A pregnant woman has had her baby forcibly removed by caesarean section because she had suffered a mental breakdown.
In what has been described as an unprecedented case, Essex social services obtained a High Court order that allowed her to be forcibly sedated and her child removed from her womb.
According to The Sunday Telegraph, the council said it was acting in the best interests of the mother.
Social services are refusing to give the baby girl, who is now 15 months old, back to her mother, despite the woman claiming she has recovered.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is an Italian national who came to Britain in July last year to attend a training course with an airline at Stansted Airport in Essex.
She is reported to have suffered a panic attack, which her relations believe was due to her failure to take regular medication for an existing bipolar condition.
She called the police, who took her to a psychiatric facility where she was restrained and sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
Essex social services then obtained a High Court order in August 2012 for the birth “to be enforced by way of caesarean section”, according to legal documents seen by The Sunday Telegraph.
The baby was born five weeks later after which the mother returned to Italy.
Brendan Fleming, the woman’s lawyer, told the newspaper: “I have never heard of anything like this in all my 40 years in the job. I can understand if someone is very ill that they may not be able to consent to a medical procedure, but a forced caesarean is unprecedented.
“If there were concerns about the care of this child by an Italian mother, then the better plan would have been for the authorities here to have notified social services in Italy and for the child to have been taken back there.”
An Italian High Court judge has questioned whether British care proceedings should have been applied to the child of an Italian citizen.
The matter will be raised in Parliament this week by John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat MP who chairs the Public Family Law Reform Coordinating Campaign.