned.

“Mr Gove has asked for an inquiry relating to this case and the council welcomes this. We will give full co-operation to the department.

“The council’s chief executive, Martin Kimber, has invited the senior officials making the enquiries to meet with him and other council officers in Rotherham as soon as possible, so this information can be rapidly reported to the Secretary of State.

“The investigation will focus on the information, advice and evidence gathered before making this decision, the nature of the decision itself and how it was communicated.

“This is a sensitive child protection case. It involves both vulnerable children and the foster carers, so the information the council is able to release publicly is limited by law.”

The dad at the centre of the row said: “We love those children. They have been passed from pillar to post. They have lost their family and they just get moved around and another move might not be the best thing for them.

“We need to just wait and see what the report says.”

He and his wife said: “We are surprised there has been no apology from the council and feel they are hiding behind the complexity of this case.”

Mr Crowther said: “The statement from the council says absolutely nothing. They are clearly trying to sandbag the story.

“UKIP support the couple in their demands to have the children back and feel that heads should roll.

“We also feel there should be a national inquiry to ensure this is not happening in councils all across the country.”

Should the Rotherham couple who are members of the UKIP political party be able to foster children?