The parents who claim the adoption of their two children was an appalling miscarriage of justice. Mike Dilger investigates the implications of Brexit for East Midlands wildlife.
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Hello and welcome to Wollaton Park in Nottingham.
Tonight, the shadowy world of the family courts and the parents
who are speaking out.
This couple say the adoption of their two children was
an appalling miscarriage of justice.
The best way I can try and explain it is using the phrase of
a living bereavement.
There is no grave to mourn at because they are alive,
they are out there somewhere.
Also tonight, what will Brexit mean for our wildlife?
Mike Dilger has been investigating.
Now that we are responsible for our own environmental policy,
if we don't get it right, it could be bad news for nature.
And remembering the Guinea Pig Club.
I hit the ground rather violently and this was an inferno.
The stories that matter closer to home.
I'm Lukwesa Burak and this is Inside Out for the East Midlands.
First tonight, the extraordinary story of a Derbyshire couple
who fought eight long years to have their adopted
children returned to them.
As journalists, we struggle to report on stories like this
because family court hearings are held in private and,
to protect children, much of what takes place
can't be published.
But this particular case could have much wider implications.
The couple have given their first UK television
interview to Sarah Sturdey.
On a Sunday afternoon in September 2008, Sue and Peter,
not their real names, were at home in Derbyshire.
Life for their family was about to change forever.
We are not naming the couple to protect the children.
My youngest was nine months old and I was sitting,
giving my youngest a very gentle baby massage when I noticed this
funny swelling on his head.
He wasn't distressed, he allowed me to touch it.
Sue and Peter took their son to Nottingham's A
Sue says after a scan they were told there was a skull fracture and signs
of previous bleeding on the brain.
We were in absolute shock.
They ask me, do you know what happened?
They asked me a couple of times and each time I said no.
None of this...it seemed so surreal.
You are in a total daze.
We got the distinct impression that there was quite a bit
of confusion as to what was going on, whether there was
or wasn't any fractures.
A month later at a children's centre, the couple had
to say goodbye to their two young sons, aged 10 months and three.
They were being taken into care by Derbyshire County Council
while their future was decided by the family courts.
The day we originally lost the boys on 31st October 2008
was the worst day of my life.
That's when my life ended.
To hear your child screaming, daddy, please save me,
and knowing there is nothing at all you can do,
it just kills you.
You just stop living because you are ripped apart.
How do you say goodbye to your kids and try to explain to them?
That day is burned into our memories.
That haunts us today because the look on their faces
when they were taken away, that is the hardest thing ever.
Civil family court hearings are held behind closed doors.
It's rare for cases to be heard in public.
In December 2008, the couple were told there was no
criminal case to answer.
A year later, a family court hearing was held to consider the facts.
We can say the boys were judged to be at risk.
They were never returned to their parents.
Sue refused to give up.
She researched her legal rights and asked for
hospital medical records.
These documents were sent to her.
These are hospital clinical reports to diagnose the swollen skull.
I was in shock.
I couldn't believe what I was actually reading.
The document states very clearly that there is no skull fracture
and in the skeletal survey, it says it's more likely
a fissure than a fracture.
And this hadn't been disclosed to us.
A fissure being a natural variant, more like a deep groove,
than a skull fracture.
This was rather distressing to read.
The hospital confirmed to us the medical records
were passed to the Council.
So why hadn't Sue been told about potentially
crucial medical evidence?
She dispensed with her lawyer and tried to navigate the legal
system herself but the adoption eventually went ahead.
200 miles away in Salisbury, Sue has found a new solicitor
to take on her case.
He's had success with a high-profile miscarriage of justice.
Bill Bache represented Angela Cannings, whose wrongful
conviction for murdering two of her babies was
The cause of the deaths could have been genetic.
He also believes this case raises serious questions.
The parents may well have suffered the most appalling injustice.
If the anomalies that were identified were in fact
naturally occurring, then they have had their children
taken away from them for absolutely no good reason whatsoever.
John Hemming is a former Birmingham MP who campaigns
about controversial adoptions.
In 2013, using parliamentary protection, he questioned why
the parents weren't told about the naturally
There was a court order on October the 30th 2008 which said
all evidence should be provided to the parents.
This did not happen.
Derbyshire County Council declined to comment but did obtain approval
from the judge for court medical reports and the court judgements
to be released to us but we're not allowed to tell you the contents.
And there's another extraordinary twist.
Two years ago, Sue was diagnosed with a genetic inheritable condition
affecting her body's joints.
It's called Ehlers-Danlos Sundrome.
It explains a lifetime of health problems.
I've got various bolts and nuts and screws holding me together,
I've got a cage that's surrounding my spine
and it holds me up.
Having received the Ehlers-Danlos diagnosis, this can easily now
explain my son's condition when presented to the hospital.
If a parent suffers it, then it may well be that children
will also inherit it and I believe there are a lot of cases where this
connection might be very important indeed to the resolution of what has
actually happened to these children.
The charity Ehlers-Danlos Support UK told us it has received calls
from a dozen families diagnosed with EDS facing child
The charity says there's a lack of understanding
about the condition.
Armed with Sue's new medical diagnosis, Bill Bache says
in an unprecedented move he is now seeking a new review of the court
hearing which considered the facts of the case seven years ago.
Every year, I put a little message in a bottle for each boy,
for each year of their birth, that when they get to the age of 21,
they can see our dreams and our wishes for them.
The separation is hard and the best way I can actually try and explain
it is using the phrase of a living bereavement.
There is no grave to mourn it because they are alive,
they are out there somewhere.
One of the hardest things is being around children
because it's a constant reminder of what you're missing,
what they could be doing, what do they look like now,
could they be enjoying things.
Since the original case, recent family court guidelines
encourage the publication of some judgements so the courts
are more accountable.
In the short-term, I can't see anything
happening about the adoption but in the shorter term I believe
that it may well be possible to revisit the findings in a way
that I hope would reflect well on them.
This has been an extremely hard, long eight years.
It has had an impact on our health.
I will never ever, ever, ever give up on my children.
We don't know what the outcome is going to be but I have to try.
And of course we will be keeping an eye on how the case goes.
Well, as we prepare to leave the EU, many people will be asking questions
such as, is my job safe, will the cost of food be going up,
and what on earth is going to happen to all our Polish plumbers.
Wildlife broadcaster Mike Dilger has questions of his own.
He's been exploring how the UK's departure from the European Union
could have big implications for the environment
and protected wildlife.
We've all heard the EU myths.
Bananas shouldn't be bendy, children banned from blowing up
balloons and let's not even talk about what they want to do
with our vacuum cleaners.
There have been plenty of EU rules and regulations that have
ruffled our feathers over the years and one of them includes
a furry, flying mammal.
From the headlines, British bats may appear to be
the bane of every builder, holding up planning and causing
costly delays, but there's a very good reason why these little
creatures receive protection under the EU.
For decades, their numbers plummeted right across Europe and something
had to be done to reverse this depressing decline.
I'm joining Derbyshire Wildlife Trust as they carry out
an important survey.
Yes, we have.
It's a bat.
And it doesn't take us long to find what we're looking for - bats.
A soprano pipistrelle - one of the smallest species in Europe.
We found a bat incredibly quickly and perhaps 10 years ago
we might have struggled because they were struggling
in the latter half of the 20th century, weren't they?
There's a variety of reasons why bat numbers were decreasing,
from pesticide use, agricultural practices, changing
landscapes and the loss of the roosts themselves.
They were getting it from all sides.
How has EU legislation helped bat populations in Britain?
In the UK we have the Wildlife and Countryside Act and that
just protects the bats.
The EU legislation itself helps protect the bats,
the roost and their foraging and commuting grounds.
So there's no point just protecting the bat if where it lives
and where it feeds is not protected at all.
So uncertain times ahead for bats?
So evidence suggests legislation really has helped.
Of the 16 bat species surveyed by the European Environment Agency
across nine countries, results show that bat
numbers have recovered.
In fact, up by a healthy 40% since the 1990s.
And it's not only flying mammals which get special treatment.
Most of the UK's wildlife and environmental legislation
is based around EU directives.
And post-Brexit, there's uncertainty as to how these will be replaced.
It's got Rutland farmer and wildlife enthusiasts
Andrew Brown very worried.
Andrew, we're standing in the middle of one of your wader scrapes
which is full of water and wading in the winter and breeding
birds in the summer.
We've spotted some wildlife already.
That just goes to show what great little islands
of wildlife these are.
We've got a little frog, a common frog.
These little frog-friendly habitats are all because of money
from Europe, from EU subsidies?
I've taken 23 hectares out of production and I've put
in a woodland, three hectares, and I have put in these scrapes.
Are you worried about the future, about Brexit
and where things are going?
I think it could be a big disaster for wildlife.
I have been in this scheme for six years and it
comes to an end in 2020.
I'm concerned that if I can't get into the next scheme,
whatever that may be, because we don't know yet,
I may have to undo all this good work that has been done
because I can't afford to do it without being paid.
It's going to be a big problem for the countryside.
Currently farmers receive around ?3 billion a year from Brussels.
The lion's share goes towards food production, with ?600 million
on environmental stewardship.
But could Brexit allow us to reset all the rules?
The National Trust manages around 1,000 square miles of land.
That's roughly the size of Derbyshire.
And the Trust says that Brexit offers new opportunities
for farming and for wildlife.
I've come to Cork Abbey to meet the Rural Enterprise
Director to find out more.
We have to hope that we will get at least as much
for the environment.
What we would like to see is it growing.
We think that is where public money ought to be focusing.
All the public benefits come from a vibrant countryside.
We want water protected, we want our habitats in good shape
and we want our wildlife to thrive.
We really are at a crossroads though.
It could go either way.
It's a transition period.
Everything to play for over the next six months, 18 months.
Quite a difficult road, quite a lot of debates to be
had over that period.
It's up to us who really care about the countryside
to make our voice heard and stand up for things we believe in.
So what happens now?
And how do we untangle 40 years of environmental legislation?
Pauline Latham, MP for Mid Derbyshire, backed Brexit.
I don't think people need to be too worried because I do believe
what we want to do as a government is strengthen the legislation.
We want to make it better.
Many of the laws Europe brought to us are enshrined in British law
so I don't think that is going to be too big a problem.
But it doesn't mean to say people shouldn't think about it.
They should be lobbying their MPs, the NFU, Wildlife Trust,
all those organisations.
They need to be listening to their members and telling
government what they want to make life better for them,
for their members and for the wildlife in this country.
You're saying it's a tremendous opportunity.
It can be.
And I think we could have this opportunity to reassess what we need
to do, how we can make life better for everybody and the wildlife.
I'm ending the day just outside Chesterfield.
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust wanted to meet me here for a good reason.
This is the River Rother in North Derbyshire and back
in the 1970s it was considered one of the most contaminated rivers
in the entire country.
Coking plants, sewage works and manufacturing chemicals
all added to this toxic soup, making it unable to sustain life.
But how things have changed.
Species like minnow, barbel and even crayfish can
all be found here now.
Tim, you think that EU legislation is responsible
for the health of the River Rother as it stands today?
This used to be one of the filthiest rivers in Europe, filled with sewage
and chemicals from industry.
There's no question that EU legislation has massively helped
to improve the quality of the river, with all the amazing wildlife
we have got back now.
Moving forward outside of the EU, are you optimistic about the future?
Will they keep the laws?
The Wildlife Trust, we are concerned, and the key thing
is, there's got to be absolutely no backsliding.
We don't want to see a decrease in water quality,
we want more wildlife back so people can enjoy the amazing
wildlife of our rivers.
It's absolutely key.
David Cameron claimed that 40% of our laws were shaped by Brussels
while Nigel Farage maintained it was more like 75%.
Whatever the figure, it's clear that things are going to change
and now that we are responsible for our own environmental policy,
if we don't get it right, it could be bad news for nature.
Well, our final story tonight comes from Leicestershire,
where a veteran airman from Burton Lazars is on one final
mission, to build a memorial for airmen severely burned
during World War II.
Victoria Hicks has been following Sandy Saunders' quest
to ensure the legacy of the Guinea Pig Club
is never forgotten.
The 27th of September 1945 was a very important day in my life.
By the end of the day, my life would have been totally changed.
I hit the ground rather violently and this was an inferno.
I undid the straps, the buckle, climbed over the starboard side
of the aircraft and fell to the ground and then I was
unconscious and woke up in hospital.
It was just a horrible feeling.
A feeling of terror.
You feel as if you're just going to die now.
Where are you?
I can't see.
I'm up there.
You can tell from my hat.
It looks like Rommel.
Sandy Saunders was 22, a trainee glider pilot
on a navigation exercise in Warwickshire when the plane's
engine stalled and it crashed.
I was covered with aviation fuel and I was on fire.
I got horrid burns up my entire legs and my hands and my face.
He suffered 40% burns and in 1947 was sent to a pioneering plastic
surgeon based in West Sussex.
I was referred to Archibald McIndoe in East Grinstead and he did
a further 14 operations, which gave me the face I've got now.
McIndoe had been appointed by the RAF to treat
badly burned aircrew.
The Battle of Britain led to rising numbers of young pilots
with life changing injuries.
Most were fighter pilots.
By the end of the War, the majority were from bomber command.
McIndoe's patients became known as his "guinea pigs"
because of the experimental plastic surgery they had.
He encouraged them to form the so-called Guinea Pig
Club, a social club.
By the end of the war it had 649 members.
75 years after the Guinea Pig Club was formed, Sandy feels it's time
the severely burned airmen should be given a permanent tribute.
With his wife Maggie, they've come to see it taking shape
at Graeme Mitcheson's workshop in Leicestershire.
You've got the drama.
Yes, we've got quite sharp flames here and thinning out to a more
puffy smoke at the top.
It just catching that drama of how a lot of the injuries were obtained.
I commissioned this memorial because if I hadn't done
so, nobody else would.
'At East Grinstead, newly knighted Sir Archibald McIndoe,
meets members 'of the Guinea Pig Club.
'His magic hands have given new limbs and new faces 'to burned
and mutilated airmen.
During World War II,
McIndoe was based at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East
It's still a leading centre for the treatment of burns injuries.
How lovely to see you at the Queen Vic.
Good to see you again.
We have a box here of McIndoe's original instruments that have just
come from the museum and I thought we'd have a look at what is similar
and what is different to what I use on a daily basis.
There's a lot of these I recognise.
Here's a standard pair of McIndoe's forceps.
We certainly still use those today.
It wasn't just the design of McIndoe's instruments that
were important but also his belief in treating the physical and mental
scars of his patients.
He was very much groundbreaking, the idea that the whole patient
is really important.
That's now very much the mantra of both burn care
and the wider NHS now, that the patient should
be in the centre.
He was obviously the world's best plastic surgeon.
You were one of his patients and you were going to recover.
I think this was the fundamental thing - faith in McIndoe.
Like Sandy, Roger Chaplin has also been treated at East Grinstead.
After crashing his private plane, he's had 70 operations so far.
The Guinea Pig story gives him hope.
It is quite an inspiration because when you've had a serious
burn, you're dealing with the aftermath of the burn,
it's very easy to get into a very low situation psychologically.
To see that they can come through that particular low and come
out on the other side and go on to manage to have a decent
and fulfilling life afterwards, it's very important and very uplifting.
Sandy's mission to have a memorial is nearing completion.
He's managed to raise ?20,000 to pay for it.
The edge traces the profile of McIndoe's face.
And here's McIndoe.
His hands touched me and now I'm touching him.
Doesn't half bring back memories.
The day of the unveiling at the National Memorial
Arboretum in Staffordshire.
The Duke of Edinburgh became president of the Guinea Pig Club
on McIndoe's death.
He's here to pay his respects alongside some of the last surviving
Guinea Pig Club members.
It's very appropriate, I think.
The bottom bit, an aircraft going down in flames.
I'm only a lightly toasted one.
It's overwhelming really.
I'm very grateful to be able to live to see it unveiled.
I'm glad I took the initiative.
McIndoe inspired Sandy to train as a GP after the War.
He practised in Nottingham for 40 years.
It looks the same...
Exactly the same as the one I last flew.
Now, at 94, he has terminal cancer, but he has one more chance
to fly in a Tiger Moth.
It just brings it all back.
I wish I were young again.
Sandy's trecked the Himalayas, sailed the Atlantic
and skied until he was 82.
He's led the full and active life McIndoe wanted his
Guinea Pigs to lead.
And now his final mission is complete.
There's a place where the injured airmen will always be remembered.
And we know that Sandy is watching this so from all
of us at Inside Out, we would like to wish him well
and congratulate him on a mission accomplished.
That's it from us for this week.
Here's a sneak preview of what's coming up on next week's programme.
Good boy, Yoyo.
We're out with the sniffer dogs tracking down the secret
stashes of illegal tobacco on our high street.
Wherever I go in the UK, there are always links back to Derby.
Hello, I'm Riz Lateef with your 90 second update.
The Government says national security means it won't confirm
The parents who claim the adoption of their two children was an appalling miscarriage of justice. And Mike Dilger investigates the implications of Brexit for East Midlands wildlife.