Ukip foster parents told: ‘You can’t have your children back’

By Charles Maggs

The children removed from the care of foster parents because of their support for Ukip have not been returned, Rotherham council has confirmed.

The revelation comes despite the admission from the council that foster parents should not be barred from looking after adopted children because they are members of Ukip.

"We have been able to establish the facts in this case as far as is possible over the weekend, and I can confirm that the children are safe and in very good care," Rotherham metropolitan borough council leader Roger Stone said.

"However, this remains a very 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."

His comments come after an initial investigation into the circumstances around the decision to remove the children from the care of the Ukip-supporting couple.

The couple, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said they wanted the issue brought to a close as soon as possible and to be able to begin fostering again.

"We feel that we have personally been slandered and we would like a public apology from Rotherham," the wife told the Telegraph newspaper.

"We would also like something in the form of a letter stating that they have got it wrong in this case and that it will not be on our records that we have had children removed from our care. We just want a clean slate."

The couple had two siblings of eastern European dissent removed from their care because the council said the party's anti-immigration policies could "not be ignored".

Joyce Thacker, director of children's services at the council, said she had acted in the interests of the children.

"I have legal advice I have to follow for the placement of children and I was criticised before for not making sure their cultural and ethnic needs were met," she said.

"If the party mantra is, for example, ending the active promotion of multiculturalism I have to think about that… I have to think of their longer-term needs."

But the decision has been condemned by Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who said he was "very upset and very angry" about the decision.

The council was also criticised by Labour leader Ed Miliband and education secretary Michael Gove.

"Being a member of Ukip should not be a bar to adopting or fostering children," Miliband said.

"We need to find out the facts and the council urgently needs to get to the bottom of exactly what happened."

Gove labelled the decision "indefensible" and has set up an investigation by his department, which Stone said the council welcomes.

"It is entirely wrong for this couple to have been treated in this way. That's why I believe we need a full explanation from the local authority as to why this decision was allowed to be taken," he said.

"If we say you cannot foster children because you're a member of a mainstream political party or because you have views on multiculturalism then that's utterly wrong."

The couple have been involved in fostering for nearly seven years. The wife has recently left her job as a nurse to concentrate on fostering full-time.

A by-election is taking place in Rotherham on Thursday following the resignation of Labour's Denis MacShane, who was condemned by the parliamentary expenses watchdog over his expenses claims. It's unclear how the fostering controversy might affect the poll.

Ukip will be hoping for a good showing in the safe Labour seat after finishing second in a by-election in neighbouring Barnsley last year.