1. ITV Report

Sammy Woodhouse: Rapist child access petition hits 200,000 mark

Sammy Woodhouse, a survivor of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, set up the petition Credit: ITV News

More than 200,000 people have signed a petition calling for fathers to be denied access to children conceived by rape.

Sammy Woodhouse, a survivor of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, set up the petition after the father of her child, who raped her as a teenager, was reportedly contacted by Rotherham Council to play a role in her child’s life.

Ms Woodhouse tweeted: "Thanks so much to everyone for the support."

In the petition started on Wednesday, Ms Woodhouse says: "After rebuilding my life, I was made to relive the trauma again last year when the courts said my abuser Hussain could seek visits with my son."

"That's why I'm calling for a change in the law, a simple amendment to the Children's Act 1989 that would ban any male with a child conceived by rape from applying for access/rights."

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Her petition has been backed several politicians including Rotherham MP Sarah Champion and Rother Valley MP Kevin Barron.

A Rotherham Council spokesman said that it could not disclose information relating to proceedings hearing in the Family Court, adding: “Like all councils we must comply with legal requirements, including Practice Directions, and that would include giving notice of proceedings to parents with or without formal parental responsibility.

"Often and understandably, cases before the Family Court are emotive and arouse strong feelings amongst those affected.

“We do understand that the legal requirements can cause upset to those involved and so we welcome a debate around this issue, which applies across England and Wales.”

A Ministry of Justice statement said: “This is obviously a very distressing incident and the relevant departments and local authority will work urgently to understand and address the failings in this case.

”Local authorities can apply to courts to request permission not to notify parents without parental responsibility about care proceedings, and courts should consider the potential harm to the child and mother when making this decision.“

An NSPCC spokeswoman added: "We need to understand if this is a one-off failure or a system-wide problem that needs to be addressed, so no other survivor and their child have to go through the same trauma."