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Anxious wait for verdict on baby; Mum-to-be not allowed to attend key panel.

Byline: By Ben Guy

A MOTHER-to-be was not allowed to attend the meeting that will decide the fate of her unborn child because of council policy.

Earlier this month Fran Lyon was told her child would be taken from her at birth because social services say she is likely to make up an illness or harm the child in order to get attention.

A Northumberland County Council safeguarding children panel yesterday heard Miss Lyon's appeal into that decision, but because the council only accepts written evidence at such hearings, she was not allowed to attend. The 22-year-old, of St Hilda's Road, Hexham, now faces an anxious wait for a letter from the panel telling her if the appeal has been upheld.

She said: "I found out late last week that I am not allowed to go to the meeting.

"It is an extra level of anxiety and, given how difficult things are already, it wasn't needed and could have been avoided.

"It seems a bit farcical really.

"I have written to them saying I am not 100% sure that this is the best way to do things, but I don't want to cause trouble and rock boats, so I am just leaving it be and, if it is the way their policy says they do it, then we just have to wait." Miss Lyon has made a written submission, which will be put before the panel as her case for keeping the child, which she has called Molly.

She said: "I won't find out the result until they send it to me in writing, so I don't know how long that will take.

"I presume they make a decision today and then write the letter.

"They could have made it a bit clearer because until late last week I thought I would be going to the hearing."

Miss Lyon reiterated that she would take the matter to a judicial review if her appeal was not upheld.

A county council spokesman said: "Although complaints of this nature are rare, in accordance with national and local guidance, in such circumstances parents are formally invited to make written representation to the complaints panel.

"On top of this, parents are also offered the opportunity to meet personally with representatives of the Northumberland Safeguarding Board practice sub-committee, which forms the complaints panel.

"Unfortunately it may be the case that parents decline to take up this opportunity.

"The complaints panel considers written submissions and decides on the basis of those submissions whether to call for a child protection conference to be reconvened."

Miss Lyon suffered a traumatic childhood in which she began self-harming and was admitted to psychiatric care. She suffered a personality disorder, for which she was successfully treated, but social services officials still say she is likely to suffer from Munchausen's Syndrome by proxy, the condition which causes mothers to invent illnesses or harm their children for attention.

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DESPERATE: Fran Lyon, of Hexham, may have her baby taken away from her.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 13, 2007
Words:516
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