Hackney victim of baby scam wins legal battle to keep the child

A woman tricked by Nigerian conmen into believing she had given birth in a fertility treatment scam has won a legal battle against Hackney Council in her attempt to adopt the baby.

The woman and her partner from Hackney were so desperate to have a baby she travelled to Nigeria in 2010 to undergo fertility treatment after failing to conceive in the UK using IVF.

When she returned to Britain in 2011 her GP discovered the couple were not the child’s biological parents and alerted Hackney Council Social Services, who took the girl into care.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, insisted she had been duped by “unscrupulous” conmen into believing that the child was hers – despite their being no pregnancy or birth.

She said she had been drugged while undergoing a process which she thought was a genuine birth and believed the child was hers.

The couple have launched a legal bid to regain custody of the one-year girl and a judge ruled at the Appeal Court last week that the woman had been duped in a “baby exchange” scam in the African country.

In December last year, as part ongoing proceedings a High Court, a judge ruled she had been the innocent victim of Nigerian fraudsters.

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But last week the council’s lawyers challenged the finding, arguing that no judge could reasonably believe the woman was unaware that she had not been pregnant, gone into labour and given birth to the child.

However Lord Justice McFarlane rejected the council’s appeal upholding Mr Justice Coleridge’s decision, which he said was one he was “entitled” to reach on the evidence.

He said the judge had been “fully alive” to the woman’s extraordinary claims.

The case has now been referred to the family Division of the High Court where a decision will be taken on whether the couple can bring up the child.