THE decision to remove three children from foster parents because the carers are members of the UK Independence Party has been condemned.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who is visiting Rotherham today, where the three children were living before they were moved in with new fosters families, said Rotherham Council has questions to answer.
He denied his party was racist, saying they believe in controlled immigration.
“I’m upset and angry... this couple have been fostering for years and are decent people. Its an awful shock to them, not to mention the upset for the children,” he said.
UKIP, which describes itself as a “Libertarian, non-racist party seeking Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union”, currently has 12 MEPs and 31 councillors, with three peers in the House of Lords.
Jane Collins, UKIP’s candidate in next week’s Rotherham by-election, said that the Labour run council’s decision was ‘beyond belief’.
“The apparent ignorance of the social worker concerned is shocking and heads must roll,” she said.
“The Labour council is using bully boy tactics and instead of trying to defend the indefensible they should be apologising. They are now saying that they will allow the couple to foster just white children - if that’s isn’t racist I don’t know what is.
“The social worker is quoted as saying that UKIP wants Europeans out of the country and returned to their own countries. That is both nonsense and an outrageous calumny. In fact my husband is half Hungarian and my in-laws full, that hardly makes me xenophobic.”
“David Cameron said in a speech in Berlin a few weeks ago that multiculturalism doesn’t work in our country so does that mean that Rotherham Council will stop Tories from fostering as well?”
Ms Collins, who knows the foster carers who have had the children removed, added: “This is extremely serious. If this is happening under a Labour controlled Government where else is it happening?
“My biggest concern and the biggest concern for UKIP is for the children affected by this and for the foster carers - these are people’s lives we are talking about here, lives that Rotherham Council is messing with.
“The council’s decision to remove the children has caused a great deal of pain and upset.”
She said Rotherham Council had brought politics into fostering.
“You can’t get away from what the council said to the foster carers - that they were taking the children away because they are members of UKIP. I think it is ab absolute outrage,” she added.
“I have know the foster parents for five years and they are a fantastic couple. The lady is absolutely distraught and the family have decided to talk publicly because it’s about their lives and they felt they were getting nowhere themselves, that they were getting swept under the carpet.”
Education Secretary Michael Gove labelled Rotherham Council’s decision to remove the children from their foster parents as ‘indefensible’.
He said social workers at Rotherham Council had made ‘the wrong decision in the wrong way for the wrong reasons’ and that he would be personally investigating and exploring steps to ‘deal with’ the situation.
Mr Gove, who heads the Government department responsible for children’s services and who was himself adopted as a child, accused Rotherham of sending out a ‘dreadful signal’.
“Rotherham council have made the wrong decision in the wrong way for the wrong reasons,” he said.
“Rotherham’s reasons for denying this family the chance to foster are indefensible.
“The ideology behind their decision is actively harmful to children. We should not allow considerations of ethnic or cultural background to prevent children being placed with loving and stable families. We need more parents to foster, and many more to adopt.
“Any council which decides that supporting a mainstream UK political party disbars an individual from looking after children in care is sending a dreadful signal that will only decrease the number of loving homes available to children in need. I will be investigating just how this decision came to be made and what steps we need to take to deal with this situation.”
Labour leader and Doncaster MP Ed Miliband called for an urgent investigation into the case, saying: “Being a member of UKIP should not be a bar to adopting or fostering children.
“We need an urgent investigation by Rotherham Council into the circumstances of this case.
“I don’t know all the facts of this case but I am clear, what matters is children in Rotherham and elsewhere, and being a member of a political party like UKIP should not be a bar to fostering children.
“We need to find out the facts and the council urgently needs to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.
“The couple concerned are making extremely serious claims, very disturbing claims.
“Right-thinking people across the country will think there are thousands of children who need to be looked after, who need fostering, we shouldn’t have the situation where membership of a party like UKIP excludes you from doing that.
“We need loving homes for children across the country.
“That can come in different forms, it’s not about what political party you are a member of.”
John Simmonds, Director of Policy and Practice for The British Association For Adoption and Fostering, said: “Decisions and plans for children in foster placements must made with great care and often require balancing many different factors – both short term and long term.
“Any local authority plan for a child should be agreed in review meetings and thoroughly discussed with the foster carers with their views taken into account.
“It would be extremely unusual for a foster carer’s political views to play any part in this decision making unless there was direct evidence that these views were detrimental to the care of the child.”