Following a hard-fought but many would say misguided campaign, a Portuguese mother ‘on the run from British justice’ has learnt that the six-month old baby boy removed from her care nine days after his birth is being “referred for adoption” in the UK.
Público reveals that the decision was taken by Portsmouth Family Court yesterday (Friday).
It had actually been made a month previously, but the case was given extra time, possibly to see if the child’s parents would finally comply with British justice and return to the UK to fight for him through the official channels.
Público adds that attempts were made to contact both the baby’s parents and grandparents, who live in Figueira da Foz, but for reasons unclear they never responded.
Iolande Menino and her partner Leon Edwards have effectively been on the run in Portugal from a British court order remanding them to jail for flouting instructions not to talk about their case to the media, or post information online.
Cardiology technician Iolanda is quoted as having told Público that the couple feels they have received “little support in Portugal – namely by the government”.
She and her partner Leon opened a Facebook page early on in their campaign, entitled “Our Baby was Snatched by the Social Services”. On it they have uploaded interviews, statements – even taped phone conversations with a social worker and Portuguese Consul General Joana Gaspar.
In the latter cases, both the social worker and Ms Gaspar implored the parents to do what the authorities wanted.
As one campaigner for the rights of children with Autism explained to us in April, the issue centres on the ‘day job’ of Leon Edwards – a “so-called Bishop of the Genesis II Church” who has been known to promote a product called Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) which a number of sources suggest is toxic (click here).
Portuguese media also covered this aspect, and the story subsequently dropped from national pages.
The parents went on to get exposure on a number of national daytime chat shows – almost never mentioning the connection with MMS – but the impetus of their campaign has never really taken off.
A “rally for Santiago” (click here), vigils in front of the British embassy, attempts to enlist the support of President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa as well as approaches to prime minister António Costa have all returned to the baseline premise that as UK residents with a child born in the UK, the couple needed to address their issues in the UK.
What happens next remains to be seen. Little Santiago has been in foster care these past months and may now have an adoptive family waiting for him.
Iolande Menino and Leon Edwards’ Facebook page continues to proclaim that they are fighting to get their son back, and asks for support from readers.
Earlier today (Saturday) the couple posted snippets from court papers, pointing out that they have different process numbers “to steal our baby easier”.
“This is child trafficking”, says the post, adding: “Our Baby was Snatched by the Social Services”.
Photo: Iolande Menino and Leon Edwards enjoying happier times before the birth of baby Santiago