Ministry disregarded legal advice to return seized children: document
Surrey parents insist they never harmed baby daughter
A lawyer representing the B.C. government in a child seizure case in September 2007 had advised the return of two of three children to the Surrey parents, CBC News has learned.
The children — two boys, now aged four and three, and a 19-month-old baby girl — were taken by the Ministry of Children and Family Development because Paul and Zabeth Bayne were suspected of shaking the girl and causing a head injury.
The Baynes said their daughter's head was accidentally injured by their second son tripping and landing over her body. The couple have been fighting to get their children back ever since.
The lawyer representing the children's ministry had suggested the return of the two older boys to the parents because there was no evidence of harm done on the boys, according to documents obtained by CBC News on Friday.
Government lawyer Finn Jensen believed the case for holding the two boys would not hold up in court, and John Fitzsimmons, a community services manager, was aware of the lawyer's position, according to a ministry correspondence dated July 14, 2008.
"[A] medical report of November 2007, completed shortly after the two older children came into care, indicates that there was no evidence of harm of injury to the children," the correspondence said.
"No new evidence has come to light, which would indicate a risk to these children," it said.
Jensen's opinion on the case was that "the director should consider a return of the two children to the parents."
The two boys and the baby girl have been placed in foster care.
"The boys have been in four foster homes now; that is not a secure, loving environment," Zabeth Bayne told CBC News Friday.
Kelly Gleeson, communications director of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, said Friday the matter is before the courts and "we will not be commenting."
Supporters of the Baynes held a weekly protest Thursday morning at B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell's constituency office in Vancouver, demanding the return of the three children to their parents.
Campbell said Friday he is not aware of the Baynes' fight to get back their children.
"I understand these people, like most people, would like to have their children back," Campbell said when asked by CBC News at a public event.
"My constituency assistants are following it up with the Ministry of Children and Family Development. I don't have the details of the case. I'm glad to follow it up," he said.
CBC News reported on Thursday the Baynes obtained internal documents from the children's ministry that suggest their daughter likely suffers glutaric aciduria, which is often mistaken for child abuse.
Glutaric aciduria is a rare genetic disorder with varied symptoms, sometimes including bleeding and swelling of the brain.
The couple, who now work as night janitors, have begun a legal challenge against the ministry's decision. But they said they likely won't get their day in court until next year because of delays and backlogs in the court system.
With files from Kathy Tomlinson