The letter from Hampshire Social Services was as brief as it was bewildering. ‘Please ring me on the above number,’ it said. ‘I have some information that might be of interest to you.’ This was quite an understatement, as Michael Shergold soon found.Needless to say, the SS were keen that he didn't get any ideas as a result of this letter:
A quietly spoken father of three, he finds that his life rarely gets more exciting than his weekly game of golf. But when he called the social workers as requested, he was confronted with a series of astonishing facts.
They said he was the father of another child - a five-year-old son from a previous, short-lived relationship. A former girlfriend, unable to cope with the demands of motherhood, had handed the boy over to foster parents.
A meeting with this new-found son was out of the question, he was told, let alone any sort of relationship. He was also informed that the boy was to be formally adopted and that the council was ringing merely to let him know.But the SS usually work in secret. Why the contact?
Well, that's where it gets even more disturbing than usual:
But there were extraordinary surprises in store for Michael and his wife, Alex. Hampshire Social Services wanted more than just his acquiescence.Yes, they wanted him to be a doner. To his own child, who they had just coldly advised he had no rights to, and would never see. And just in case Michael thought it might be a good idea to bring this monstrous demand into the light of day, so Hampshire taxpayers could see what sort of people they were employing:
Andrew, it emerged, had been diagnosed with a severe problem in one of his organs. For legal reasons, it is not possible to be more specific.
But the boy stands little chance of living beyond his teenage years without a transplant - from a blood relative if at all possible. The most suitable blood relative, it was explained by social workers, was Michael himself.
The Mail on Sunday asked Hampshire County Council two months ago about its handling of the case.The 'Mail' fought the injunction and won.
It responded by obtaining a legal injunction to prevent us printing Michael’s story, claiming that to do so might damage his son’s chances of settling down.
Sadly the names of the SS members involved aren't permitted to be printed. They should be. But the last word goes to Michael, because it sums up what a mess we are in in this country:
‘How can social workers sleep at night, knowing they have separated a boy from his real father, a good father who has already successfully raised three children? They won’t even pass on birthday cards.
‘They have stormed in and left us to pick up the pieces. I cannot believe that in this country someone can stop you seeing your own child when you have done nothing wrong.